The Problem of Inactive Metabolites

If you get into a car accident today, should that give the State the opportunity to punish you for having gone to a party a few weeks ago? Indiana says, Yes, it should.

Under Indiana’s DUI / OVWI statute, if you operate a vehicle with a controlled substance or its metabolite in your body, you commits a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Metabolites are compounds produced from chemical changes of a psychoactive substance in the body, but they are not necessarily psychoactive themselves. Active metabolites in your body are usually accompanied by controlled substances and indicate that you’re currently intoxicated. Inactive metabolites indicate that you were intoxicated at some point in the past.

The presence of inactive THC metaboliteswhich can remain in the body for weeks (sometimes even months)is the primary indicator of marijuana use in blood, urine, or hair testing. Indiana law does not distinguish active from inactive metabolites.

This means the law reaches people with any detectable metabolites in their urine, even if these metabolites are inactive and don’t indicate intoxication. There are a number of variables that can affect how long THC metabolites remain in your body, and Indiana isn’t interested in any of them.

If you smoked marijuana a few weeks ago, and you get into a car accident today, you’d better hope there’s no reason for the police to order a blood or urine sample. If your test were to show the presence of inactive THC metabolites, you’d likely be charged with a Class C misdemeanor—even if you weren’t intoxicated and didn’t cause the collision. And if there is an accident with injury or death, the consequences can be increasingly more severe and punishable by up to 12 years in jail.

Attorney Marc Lopez believes it isn’t fair that the state can knowingly charge people that aren’t intoxicated under its intoxication statute. If you or a loved one have picked up a criminal charge based on the alleged presence of active or inactive metabolites, the attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm are here to help. Call us at 317-632-3642.