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Can I Be Charged With an OVI for Marijuana?

by | Dec 6, 2023 | OVI Defense

Now that Ohio has legalized marijuana, one question we are often asked is whether a person can still be charged with an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence). The answer is yes. In Ohio a person can be charged with ORC for using marijuana under ORC 4511.19.

Although marijuana is legal, the OVI laws in the Ohio Revised Code § 4511.19 have not changed and individuals can still be charged for an OVI for using marijuana before or while driving.

Ohio’s OVI law provides two separate ways for an individual to be charged. The first is whether an individual uses marijuana and it adversely affects and appreciably impairs the driver’s actions, reactions, or mental processes. Stated differently, this means if an individual consumes any quantity of marijuana and it impacts his or her ability to operate a vehicle then that person can be charged with OVI under § 4511.19(A)(1)(a).

Ohio also has a per se OVI offense based on the amount of marijuana metabolite in a person’s system—like the .08 standard for alcohol. Under Ohio Revised Code 4511.19(A)(1)(j)(viii)(II) if someone has greater than or equal to 35ng of marijuana metabolite in their urine or greater than or equal to 50ng in their blood then the law states that person is impaired, as a matter of law, and cannot operate a vehicle.

The Risk of Driving in Ohio for Marijuana Users

Ohio does not test for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in Marijuana that makes a person “high. ” Instead, Ohio tests for a marijuana metabolite that lingers on the body long after a person uses marijuana.

The danger for Ohio drivers that use marijuana is that they can still be over the legal limit even if they are no longer feeling the effects of the drug. Marijuana remains in person’s system for up to a month or more, especially for regular users.

For example, a person who consumed edibles a week prior to being pulled over and given a blood or urine test will likely still be over Ohio’s per se legal limit despite no longer being under the influence of THC.

As former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell stated when he was stopped for OVI: “I didn’t know that you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago. I am not high anymore. I am perfectly fine.” This quote illustrates the potential legal ramifications Ohio drivers must now recognize with legalized marijuana.

Our office has experience successfully defending individuals charged with a marijuana related OVI, including challenging blood and urine tests. If you or a loved one is charged with such an offense our team should be the first call for representation.