Seattle DUI prosecutors say juries confused about driving high

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE - When it comes to smoking pot and driving, Seattle's top DUI prosecutors say you'd be surprised how many people think it's legal.
 
"It does appear that there's a common misconception out there in the public if you use marijuana because now it's supposedly legal that if you use it and you drive, that's OK," said Megan Hastings, said Seattle DUI prosecutor.
 
Even before the passage of I-502, Hastings and Miriam Norman said that it's been an uphill battle to convince a jury in marijuana DUI cases.
 
"They were very very impaired and for whatever reason the jury did not meet my burden and they found them not guilty," said Norman.
 
However Hastings and Norman could not say how many cases were lost because of the misconception about driving high.
 
We asked several people in Seattle if they knew it was a crime to use pot and drive.
 
Out of 10 people, seven said they believed it was a crime to drive high and three were not completely clear on the law.
 
City attorneys are also working with the Seattle Police Department on outreach efforts to educate the public that it is illegal to drive high.
 
SPD is also working to train more officers in programs that will help them identify drivers under the influence of marijuana.
 
"We train law enforcement in getting out to the public that it doesn’t matter what level you are doesn't matter your BAC level it doesn't matter your THC level if you are DUI, you will be prosecuted," said Norman.
 
Because of this problem, the State Patrol is rewriting its old drunken driving slogan now that recreational pot is legal.
 
The old slogan was, "Drive Hammered, Get Nailed." The new slogan is, "Drive High, Get a DUI."
 
The state patrol says the original slogan was misleading because you don't have to be drunk to still be an impaired driver.