Suspended Driver’s License Following Marijuana Charges

Utah residents can expect to have their driver’s license suspended following a DUI, yet they may be surprised when they lose their license following marijuana charges which were not acquired when behind the wheel.

DUI

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Anyone who is found guilty for a DUI in Utah which includes driving with any measurable amount of a drug in their system can face anywhere from two days up to six months in jail and have their license suspended for:
• 120 days for individuals 21 years of age or older,
• One year or until age 21 for individuals who are 19 or 20 years old, or
• Until age 21 for individuals under age 19.
A driver’s license may be revoked if there are previous arrests for the same charges.

Utah Controlled Substances Act

A DUI isn’t the only marijuana charge that can end in a driver’s license being suspended. In Utah, cultivating, distributing, or even simple possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia may result in a driver’s license being suspended for six months. Even a failed attempt to possess marijuana can result in the same suspension.

Safeguard your license after a marijuana charge

License Suspension after Marijuana Charges

Photo by: Kat

Losing a license can make it difficult or nearly impossible for some Utah residents to attend school or make it to they place of employment. Anyone facing marijuana charges should consult with a criminal defense attorney regarding protecting their driving rights. An experienced attorney can help an individual keep their driver’s license whether through helping to prove no fault or through a plea in abeyance, which may end in a fine but no driver’s license suspension.

Felony Child Endangerment for Drugs in Reach of Children

Two individuals from American Fork Utah are facing a variety of drug charges along with felony child endangerment for storing drugs within the reach of children in the home.

Other people’s children

Child Endangerment

Photo by: Mary T Moore

25 year old Zachery Walters and 24 year old Hilary Lay were staying in the basement portion of a home that belonged to another person when they were arrested for possessing hefty amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The quantity of the drugs confiscated was large enough to bring distribution charges. While the couple knowingly possessed illegal drugs, they likely failed to realize they would also be facing additional felony charges for child endangerment since the landlord’s children had bedrooms nearby; thus potentially putting the kids at risk of coming into contact with the drugs.

3rd degree felony child endangerment

Child endangerment is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states regarding endangerment of a child that “a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia;”

A technicality

While there are no reports or evidence that any children in the home that Walters and Lay were staying in had come in contact with drugs, section 112.5 clarifies that “exposed to” can mean that because of the where the children were in proximity to the drugs, they could have potentially possessed, seen, or even smelled the illegal drugs or paraphernalia. Although Walters and Lay will likely face some drug charges, there are other charges which could be considered questionable such as distribution and child endangerment. An experienced criminal defense attorney is always suggested but would be greatly recommended in a case such as this.

DUI for Driving with Traces of Marijuana Metabolites in System

Drivers in Utah can be arrested for a DUI days and even weeks after getting high due to traces of marijuana metabolites remaining in the system.

Up to 6 months imprisonment

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Utah code 41-6a-517 states “a person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state if the person has any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in the person’s body.” So what is a metabolite or what is considered a “measurable controlled substance”?

Marijuana metabolites

THC is the element in marijuana that gives users a “high”, while a metabolite is an inactive part of the drug that stays in the body much longer than a high lasts. A few drug metabolites such as those from cocaine are water soluble, meaning they are metabolized and flushed from the system rather quickly. THC-COOH, the marijuana metabolite commonly tested for in drug tests, is fat soluble and can remain in a system for weeks after getting high, especially for frequent users.

Metabolize fast or take the bus

Photo by: Steven Depolo

Photo by: Steven Depolo

For any marijuana users that need to drive in the coming up days or weeks, it might be wise to take public transportation until all traces of metabolites have processed through the system. Unlike neighboring states, Utah currently has a zero tolerance policy and persons charged of driving with a measurable controlled substance can be found guilty of a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail. If facing a metabolite DUI, consult with an attorney immediately.