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Washington Marijuana DUI Laws

A marijuana plant grown in Washington

Washington Marijuana Plant photo by Bob Doran

According to, in 2012, the Washington voters endorsed Initiative Measure no. 502, which called for the elimination of treating recreational marijuana use as a serious crime for individuals above the age of 21. Part V of this measure established a DUI limit of 5.00 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Based on information from the Huffington Post, within the first six months of being legalized, 745 people were arrested for marijuana DUI, compared to the average of 1,000 per year. Drivers caught in Washington with marijuana in their system may face the revocation or suspension of a driver’s license, in addition to criminal charges.

Details of Washington’s Measure no. 502 Part V

According to Paul Armentano of, a per se limit regarding marijuana means that any detectable amount of THC (the psychoactive component) and other cannabinoids while driving would constitute a violation, despite whether or not there is any impairment of the individual’s driving ability. Additionally, studies have shown that concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids can remain in the blood for long periods of time that extend far beyond the state of impairment, making it possible for an individual who has THC in their blood from past use to be arrested even when they are not technically under the influence.

According to, individuals may be arrested if an officer has grounds to believe that the person was in operation of the vehicle while under the influence. A person has to consent to either a test by breath or by blood. Refusal of such a test will result in the immediate revocation of their driver’s license for one year and the refusal can be used against the accused in the criminal proceedings. If a person consents to the test, their license will be revoked for at least ninety days if the driver is above the age of 21 and their THC blood content is 5.00 nanograms or more.

How a Marijuana DUI can lead to a Criminal Record

While Washington’s new state law allows for the recreational use of marijuana, driving under the influence may still result in a criminal record. Individuals with 4 or more previous convictions within 10 years, and those previously convicted of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence may be convicted of a class C felony. Unlike an offense on your DMV record that falls off after a certain number of years, an offense on your criminal record will permanently remain on your record until you proactively have the offense removed. To remove your marijuana DUI from your Washington state criminal record, you need to have the DUI vacated – meaning expunged – from your criminal record. To see if you are eligible, take this free online eligibility test.

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