Tests for Operating Under the Influence of Marijuana
June 9, 2022
Under Massachusetts laws, it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, intoxicating liquor, or narcotic drugs. On suspicion of drugged driving, a police officer may pull your car over and ask you to take field sobriety tests. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you're not under any legal obligation to take a field sobriety test for drugged driving.
Unfortunately, many Massachusetts drivers are not aware of their rights and obligations regarding field sobriety tests when stopped by a police officer. Due to this, many individuals suspected of drugged driving become convicted and suffer devastating consequences. A knowledgeable Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights with field sobriety tests.
McBride Law provides knowledgeable legal services and comprehensive representation to individuals charged with drugged driving. The attorneys at McBride Law can review and investigate all of the facts of your case and enlighten you about your rights with field sobriety testing. The firm is proud to serve clients across Quincy, Hingham, Norwell, Boston, Weymouth, and surrounding areas throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, individuals who are 21 years and older are allowed to purchase and use cannabis (medical marijuana) for recreational purposes. However, it is illegal to possess more than one (1) ounce of marijuana outside your home.
Massachusetts Drugged Driving Laws
According to Massachusetts OUI law – Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24 – motorists are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic drugs, marijuana, stimulants, or depressants. An individual may be facing OUI charges for driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
FSTs for Driving Drugged
If a law enforcement officer believes that a person is driving drugged, they may request the driver to submit to several field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are a group of three standardized tests – the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze, and the walk-and-turn tests – used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a person is driving impaired.
The One-Leg Stand Test
The law enforcement officer will ask the alleged drugged driver to stand on a single foot at the height of approximately six inches above the ground and count for 30 seconds.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
This test determines whether the eyes of an alleged drugged driver can follow a moving object irregularly or smoothly.
The Walk-and-Turn Test
The law enforcement officer will ask the alleged drugged driver to take nine steps along a straight line in a heel-to-toe manner, turn on a single foot, and return to their starting spot in a similar way.
Though field sobriety tests can help determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or not, the tests are not usually accurate, and not every person is a candidate for the test. In Massachusetts, field sobriety tests or "roadside assessments" are voluntary, and there are no penalties for refusal.
In most cases, it is in your best interest to refuse a field sobriety test politely and firmly. An experienced attorney can help you understand the consequences of a drugged driving conviction and strategize an effective defense for your unique situation.
Unfortunately, a drugged driving charge in Massachusetts may result in criminal and administrative penalties. If convicted, the potential penalties and consequences include:
Jail time (ranging from several months or years)
Driver's license suspension or revocation
A criminal record/history
Mandatory drug prevention program
Increased difficulty in securing housing and employment
Increased auto insurance rates
Increased difficulty in securing public benefits or government assistance
Loss of your rights to own or carry firearms
Ineligibility to obtain certain financial loans
Loss of university acceptance or scholarships
Deterioration of professional relationships
If you or someone you know has recently been arrested or indicted for drugged driving, you need to reach out to a skilled criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your legal counsel has the resources to outline a strong defense to protect your driving privileges and help you avoid the far-reaching ramifications of a criminal conviction.
Possible Legal Defenses
Here are some possible legal defenses against drugged driving charges in Massachusetts:
Improper or unlawful stop or arrest
The person wasn't driving
The field sobriety test was improperly administered
Driving wasn't impaired
Not under the influence of marijuana at all
The tests weren't done in accordance with procedural requirements
The arresting officer violated the defendant's civil rights
Improper testing or failure to follow proper test protocols
Improper interrogation or Miranda violations
However, the surrounding details of your case will determine the ideal defenses. A reliable DUI defense attorney can investigate all of the facts of your case thoroughly and determine the best defenses to fight your drugged driving allegations.
Seek Reliable Representation
Trying to defend your drugged driving accusations without reliable guidance or representation could easily increase your risk of suffering the maximum punishment. However, understanding your rights and obligations with field sobriety tests and the potential ramifications of a refusal can help you make informed decisions and ensure that you do not end up in the worst possible situation. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help protect your driving privileges and build your defense strategy.
McBride Law offers highly-personalized legal counsel and aggressive representation to clients in their OUI and drugged driving cases. As your legal counsel, they can investigate every last detail of your case thoroughly and strategize an effective defense to help fight your charges. Using their extensive knowledge, the legal team at McBride Law can help you navigate the Massachusetts criminal justice system.
g drugged driving charges can be scary. Never face them alone. Contact McBride Law today to schedule a simple case evaluation with trusted DUI defense lawyers. They can offer you the knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable advocacy you need to fight your drugged driving allegations. The firm is proud to serve clients across Quincy, Hingham, Norwell, Boston, Weymouth, and surrounding areas throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.