Articles Tagged with weed laws

Driving under the influence for marijuana is the same offense for driving under the influence of alcohol in DC. Its a serious crime in the District of Columbia. For first offenders, DUI charges carry a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and or a $1,000.00 fine. Having said that, there is no felony DUI charge in DC. That means the offense is a misdemeanor no matter how many times someone gets arrested for it. However, DUI and DWI cases in DC are the only misdemeanors in the entire D.C. Criminal Code that carry mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain aggravating factors.

Mandatory minimum jail sentences require a judge, under the law, to impose jail under certain circumstances. That means the judge could honestly believe the defendant is a saint but, if convicted, under certain circumstances, would have to impose jail. The fact that DUI cases carry potential mandatory minimum sentences, unlike any other misdemeanors in DC, shows how serious the criminal justice system takes DUI charges in DC.

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Unlike most jurisdictions, the District of Columbia Superior Court does not operate on a cash bail system. That means there are no bail bondsman in the District of Columbia. In addition, how much an arrested person can pay has no bearing on whether the person actually gets released. Instead, the D.C. code has something called the Bail Reform Act, which creates a condition-based system for pretrial release.

There are certainly benefits to the approach but also some problems. Unlike many states, no person arrested will languish in jail because they cannot afford to pay a bondsman. However, the condition-based system actually has a practical effect of essentially putting the defendant on probation before even getting convicted. For most misdemeanor offenses, like DUI and simple assault, the judge will release the individual on personal recognizance.  Personal recognizance is just on the person’s promise to return to court.

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The answer is complicated but probably not.  In 2015, the District of Columbia City Council passed legislation that legalized marijuana under local law. The legislation codified Proposition 71, which was a voter initiative that the citizens of the District overwhelmingly supported. This paved the way for a new era in marijuana laws in the DC. However, Republicans in Congress have each year interfered with the will of local voters and put a “rider” into a spending bill that blocks the local government from the ability to create a regulatory mechanism for recreational dispensaries.

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