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Pot legal? You can still get a DUI

Impaired driving is against the law, even if you're in one of the states where voters legalized marijuana. And it will raise your insurance rates.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 7, 2012 6:05PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site logoVoters in Washington and Colorado on Tuesday legalized recreational use of marijuana, but that doesn't make drugged driving in those states legal.


Image: Man eating in car (© Image Source/Corbis/Corbis)Both states -- as well as the 17 where medicinal use is approved -- penalize stoned drivers the same way they do drunken drivers.


Washington's ballot measure establishes a concentration of five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, per milliliter of blood as proof of impaired driving. Backers of Initiative 502 say (.pdf file) a marijuana smoker who lets several hours pass before getting behind the wheel should fall beneath that standard. But most other states -- where marijuana is still considered an illegal substance -- have a zero-tolerance standard.


Those who are convicted of impaired driving face major legal and financial problems.'s What's Your Limit? tool, though geared toward those planning to drink, spells out the state-by-state penalties for a DUI conviction.


In most states, a driver convicted of a first-offense DUI is required to spend at least some time in jail -- 24 to 72 hours is common. Fines can reach $5,000. You'll lose your license in many places for a year.

You usually must file an SR-22 form -- an insurance company's guarantee to the state that you are carrying the mandatory coverage. The form is cheap, but the fact that you are required to have one is a huge red flag to insurance companies.


At least you won't face a possession charge.


You will, however, have to pay a huge penalty for insurance. Car insurers don't really care what you ingested, only that you have a conviction on your driving record. You should expect your insurance rates to double for as long as the DUI is on your record; in most states, that's three years.


We ran auto insurance quotes on basic liability and personal injury protection for a 24-year-old woman in Seattle driving a 2005 Honda Accord EX to and from work, with no prior violations. After adding a DUI conviction, the cheapest rate we found rose from $742 a year to $1,608.


More on and MSN Money:


Nov 8, 2012 3:17AM
THC unlike Alcohol stays in the system for days. So no I do not think it is fair to give an individual a D.U.I. because they have THC in their system. They need to come up with a different level for offenders . Personally , I think that Texting, Tweeting, and  Putting On Makeup during driving is far more dangerous thank smoking weed and driving. They need to pass more harsh Texting and Tweeting laws before they pass THC (D.U.I.) laws.
Nov 7, 2012 9:56PM

WAY TOO LOW of level for a POT related DUI conviction.


You smoke all weekend at a concert and you will fail on Monday morning on the way to work.  We MUST fight this clause of the new law or we will all regret it.  Any medical smokers and anyone who is "a couple of times before bed each night" daily smoker will fail on the way to work every morning AND they will fail almost every time tested.  They will ALWAYS be at risk of a DUI even with ZERO chance of impairment.   NOT A GOOD LAW as written with the DUI clause and I like everything else about it.


Please spread the word on this one thing. 


edit: Toke of the Town website has some good info on the level of 5 nanograms issue.   It will set us back to have this in place.  It will be abused.


Nov 8, 2012 1:39AM

sounds like someone needs to test and see what level u are impaired at.somebody call myth busters.

Nov 8, 2012 11:08AM
The thing about marijuana use to remember is that there should be no swerving or erratic driving like with alcohol!!! Personally,,,I would much be on the highway with someone that was stoned versus drunk!!!
Nov 7, 2012 10:55PM
DUI for THC you got to be kidding? 
Nov 7, 2012 10:19PM
If you take it for medication 3 times a day 7 days a week you would fail any following day that you happen to not take your medication. It has nothing to do with impairment it has to do with MONEY for Government coffers when they feel the desire to screw someone much like arbitrary speed limits that seta limit beyond safety when no one but you are on the road. They'll claim its to protect you from yourself even if it was on the open road of freedom.
Nov 8, 2012 9:31AM
Funny, although it has been medically proven that driving under the influence of marijuana actually IMPROVES YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE, the "insurance" cabal of legalized crime will still lobby to throw you in jail for usage.

I dont see anywhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights where insurance companies are allowed to effect legislation or even exist for that matter.  Perhaps it is time to make insurance companies illegal.
Nov 8, 2012 12:44AM
Most smokers drive better while stoned I've heard, they don't speed, pay attention more and chance less distractions.  In states where they legalize, accident rates drop.  Half the people on the road are on some prescription anyway, its no better.  How about we get it legalized fully so we can do some studies and prove its not safe first. 
Nov 8, 2012 1:26AM
In my opinion i believe we all need to chill a lil bit..  Whether a person is stoned while driving or not shouldnt be the focal point.. anytime we get behind the wheel of a car our chances of death have drastically increased.  Impatient drivers, big truckers, adolescent teens, the weather or even our emotional state plays a role in how we drive.  Hell even Micheal Phelps one of the greatest athletes of all time and many others have indulged in the substance and look at how they turned out.... Im sure if mike was stoned and swimming in the pool he would still win all those medals and no one would say anything (except the IOC)..........,. Anyways we have far more important things to worry about such as our childrens future education....
Nov 8, 2012 9:23AM
I knew this was coming. Government can rake in more cash with dui on pot. Its not about safety its about dollars. Why is it not illegal to drive a motorcycle without a helmet but illegal to drive a car without a seatbelt? Cash money our govenment and police are criminals sucking drivers dry.
Nov 8, 2012 9:51AM

I have traveled throughout the continental US of A under the "influence" of Marijuana. Mind you, I utilize it medicinally. Having said that, I have never experienced any troubles driving after a couple of hits.


If I roll a joint, it lasts me nearly a week...not a single "toke" session.


Now having said that, having ingested a single man-made narcotic one time. I couldn't tell you how I managed to make it home from the hospital's pharmacy ten miles away! Luckily no one was hurt during that episode! Never again will I utitilize anything involving man-manipulated substances!


Marijuana isn't as bad as most who have never tried it makes it out to be. Who do you trust more? The power above who provided this plant for our use or mankind who messes everything up when mandating, manufactoring or manipulating things for self-serving interests.





Nov 8, 2012 7:24AM
Friggin government has to find a way to make money from it, so they "fine" people. Protect and serve? Sure.
Nov 8, 2012 12:13PM
i'd rather be driving and slowing down alot with a bunch of pot heads on the road then dodging drunks.
Nov 8, 2012 9:37AM
It's been proven time and time again, stoned drivers are a very rare case, there busy doing things at a home.  It has also been proven through many studies that "pot impaired" drivers are MUCH more cautious and MUCH less reckless than drunk drivers.  This is a non-story, based on idiocy. 

Though I don't agree 100% with this law, it is a start.


Some heavy pot smokers can have 5 nanograms of THC in their system even if they don't smoke that day.


Some pot smokers have a much higher tolerance. Others might take one toke and totally lose touch and be out of control. Just like legal prescription narcotics, tolerances are different for everybody. One person might take a 5 mg percoset and be very messed up, while another person can take 3 or 4 percosets and be completely in control (pain has a way of using the narcotics so they don't affect the mind in some people -this also depends on tolerance and whether a certain narcotic agrees with a patient).


Like I said, we do have to start somewhere and the marijuana DUI laws will change over time just like they have for alcohol.

Nov 8, 2012 10:28AM

There are several over the counter medications that also impair one's ability to drive.  How do we deal with medicated drivers.  I have read a few bottles that simply say "do not drive or operate heavy eqquipment until you no how you react to the medicine"  others simply say "you should not drive or operate heavy equipment while under the influence. 

I also want to say that if Marijuan was such a hazzard to drivers where are the bodies?  Everyday there are thousand of High Schoolers that light up and drive.  If they were able to show the Death & Destruction caused by marijuana smokers while driving, we would be drowning in the negative ads from every anti drug group out there.

Nov 7, 2012 10:24PM
Nov 8, 2012 10:04AM
whatever,  dude  light up  or  shut up
Nov 8, 2012 1:33PM
Nov 8, 2012 12:01PM
I disagree with getting a DUI but what happens to businesses when they drug test employees now?  I doubt companies want employees coming to work high or even smoking at work.  Did anyone actually put thought into that? 
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