Q: Is it legal to smoke weed while driving?
A: I kind of can’t believe I have to say this but, obviously, no.
Still, let’s address it, because a few people have asked about it while others have told me they’ve witnessed the following scenario:
They’re near a pot shop when they notice a stranger lighting up a pre-roll or — more astonishingly — packing a bowl with their freshly acquired cannabis while driving out of the parking lot.
First: If you’re packing a bowl while driving, how are you steering? Are you driving with your knees, the way I do when I’m dipping french fries in ranch? These are just a few of the many questions I have.
According to Tacoma police spokeswoman Shelbie Boyd (and perhaps according common sense), it’s illegal to smoke weed while driving, the same way it’s illegal to drink alcohol while driving.
It’s also illegal to be high while driving, the same way — you guessed it — it’s illegal to be drunk and drive.
“When it comes to cannabis, they fall under the same classification: They are driving under the influence,” Boyd said. “You can be arrested for a DUI for drinking and for smoking marijuana. It’s not safe. It impairs your ability to drive safely whether it be a car, motorcycle, a boat, any of them.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to do it anyway. And getting a DUI can be a pretty big deal.
It’s also illegal to “open a package of” or consume marijuana in public places, according to state law. A public place includes streets and roads, according to the state’s definition. It also includes “public dance halls,” public trains, parks, basically everywhere other than at home, Boyd said.
Boyd said as Washingtonians have adjusted to marijuana being legalized, it seems like people are testing the waters, maybe too much. Sure, maybe from experience you know that you can drink a beer and be OK to drive, but people might not fully realize how impaired they are when they smoke and get behind the wheel. Plus, weed is legal now, they figure.
“They may not know their limits yet, so unfortunately I think people are kind of testing that instead of just being safe and calling an Uber,” Boyd said. “An Uber can take you to the grocery store, they can take you to the Jack in the Box. My concept is, why not be safe?”
Out of fairness, a Lyft can take you to those places, too.