Traffic Q&A: If you smoke marijuana in your car, you risk getting a citation

Question: Is it OK to smoke pot in my car? — Anonymous, Tacoma

Answer: That depends on where your car is, according to Tim Lewis, chief of the Misdemeanor Division at the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Washington’s new marijuana law (RCW 69.50.445) prohibits the consumption of marijuana in view of the general public.

“On a public roadway, you would be in public view, with little to no expectation of privacy,” Lewis said.

“Additionally, if an individual were consuming marijuana while driving, law enforcement would have reasonable suspicion to stop that vehicle for the infraction and would likely be able to investigate the driver’s level of impairment in determining whether or not they have probable cause to arrest for DUI-marijuana.”

Tacoma attorney Jay Berneburg, who specializes in marijuana law, agrees with Lewis.

“The short answer is it’s not OK,” Berneberg said. “The minimum consequence would be a civil infraction for smoking marijuana in public. You can be cited and made to pay a fine.

“If police — or any other member of the public, for that matter — can observe you smoking weed in your car, that is public and therefore not legal.”