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Tips for Avoiding a Cannabis DUI

Tips for Driving with Weed
PHOTO Simon Blackley

Legal

Tips for Avoiding a Cannabis DUI

Traveling with cannabis can be risky, here are some helpful suggestions to make sure you’re within the law.

Although many people do it, the first and most important thing to know and really understand is that no matter where you live (and whether weed is legal or not), it is 100 percent illegal to drive while high. The laws vary wildly from state to state, but in some cases even just the smell of cannabis can be used a probable cause for a search of your belongings which could get you charged with illegal possession or even arrested. A good tip in general to avoid any issues is to not smoke in your car at all and most definitely don’t get in your car right after smoking without freshening up (i.e. cologne or perfume, mouthwash and hand sanitizer) first just to be safe.

If you must travel with cannabis, the most important thing is to make sure that it is put away in a concealed container that has not been opened and completely out of reach. If you have a product that has been opened in any way or the seal has been broken, it should be somewhere that is clearly inaccessible like a locked glove compartment your trunk so that there is no confusion about whether or not you have been partaking while you are driving. Never have your cannabis in a pocket or anywhere on you just to eliminate any further issues.

It’s important to consider where you are driving. For short distances around your city or to and from events is one thing, but driving across state lines even if it’s legal in the other state is considered a federal offense. For example, if you’re in Nevada and happen to have a little weed left over from your trip, driving home to California would be a major risk if you were pulled over. You could potentially be charged with drug trafficking. Though the odds of being pulled over and searched is low, there’s really no reason to take the chance if it can be avoided.

If you are pulled over for speeding or some other traffic offense, it’s completely up to you whether you would like to volunteer any information about what you have in your car with you. It’s a sad reality but people of color, particularly black people, are regularly targeted and charged more often for possession, so telling an officer that you have weed without being asked is probably not going to work in your favor. It’s best to know your rights, know what’s expected in the state you’re in and wait until you are directly asked. Keep in mind that the amount of cannabis you can legally carry with you depends on the state you are in as possession limits vary.

Otherwise, just be cool if you are pulled over. If you haven’t been smoking in your car, don’t smell like weed and don’t appear to be visibly high or otherwise impaired, just try to relax and focus on the actual reason why you were pulled over. Cops in states with recreational use will most likely be on the lookout for telltale signs that you’ve been smoking if they have any suspicion but otherwise, they are interested in why you ran that red light, didn’t signal or don’t have your registration up to date.

Before you find yourself in this situation, though, it’s best to be on top of the laws where you live or where you plan to travel. You can visit NORML to check out their convenient list of cannabis laws by state to make sure you have the most information possible before driving with cannabis.

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