Is It Against the Law to Drive After Huffing?
It is against the law in Michigan to drive after huffing if you are “under the influence” or impaired from huffing. It’s not against the law to drive after huffing if you’re not under the influence or impaired by the huffing. However, it is still against the law to huff an inhalant as a drug.
Operating While Intoxicated by Huffing
It is against Michigan law to operate while intoxicated by an intoxicating substance. What’s an intoxicating substance? An intoxicating substance includes the vapors and fumes involved in huffing.
Huffing is the process of inhaling chemicals to get high. Such chemicals include solvent chemicals found in glues, paints, gasses, etc. These are often in industrial products that can be purchased legally. A common inhalant found in driving under influence cases is DFE, which is the chemical in Dust-Off, and otherwise legal aerosol used to remove dust from keyboards and electronics.
Driving Under the Influence from Huffing
When we hear the term DUI, we often think of someone who has had too many drinks after leaving the bar. Or maybe we think of someone who has smoked marijuana before driving. Michigan DUI law is broad. The DUI law covers more than just traditional alcohol and your run-of-the-mill drugs.
Recognizing that people may inhale chemicals to get high and get behind the wheel, Michigan law was expanded to include any such chemical under the DUI Laws.
Under the definition of Michigan DUI law, an intoxicating substance could be almost anything. MCL 257.625(25) defines intoxicating substance as,
a) means any substance, preparation, or a combination of substances and preparations other than alcohol or a controlled substance, that is either of the following:
(i) Recognized as a drug in any of the following publications or their supplements:
(A) The official United States Pharmacopoeia.
(B) The official Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States.
(C) The official National Formulary.
(ii) A substance, other than food, taken into a person’s body, including, but not limited to, vapors or fumes, that is used in a manner or for a purpose for which it was not intended, and that may result in a condition of intoxication.
As you can see, an intoxicating substance can be a lot of things. It is a very expansive definition. As far as huffing goes, you can see under subsection (ii) that inhalant type chemicals are included in that definition.
A person must be “under the influence” to be convicted of an OWI for huffing, or at least impaired by the huffing. This means the act of huffing and driving alone is insufficient for a conviction for an OWI. The prosecution must prove the huffing affected the driver. Do not be fooled into believing you’re guilty for driving after huffing. There must be impairment or influence from the huffing that affects your driving for you to actually be guilty.
Fighting DUI Charges
Don’t simply walk into court and plead guilty to a DUI charge. A conviction for a DUI always stays on your record. Therefore it is a lifelong consequence.
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Lawyer in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.