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.

When the human body breaks down a psychoactive substance, it creates things called metabolites. Active metabolites in your body are usually accompanied by controlled substances and indicate that you’re currently intoxicated. Inactive metabolites show 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 THC metabolites in their urine, even if these metabolites are inactive and don’t indicate intoxication. A number of variables 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.

This holds true even if you weren’t intoxicated and didn’t cause the collision. If there’s an accident involving injury or death, the consequences can become much more severe.

Attorney Marc Lopez believes it isn’t fair that the State can use its intoxication statute to knowingly charge people that aren’t intoxicated. If you or a loved one has 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, and remember—always plead the 5th!