Driving while high is not a legal charge in Massachusetts. There is no breath-type test if you smoke marijuana and get behind the wheel, but you still face major trouble.
Police do not have to prove that you are too high to drive to arrest you. If they believe that you used marijuana before getting behind the wheel, you can expect handcuffs, time in a jail cell and a court appearance.
Police have public safety in mind
To be clear, police do not stop you because you are high. They stop you because they believe that you are a danger to yourself and other motorists. After pulling you over, they look for signs that you are under the influence of marijuana.
Your eyes may give you away. Signs include red eyes, involuntary jerking of the eyes, eye tremors and dilated pupils.
Your odor can give you away, too. Police know what marijuana smells like. Slurred speech is another telltale sign of impairment. Police also may check your blood pressure and pulse rate.
You should have potential consequences in mind
A first-time offender faces the same stiff penalties as a drunk driver:
- A prison term of up to two-and-a-half years
- A fine of $500 to $5,000
- Community service
- A driver education program (that you pay for)
- A $100 surcharge
- Other charges totaling up to $250
- Loss of license for one year
Penalties are worse if you cause an injury or if you have someone 14 or younger in your vehicle. Previous convictions can lead to longer jail terms, higher fines and other penalties.
Keep your future in mind
Fighting a marijuana-related driving arrest is difficult. It often is a matter of your word against police, who receive training to recognize drug use. Yet, they sometimes make mistakes.
Your future is at stake, and a conviction can haunt you for years, even decades. Your task is raising questions about the case against you. The answers can convince a judge or jury that you are innocent.