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Cannabis DUI Terms Defined

Do you have questions about cannabis DUI terminology? You are not alone. The lingo around cannabis DUI charges can be a confusing alphabet soup of acronyms, and the exact definitions may depend on where you live. Different states have different definitions, so it is important to talk to a lawyer in your area that knows DUI law in your area.


Here are some cannabis DUI terms defined.


  • Drugs – A driving charge involving drugs can involve any kind of medication or drug. Here are some examples.
    • Over-the-counter drugs (OTC) drugs can impair driving and be used in a DUI or other driving charges. Some examples of OTC medicines that can impair driving are cough and cold medicines, sleep aids, and allergy medicines.
    • Prescription drugs, including those prescribed by your doctor for a medical condition and taken properly, can cause driving impairment. Some examples include medications for anxiety, antidepressants, pain medicines, muscle relaxants, sleep aids, stimulants, and anti-seizure drugs.
    • Illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, mescaline, PCP, methamphetamine, and psilocybin.
    • Cannabis of any kind can impair driving. Driving impairment could be determined based on the use of medical cannabis or recreational cannabis. Any dosage form could potentially be involved, including flower, tinctures, concentrates, or edibles. Many popular cannabis and hemp-derived products can impair driving and lead to a cannabis DUI charge, including Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, or THCO.
  • DUID – Driving under the influence of drugs.
  • DWAI – Driving while abilities impaired. Generally, DWAI may be used to refer to a lesser charge than a DUI in some states.
  • DWI – Driving while intoxicated, or driving while impaired, depending on an individual state’s law. Like DUI, DWI can refer to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Although DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, the exact differences vary between states.
  • Impairment – The term impairment refers to the point where an individual’s consumption of drugs or alcohol has affected judgment or physical ability, but at a lower level than intoxication. Impairment with alcohol can be based on blood tests, performance in standardized field sobriety tests, or observed behavior. With cannabis, although THC levels are not reliable indicators of cannabis impairment, state laws vary.
  • Intoxication – Physical or mental control that is markedly deteriorated by the effects of alcohol or drugs is referred to as intoxication. With alcohol DUIs, intoxication refers to a blood alcohol level that is higher than impairment. With cannabis, intoxication is more difficult to define and state laws are variable.
  • Open container – An open container of alcohol is typically defined as a container that has been opened, has a broken seal, or has some of the contents removed. Most states have laws that prohibit drivers and passengers from possessing an open container of alcohol inside of a vehicle. With expanding legalization of medical and adult-use cannabis, open container laws have been defined similarly by states, although there are differences in regulations. Usually, a cannabis open container is one that has a broken seal, has contents partially removed, or if there is evidence that cannabis was consumed in the vehicle.
  • OUI – Operating under the influence. OUI is a term only used in certain states, and it is often used interchangeably with DUI.

A cannabis DUI charge or arrest can be expensive, and the laws are constantly changing. Even medical cannabis patients who have followed the law and done everything right can still be charged with a cannabis DUI. It is important to consume cannabis responsibly, know the facts, and have a proactive legal plan. To find out specifics for cannabis DUI in your state, contact a DUI lawyer in your area.

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