Atlanta marijuana DUI attorney

What is Pre Trial Diversion?

There is a trend in the criminal justice system to treat certain types of non -violent crimes differently than in the past. In part because of overcrowding jails, there are now certain types of resolutions to criminal cases which do not involve incarceration, and also involve resolving cases without any adjudication of guilt.

You may have heard of something called a “Pretrial Diversion Program.” (PTD) What is a PTD and how does it work?

A pretrial diversion program is an agreement which is signed by a Defendant, Prosecutor, and Judge, which says that IF the Defendant does certain things within a specified time, the Prosecutor will ask the Judge to “nolle pros”(not prosecute) the case. PTD’s are generally available in misdemeanor cases, although some Counties in Georgia even allow PTDs in certain drug felony cases.

As an example, many counties now have PTD programs in cases involving underage possession of alcohol. They also have PTD programs involving misdemeanor marijuana possession.

PTDs are usually available to “first time offenders” as a way of allowing a chance to do something which will keep the offender from pleading guilty, being placed on probation, incarcerated, etc. Generally, a Defendant will agree to certain things within 90 to 120 days of signing the PTD agreement. Usually the defendant will pay a “program” fee of between $300 and $600, perform a certain amount of community service, and perhaps complete an alcohol and drug evaluation or DUI Risk Reduction School, as well as complete a certain number of alcohol and drug screens which must come back negative for any alcohol or illegal drugs.

While technically not placed on probation, the offender usually coordinates performance of the conditions of the agreement with a probation officer (PO) of the Court. If the offender completes the PTD satisfactorily, the PO notifies the prosecutor, who then asks the Court to dismiss the case. If the offender fails to complete the program satisfactorily, the PO notifies the prosecutor, and the charges are pursued through the normal court process.

The advantage to agreeing to a PTD is that once everything is completed, your charges are dismissed, AND any arrest record is “restricted” from public access.

While the disadvantage and risk of agreeing to a PTD and failing is minimal, the simple fact is that by NOT complying with the PTD, you have wasted a tremendous opportunity to have a criminal charge totally dismissed.

That is why, in most cases, if a PTD is available I encourage my clients to seriously consider taking advantage of such an opportunity.

 

States Are Struggling In Defining Marijuana DUIs

As more states legalize personal use of marijuana, they are now trying to define just how much marijuana in a person’s blood would be considered as an impaired driver.  States such as Colorado and Washington are trying to agree on an amount of Delta 9 THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) that would cause someone to be impaired to drive, and would therefore constitute a “per se” DUI.  The amount that they came up with is five or more nanograms of Delta 9 THC per milliliter, yet there are disagreements on whether even that amount is too low or too high.  “Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) acknowledges that detecting impairment caused by use of marijuana can be trickier than it is for alcohol.”  (NY Times, June 9, 2013)Police Officer - Eye Coordination




“Earlier this year, in a widely viewed broadcast, a Seattle TV station, KIRO, had three volunteers smoke marijuana before driving.  They started out well enough, and each were capable of driving safely even after they far exceeded the state’s 5 nanogram limit.”  (NY Times, June 9, 2013)




In states that have not legalized recreational use, such as Georgia, the legal definition of someone under the influence of marijuana is someone who is rendered “incapable of driving safely.”  There is currently no “per se” marijuana in Georgia.  There is a DUI “per se” level which is .08 grams but in Georgia the State must prove that you are “rendered incapable of driving safely due to marijuana.”  The State generally must show less safe driving, failure to perform balance tests, or physical manifestations of being “stoned.”  Most officers lack the training to accurately articulate someone who may be impaired due to marijuana; therefore, it is important that you do NOT voluntarily give the State any evidence which would incriminate you.




The Simple Rules apply if you are stopped in Georgia and are suspected of being under the influence of marijuana:

  • Don’t admit to smoking.
  • Don’t do any field tests.
  • Don’t agree to a blood or urine test.
  • Make the State prove that you are under the influence to the extent you were “rendered incapable of driving safely.”





For the latest on DUI and traffic laws news, visit the MRGADUI blog.  To inquire about legal representation for traffic offenses, contact Mickey Roberts today.  Also be sure to connect with Mickey on Facebook,Twitter and Google+.