In 2013 the commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a law legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. According to statute 105 CMR 725.000, it is legal to treat qualifying medical conditions, be found with up to ten prescribed ounces in your possession every two months, cultivate marijuana in your home in limited amounts for personal medical use, and purchase it in a state-run dispensary with a proper prescription. Another recent law states that if you are found with less than one ounce of recreational-use marijuana in your possession, you will only be charged with a civil offense. However, driving under the influence of marijuana is still a criminal offense.
Massachusetts law states that if you are found to be driving under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, depressants, stimulants, or narcotics, you will be found guilty of drugged driving. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 90 § 24(1)(a)(1) (West 2010). Even if you are using marijuana or other prescribed drugs for medical purposes, it is illegal to drive while under the influence.
If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol you must submit to chemical testing of your urine, breath, or blood. This implied consent does not apply if you are suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or another controlled substance.
Drugged Driving Penalties
Penalties for a first offense are 30 days of house arrest, fines between $500 and $5000, and one year of license suspension. Minimum penalties for a second offense are 30 days in jail, fines between $600 and $10,000, and license suspension for two years. Penalties increase for additional offenses up to the fifth when you will be sentenced to 30 months or more of jail time, a fine up to $50,000, and the loss of your driver’s license for the rest of your life. You may receive alternative dispositions if you undergo counseling or treatment for substance abuse, but you should seek counsel for details relevant to your situation. If you are facing drugged driving charges, it is essential to get in touch with a defense attorney who can explain your options and fight for your rights,
Drugged Driving Perceptions
According to a survey study recently published in Oxford University’s Health Education Research journal, individuals who are under the influence of marijuana may have misperceptions with regard to their driving abilities. When asked whether they thought being high impaired their ability to drive, those who were high when they took the survey believed they were able to drive safely under the influence of marijuana. Further, they believed they would not get caught. Participants who were not high when taking the survey believed the opposite. This study reinforces the dangers of drugged driving beyond legalities, as well as the personal responsibility every driver has when getting behind the wheel.