Midweek Marijuana Law Review: Marijuana and Motor Vehicles pt. II

Did you know that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Vermont?

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This piece is purely for informational purposes regarding Act 86, a Vermont bill that pertains only to Vermont and has no bearing on federal law.

Act 86, Vermont’s new marijuana legislation set to take effect July 1, does touch upon marijuana consumption by drivers, but only to tack on extra penalties. It reads:

Sec. 13. 23 V.S.A. 1134 is amended to read:

  1. MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR; CONSUMPTION OR POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL OR MARIJUANA

(a) A person shall not consume an alcoholic beverage or marijuana while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway. As used in this subsection, the prohibition on consumption of marijuana by the operator shall extend to the operator’s consumption of secondhand marijuana smoke in the vehicle as a result of another person’s consumption of marijuana.

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Neither you nor your passenger are allowed to smoke/consume marijuana while in the car. Failure to do so could land you with a steep civil fine.

1134. MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR; CONSUMPTION OR POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL OR MARIJUANA

(d) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $500.

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Existing Laws

Don’t let Act 86 mislead you. Driving under the influence of marijuana (and other substances) in Vermont is already illegal and can lead to big fines and criminal penalties. According to NORML and 23 V.S.A. 1201, a person in Vermont is guilty of DUI or DUID if they operate any vehicle on a highway when they are under the influence of any drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of driving safely.

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Provided that there isn’t an accident and no deaths have occurred, each DUID could lead to:

First offense: Up to a $750 fine, or imprisonment for up to 2 years, or both; $160 for related DUID surcharges; and suspension of license and driving privileges for a period of 90 days.

Second offense: Up to a $1,500 fine, or imprisonment for up to two years, or both; at least 200 hours of community service, or 60 consecutive hours of imprisonment; mandatory $160 for related DUID surcharges; and suspension of license and driving privileges for a period of 18 months.

Third and subsequent offense: Up to a $2,500 fine, or imprisonment for up to five years, or both; at least 400 hours of community service, or 100 consecutive hours of imprisonment; mandatory $160 for related DUID surcharges; and suspension of license and driving privileges for life.

So remember that old National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slogan: “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” In the spirit of Act 86, we can add another to that: “Driving with a toke? Watch $500 go up in smoke.”

Written by The Chad

Real name is T.J. Anania. Hi.

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