OWI Charge for Marijuana Use: Penalties & Defense

Gavel depicting owi charge for marijuana in Michigan

Are you wondering if marijuana use can affect you while you’re driving? Or if it can result in an OWI charge if you get in an accident?

It turns out it can! At least, it can result in criminal charges if it is found in your bloodstream after a vehicle accident.

For Bay City, Michigan truck driver Kevin Chevalier, marijuana use has played a critical role in his charges after what must have seemed to him like a tragic accident.

According to reports, Chevalier was driving his semi truck at about 10:47 p.m. in January 2018 when he struck and killed 85-year-old Patricia Menne, who was walking in the crosswalk.

An eyewitness told police that Chevalier never applied his breaks and only swerved after he had hit Patricia Menne.

Chevalier told police that he saw her too late because she was wearing dark clothing. He said that he swerved left to try to avoid hitting her but ended up hitting her with the right front portion of his fender.

Initially, Chevalier told police at first that he hadn’t been wearing his corrective lenses. However, later, he explained that he was wearing them even though they were scratched.

Chevalier had allowed police to check his phone. The text records showed he hadn’t received any texts at the time of the accident. He then voluntarily took a breathalyzer test – which was negative for the presence of alcohol – and a blood test.

THC in the Blood Test Resulting in OWI Charge for Marijuana Use

Would Kevin Chevalier’s charges include, “operating a motor vehicle while under the influence causing death,” if no THC had been found in his blood?

Probably not as prosecutors would not have grounds on which to prove this charge.

He has also been charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Unfortunately, the first charge is a 15-year felony.

You may be surprised to know that Kevin Chevalier may be facing 15 years in prison for smoking a joint a week or more before this tragic incident occurred.

The blood test for marijuana use can’t show levels of intoxication, only the presence of THC metabolites in your bloodstream.

Additionally, while the effects of marijuana use fade quickly, the THC (a derivative of marijuana) stays in your fat cells for much longer.

Some THC has a half-life of 20 hours while some have a half-life of 10-13 days or more! However, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that THC is a controlled substance. As a result, any presence of THC in your bloodstream will be considered a violation of the law.


Kevin Chevalier’s case has many of the hallmarks of a situation that could happen to anyone. In his eyes, it was a typical driving day. He wasn’t drinking, and he wasn’t texting. He may have had no idea that the THC in his system would constitute breaking the law.

Unfortunately, the new marijuana laws will continue to be at odds with the intoxication laws in Michigan and OWI arrests are on the rise.

There may be no way to prevent a tragic accident like the one in this case. But, you can best protect yourself from an OWI charge for marijuana by abstaining from smoking or ingesting marijuana and driving.

Michigan OWI Defense Attorney

If you do find yourself facing an OWI charge related to marijuana use and driving, you need an experienced OWI defense attorney to fight the charges for you. Contact my office today.

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