Evidence in Marijuana OWI Cases
By Andrew Mishlove on February 26, 2020
As reported by NPR a few years ago, law enforcement currently does not have a reliable field test to assess the level of THC in a person’s system. The THC level can only be assessed via blood test following arrest, and there are no set legal limits regarding marijuana intoxication and safe driving. As a result, marijuana OWI/DUI stops are subjective in nature, and prone to human error.
Police officers in Wisconsin tend to look for different kinds of evidence when making marijuana OWI arrests. The attorney at Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC would like to go over some of the evidence and considerations that law enforcement makes when stopping someone for suspected cannabis use.
Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
In order for law enforcement to pull someone over, there needs to be a reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed a crime. That means there is probable cause for pulling over that driver. Reasonable suspicion could involve erratic driving, failure to observe a traffic sign or signal, and failure to observe the speed limit.
Signs of Possible Marijuana Use
Since law enforcement does not have a way to detect marijuana use while making a traffic stop, they’ll tend to look for signs of possible intoxication. That may include:
- Red eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Slurred speech
- Problems with coordination
- Tongue discoloration
- The smell of cannabis in the vehicle
Keep in mind that these potential signs of marijuana use are subject to interpretation, and are often linked to other health issues or circumstances.
Cannabis or Evidence of Possession in the Vehicle
If a driver exhibits signs of marijuana use, law enforcement may search the vehicle for marijuana or any sort of cannabis product. That include marijuana itself, edible forms of cannabis, and so forth.
Since marijuana possession is not legal in Wisconsin, drivers and vehicles occupants may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony simply for having cannabis on them at the time of the traffic stop.
Marijuana Paraphernalia in the Vehicle
Law enforcement may not need to find marijuana itself in the vehicle. There could be marijuana paraphernalia in the vehicle that serves as evidence of cannabis use and intoxication. That could include discarded joints, rolling papers, pipes, empty containers of edible cannabis products, and so forth.
Issues with Evidence in Marijuana OWIs
While some of the above evidence may seem compelling, it needs to be considered in the context of the traffic stop. If law enforcement did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion for pulling you over, the evidence may not be admissible.
Our attorneys can go over the circumstances surrounding your case and determine whether or not your traffic stop was legitimate. We can help get your charges dropped or reduced, and give you sound legal guidance throughout the process.
Learn More About Marijuana OWI Cases
If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana and require legal assistance, be sure to contact our skilled team of OWI attorneys. You can reach the attorneys of Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC at our Milwaukee location at (414) 206-6919, our Oshkosh location at (920) 306-8500, our West Bend location at (262) 239-4828, and our Waukesha location at (262) 207-4527.
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