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Legal Challenges Behind Prosecuting Drivers Under the Influence of Weed in Rhode Island

Posted by Matthew Marin | Sep 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

This past December, Rhode Island legalized weed in Rhode Island. While research has shown that marijuana will increase health benefits, decrease the nation's crime rate, and improve the economy there are still many legal challenges and gaps in Rhode Island. 

What should you know if you live in Rhode Island? 

Driving under the influence of marijuana is still a crime. Similar to driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana carries stiff penalties. What are the penalties? The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana include:

1.) A fine of $500

2.) 20-60 hours of community service

3.) Up to one year in jail at the ACI

4.) A license suspension of 3-18 months

5.) Substance abuse counseling. 

The gaps? Overall, local police departments do not have the same tools and scientifically valid techniques to help them determine whether drivers are actually impaired by marijuana.  Additionally, not all police officers are 100% trained as DRE's (Drug Recognition Experts) so they cannot even attempt to screen for DUI of marijuana.

1.) Tools: The level of impairment by marijuana is yet to be tested in Rhode Island. While police can use state law and a breathalyzer to showcase whether an individual is under the influence of alcohol (.08%) there is no similar standardized tool available for marijuana.  

The only tool available to the police currently is a chemical test or a blood test, which can only be done at the hospital. Without this test, a police offer would have to offer their best judgment that the person is high based on impairment signs after being pulled over and would need to have been extensively trained on those techniques.

2.) While many in the police force depend on DRE's to help them prove this through observations, great DUI defense attorneys can effectively argue that the techniques are not scientifically valuable or reliable. 

At the Marin and Barrett Law Firm, our DUI defense lawyers have a tremendous amount of experience defending DUI charges, including driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs.  If you are facing a DUI marijuana charge, call us today to hear how we can help you fight these charges.  We are available 24/7 at 401-228-8271.

About the Author

Matthew Marin

Attorney Matthew T. Marin is a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer with an outstanding track record in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. With expertise in DUI/DWI, drug offenses, domestic violence, and white-collar crimes, he is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. A "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and a member of the National College for DUI Defense and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Attorney Marin is committed to staying current with the latest legal developments and giving back to his community through pro bono work.


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Attorney Marin Named A SuperLawyer for Ten Consecutive Years 2014-2023

Attorney Matthew Marin has been named a Rhode Island SuperLawyer for 10 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2023. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island are selected by the Research Team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers selects lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practice area.

Rhode Island Members of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorneys Matthew Marin and Kensley Barrett are both Rhode Island General Members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members represent some of the most experienced and cutting edge DUI defense attorney's throughout the Country. Nationwide, DUI laws are extremely complex and constantly changing and the College facilitates the exchange of innovative defenses throughout the Country.