Wisconsin Supreme Court: Don’t Let People Smoke Marijuana in Your Car.

• September 25, 2023

You may not need a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer (like us) to tell you what recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court suggests: Don’t let other people smoke marijuana in your car! But we’ll explain it anyway.

In State v. Moore, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that police officers who detected the odor of marijuana coming from a vehicle but not specifically from its driver, still had probable cause to arrest and search the driver. In other words, it’s just as risky (at least if you’d prefer to not be arrested) to allow other people to smoke marijuana in your car even if you don’t, as it is to do so yourself. Let’s unpack that a bit.

First things first. Wisconsin law makes it illegal to drive a car with any detectable amount of a controlled substance. The reality is that even if you smoked marijuana the day before you are pulled over, or event the week before you are pulled over, you could still be found guilty of operating a motor vehicle with a detectable amount of marijuana in your system. That is, in effect, the same thing as a drunk driving conviction.

So, just like happened in Moore, if an officer pulls you over and smells the odor of marijuana (burnt or fresh) you may end up being arrested and subjected to a blood test (that’s another topic in and of itself). But, what if I wasn’t smoking and my passsenger was? Well, for Mr. Moore, that meant he was arrested and his blood was searched for a controlled substance. Under Moore, police are not required to have probable cause that the driver was the one responsible for the odor. It is enough if there is an odor.

What if I smoked marijuana in my car the day before, or the week before, but didn’t on the day I was pulled over? Short answer after Moore: trouble. If there is an odor of marijuana in your car, and you are pulled over, you are at risk of being arrested and searched.

There’s one more note that is worth mentioning on this topic. There is broad de-criminalization of hemp products. Smoking hemp produces an odor very similar to that of marijuana. And, it is still possible to be intoxicated from smoking hemp even though it is not a controlled substance. So use your common sense, and avoid this potential problems related to driving.

The attorneys at Coad Law Office can help you answer these and other important questions you may have about marijuana and/or drunk driving laws.

Call us today for a consultation.