Utah is notorious for its strict, zero-tolerance approach to the use of marijuana and other drugs like opiates. These laws have only become more complicated since the legalization of marijuana in neighboring Colorado. Whether you’re caught driving in Utah with traces of legal marijuana consumed in Colorado, or with traces of legally prescribed opiates in Utah, you’re subject to serious legal repercussions. As such, it’s more important than ever to do your research and make sure you have a strong understanding of these laws in Utah so that you can keep yourself safe and out of legal trouble.
If you’re facing marijuana or opiate charges, you don’t have to fight them alone. Kelly Cardon & Associates has been working in criminal defense for more than 25 years. With our knowledgeable team and our experience working in criminal defense, we can help to turn your case in your favor. Before calling our office in Ogden, Utah, learn more about the different laws surrounding marijuana and opiates.
Marijuana vs. Opiates in Utah?
While there’s zero tolerance for the distribution and consumption of marijuana in Utah, there are a number of legal and prescribable opiates. Some common prescription opiates include: codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine. While these prescription drugs are legal to consume when they’re prescribed to you (and used as per your doctor’s instructions), there are some legal risks to consider.
First, even if you’re prescribed a type of opiate, you can still be charged for a DUI if you’re operating a bike or vehicle, there are metabolite traces in your system and they can show impairment due to the opiates. This is particularly tricky considering that the effects of a prescribed drug can wear off before the metabolite traces are completely flushed from your system. So if you’re taking any prescription opiates, it’s safest to avoid operating a vehicle until the metabolite traces are thoroughly flushed from your system.
One of the biggest differences between marijuana and opiates is how long either substance stays in your system after consumption. Obviously, there are a number of factors that dictate how long certain substances will stay in your system, so the exact numbers depend on the person and the circumstances of their use. But in a general sense, opiates can be traceable in saliva and blood for upwards of 6 to 12 hours after consumption. Whereas marijuana can remain in the bloodstream for a lot longer, upwards of weeks depending on the factors. And that’s part of where Colorado’s legalization of marijuana has complicated Utah law.
Understanding Utah’s Metabolite DUI
One section of Utah law where marijuana and opiate laws intersect is the metabolite DUI charge. Metabolite DUI laws are notoriously strict in Utah. As a misdemeanor B, you’re subject to a $1,000 fine and upwards of 6 months in jail. Unlike with alcohol, marijuana and opiates can stay in your system for long periods of time after their consumption.
For example, if you legally smoke marijuana in Colorado a few days before driving through Utah, and a trooper suspects your driving might be impaired by any kind of substance use, you are subject to a metabolite DUI if they find traces of Measurable Controlled Substances in a blood test. Many people don’t understand that under Utah’s metabolite DUI statute, you can get arrested in Utah even if you smoked marijuana legally right across the Colorado border. Even if the effects of the substance have worn off, any metabolite traces of Measurable Controlled Substances will result in the equivalent charge of measurable controlled substance, also known as the metabolite law.
One way metabolite DUIs differ from alcohol DUIs is that they can be more difficult to prove in court. With alcohol, the only proof needed is a breathalyzer reading of .08 percent or higher. For a metabolite DUI, there needs to be probable cause of impairment, as well as a properly administered blood test. Any missteps in that process can lead to the whole case being thrown out.
You can find more information on metabolite DUIs by reading this previous blog post.
Are you in Need of Legal Expertise?
If you’re facing metabolite DUI charges in Utah, we’re here to help. We can help you minimize your exposure to life altering consequences. We offer free case analyses for our prospective clients. For residents of Salt Lake City, you can call us at 801-328-1110. Residents of Northern Utah can reach us at 801-627-1110. You can also contact us here.