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How marijuana can lead to OWI charges

Marijuana remains a prohibited substance in Indiana, both in its medical and recreational forms. The state even classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. The classification places it right next to more dangerous substances such as MDMA, mescaline and peyote.

Because marijuana is a Schedule I substance, an officer can charge a driver with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) if the driver tests positive in a traffic stop chemical test.

What are the penalties for a drug OWI involving marijuana?

State law on cannabis OWI

According to Indiana law, a driver who tests positive for any Schedule I substance, like marijuana, faces a drug OWI charge. The charge can lead to a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail. The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles could also suspend or revoke the driver’s license.

Unlike an alcohol OWI, wherein the driver must hit a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% before an officer can charge them, there’s no legal limit for marijuana. Any amount of cannabis detected in a chemical test can immediately lead to charges, especially if the officer also cites the motorist for reckless driving and intoxicated behavior.

Additional penalties

Drivers charged with OWI for cannabis use can face additional penalties if an officer finds the substance on their person during the traffic stop. Carrying even a small amount of marijuana can lead to a Class B misdemeanor charge, which is punishable with a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

The most severe penalties await those who possess at least 30 grams of cannabis or five grams of salvia or hash oil. They face a Level 6 felony, leading to fines of as much as $10,000 and up to 2 ½ years in prison.

Marijuana’s legalization in Indiana is still up for debate. Until actual laws are implemented, drivers should avoid using cannabis. Multiple penalties and criminal convictions await those violating marijuana and OWI laws.