On January 1, 2018, recreational marijuana use became legal in California.
The new law allows individuals 21 years of age and over to purchase and
possess up to 1 ounce of the substance. However, although it is not unlawful
to smoke it, driving while under its influence is prohibited. In a survey
of Californians, although many know that driving under the influence of
marijuana is illegal, they weren’t aware of the penalties.
The statutes concerning this type of offense are the same as those involving
DUIs. Specifically, under California Penal Code 23152(f), drivers cannot operate
a vehicle if they are “under the influence of any drug.”
However, the law does not state what amount of marijuana a person can have
in their system while driving. With alcohol, the legal BAC limit is .08%
for people operating passenger cars and .04% for commercial drivers.
Some officers are trained to determine if a person is under the influence
of drugs. These drug recognition experts watch drivers’ for various
clues to see if their behavior suggests that something other than alcohol
is present in their systems.
One Southern California police department goes so far as taking a driver’s
blood right on the spot to determine if marijuana is in their system.
If it is, they are arrested and charged with a DUI.
Because the state does not have a legal blood alcohol concentration limit
for marijuana, any amount could be used as evidence to argue that the
driver could not safely operate a vehicle. The trouble with this is that
the substance could be present in a person’s system for days after
they have smoked or ingested it, meaning they may test positive but weren’t impaired.
The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are the same
as those for driving under the influence of alcohol. If convicted, a person
could spend time in jail and face steep fines. Additionally, their driver’s
license could be suspended.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Appel & Morse
If you were accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, our attorneys
are here to fight for your rights. We know how to build compelling defenses
in these types of cases, and we will work toward getting your charges
reduced or dropped.
To schedule your free consultation with our team, call us at (805) 467-6060 or
contact us online.