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Impaired Driving: Understanding the Influence of Marijuana, CBD, Xanax, Muscle Relaxants and Other Substances

DWI cases extend beyond alcohol intoxication. In today's world, impaired driving can involve a wide range of substances, from marijuana and CBD to prescription medications like Xanax and muscle relaxants. Successfully navigating these cases requires a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding impaired driving, including the unique challenges posed by each substance.

Marijuana and its Impact on Driving

Understanding the effects of marijuana is imperative as legalization of marijuana continues to spread. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana, can impair cognitive functions, reaction times and spatial perception. Lawyers must be adept at evaluating cases involving drivers under the influence of marijuana and interpreting toxicology reports to build compelling defenses.


CBD, while lacking the psychoactive properties of THC, can still influence a driver's abilities due to its calming effects. Lawyers should be aware of the challenges in differentiating between CBD and THC in toxicology tests, as well as the potential interactions with other medications that could compound impairment.

Xanax and Benzodiazepines

Xanax and other benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medications with the potential to impair driving. Attorneys must delve into medical records and expert testimonies to discern whether the prescribed dosage played a role in the alleged impairment and if there were alternative transportation options available to the defendant, as necessity can be a defense in some cases.

Muscle Relaxants and Sedatives

Substances like muscle relaxants and sedatives can profoundly affect a driver's motor skills and cognitive abilities. Lawyers must scrutinize medical histories and consult with experts to establish a clear link between the medication's dosage and its influence on the client's driving capabilities.

Combination of Substances

In many cases, impairment arises from the combined effects of multiple substances. Lawyers must be adept at dissecting toxicology reports and consulting experts to ascertain the unique interactions between substances and their cumulative impact on a driver's abilities.

In a landscape where impaired driving cases extend beyond alcohol, legal practitioners must be equipped to navigate the intricate web of substances that can influence a driver's capabilities. By delving into the specific effects and interactions of substances like marijuana, CBD, Xanax, muscle relaxants and others, attorneys can build robust defenses that stand up to scrutiny in the courtroom. Staying abreast of the latest research and legal precedents in this dynamic field is paramount to providing effective representation for clients facing impaired driving charges.

Can You Be Considered Driving While Impaired If Not Actually Driving but Are in Your Car?

In North Carolina, individuals can be guilty of impaired driving if they are in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or the engine running. The test is whether the individual is in “actual physical control of the vehicle,” whether or not the vehicle is in motion.

When You Can and Can’t Be Charged with DWI in North Carolina

In North Carolina, you can be charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) if you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any impairing substance that affects your ability to safely drive. Whether you can be charged with DWI depends on several factors, including your level of impairment, the location of the incident and other circumstances. Here's a general overview of when you can and can't be charged with DWI in North Carolina:


When You Can Be Charged with DWI:

1. Public Roadways: You can be charged with DWI if you are operating a motor vehicle on a public road, highway or street while impaired. This includes not only major highways but also smaller roads and streets within cities and towns.

2. Private Property Open to Public: If you are on private property that is open to the public, such as a parking lot of a shopping mall or a business establishment, you can be charged with DWI if you are impaired and operating a motor vehicle. The key factor here is whether the property is accessible to the public.

3. Anywhere Accessible to the Public: Even if you are not on a public road or property but are on any area accessible to the public, such as a sidewalk or a pathway, and you are operating a motor vehicle while impaired, you can still be charged with DWI.

4. Impairment Threshold: In North Carolina, you can be charged with DWI if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or if you are otherwise appreciably impaired on an impairing substance. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, any detectable BAC can lead to charges of driving after consuming while under 21.

When You Might Not Be Charged with DWI:

1. Private Driveways: If you are on private property that is not open to the public, like your own driveway, and you are impaired while operating a motor vehicle, you are less likely to be charged with DWI. However, there are exceptions, such as if you create a public disturbance or pose a danger to others even on private property.

2. Non-Motorized Vehicles: DWI laws generally apply to motor vehicles. If you are impaired while operating a non-motorized vehicle, such as a bicycle or a horse-drawn carriage, you may not be charged with DWI. However, other laws may apply depending on the circumstances.

It's important to note that DWI laws can vary by jurisdiction and may change over time, so it's always best to consult with a legal professional if you have specific questions or if you're facing DWI charges.

Refusal of DWI Testing

In North Carolina, the "implied consent" law means that if you operate a motor vehicle on public roads in the state, you are considered to have implicitly consented to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are driving while impaired (DWI). The test can be a breathalyzer, blood test or urine test.

Recommendation: It is generally recommended to comply with a chemical test if you are suspected of DWI, particularly for a first offense. Refusing to take the test can have serious consequences, including immediate suspension of your driver's license. Further, law enforcement officers can get search warrants for blood and forcibly obtain samples, in which case, the penalties for refusal apply and the test results may also be admissible.

Consequences of Refusal: If you refuse a chemical test in North Carolina, your driver's license will be immediately revoked for a period of one year, with no eligibility for a limited driving privilege for six months. This is separate from any penalties you might face if convicted of DWI.

Remember, laws can change, and specific circumstances can vary widely, so it's crucial to consult with a qualified attorney for advice tailored to your situation. They can provide the best guidance based on the most current legal standards and your specific circumstances.