Some people may claim that smoking dope doesn’t affect their ability to drive, but science is proving that they’re wrong. A breakthrough study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates – apparently definitively and for the first time – that smoking pot definitely, negatively affects the ability to drive. The NIDA studied 18 marijuana users piloting a state-of-the-art driving simulator after consuming different combinations of alcohol, marijuana, and placebos. In Nevada, if you are arrested for a marijuana-related DUI charge or any marijuana-related crime, don’t wait – arrange at once to speak with an experienced Las Vegas DUI defense attorney.

According to NIDA researchers, at certain blood concentrations, marijuana’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), affects a driver’s ability the same way a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 (the legal limit) affects a driver. Researchers say the study is the first to examine precisely the differences between marijuana and alcohol while driving. Marilyn Huestis, speaking for the NIDA, told KABC News that “One of the things we know happens with cannabis is that it reduces your field of vision and you get tunnel vision, so you’re unable to react as quickly.” Researchers were not surprised to find that marijuana and alcohol have more of an impact on driving when used together. The combination of pot and alcohol increases the chance of an accident more than either intoxicant by itself.

It’s against the law to drive a motor vehicle in Nevada with more than 2 nanograms of marijuana or 5 nanograms of marijuana metabolite per milliliter in your blood. (A nanogram is a billionth of a gram, and a milliliter is 1/1000th of a liter.) That’s stricter than the legal standard for heroin or cocaine, and it means unimpaired drivers can be charged for DUI-marijuana simply for exceeding the legal nanogram level.

Nevada Assembly Bill 351 would have forced prosecutors to prove a driver was actually impaired by marijuana, rather than just showing that the nanogram standard was exceeded. Even though the bill was amended to provide for a study of marijuana and driving under the influence, the proposal nevertheless languished and died in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Some members of the Senate have argued that marijuana should be legally treated like other prescription drugs. To win other DUI convictions, prosecutors must prove that users of prescription painkillers were actually impaired. There’s no nanogram standard for driving under the influence of Percocet or Oxycontin, for instance.

Drug experts are warning that higher concentrations of THC in the marijuana available today – when compared to the pot available two or three decades ago – means that pot smokers are more likely to be impaired while driving than they were in the past. Nevada law enforcement officers are always looking for impaired drivers, so if you are charged with DUI in the Las Vegas area – whether that DUI is tied to pot, alcohol, or both – contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI defense attorney immediately.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Like every other state in the U.S., the state of Nevada takes driving under the influence (DUI) charges very seriously. Depending on the exact facts of a case, a person could face anywhere from a few nights in jail to several years in a Nevada prison for the crime of DUI. Circumstances which would lead to harsher penalties include causing injury or death to another person, excessive amounts of property damage, failure to stop at the scene and report the accident (hit and run), being involved in a DUI while unlicensed or on a suspended license, or being involved in a DUI as a minor.

If successfully convicted of driving under the influence in Nevada, a person faces the risk of jail time, heavy fines, community service, probation, the loss or restriction of driving privileges, court mandated DUI classes, court mandated substance abuse counseling, and/or certain other consequences as a court may find appropriate. To say the least, the consequences of being caught driving under the influence are much heavier than the cost of a cab ride or the call to a friend for a ride home– unfortunately, if accusations of DUI have already been made, there is nothing that a suspect can do but deal with the consequences that may follow.

The best thing that a person suspected of DUI in Nevada can do is hire a Nevada DUI defense attorney. An attorney with specific experience representing those who have been charged with DUI will be a valuable asset for a DUI suspect to have. The attorney will craft a defense on the suspect’s behalf that takes into consideration the totality of the circumstances surrounding a case. Plus, an attorney will have access to resources like expert witnesses who can be called on to offer insight into specific aspects of a case. Refusing to submit to a chemical test can aggravate consequences, so it is usually in a person’s best interests to submit to chemical testing – preferably a form of testing like blood or urine that creates a sample which can be retained and independently tested; there is no way to retain and independently test a breath sample.

One of the most confusing times following an arrest for DUI will be the time immediately following the arrest, before the person has had the chance to speak to an attorney or contact anyone outside of the police for help. When this time comes, it is important for DUI suspects to exercise their right to remain silent by making it affirmatively known that the right is being exercised. Actually, it would be best to exercise this right as soon as possible, so as to ensure that the right against self incrimination remains protected during any subsequent police questioning. While in police custody, a DUI suspect, or a person pulled over and detained for any reason, should answer no questions and make no comments other than to positively identify. If the police press the issue, a repetition of the statement exercising the right to remain silent can be repeated until they get the idea. The less that is said, the higher the chance that a defense attorney will be able to craft and present a competent and effective defense.

Speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer immediately. Any DUI charge is a threat to your future, your freedom, your driver’s license, and your financial resources. A good DUI defense attorney will assess your case, will help you to compile evidence and witnesses, and will work to have your charge reduced or dismissed entirely. Protect your rights and your future by contacting an experienced DUI defense lawyer right away.