Driving is a function that involves an amount of responsibility. Even though in some states the use of recreational marijuana has been made legal it is treated the same as alcohol when operating a motor vehicle. As a result, being charged with driving under the influence of pot can adversely affect the person’s driving privileges and driving record if charged under the current laws.
Elements of California Marijuana DUI Laws
The statutes that may affect drivers using recreational marijuana include 23152(a) and 23152(e). These are California Marijuana Vehicle codes that include:
- It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
- The main focus of this statute is written to state: Driving a vehicle while impaired or under the influence of marijuana. The vehicle is not only a motor vehicle such as a car, truck or motorcycle. This statute includes scooters, mopeds, and even bicycles.
Under the Influence
A person is considered under the influence of marijuana when:
- If a person has used any amount of weed prior to operating a vehicle.
- If a person is impaired to a degree they are unable to operate a vehicle as a sober person would drive.
Testing for Suspected Marijuana DUI
Currently, the testing for marijuana is not accurate enough to measure the THC level of the person suspected of driving while under the influence of recreational weed. This leaves the two basic tests that are also used for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is a urine test or blood test that can produce results of the blood alcohol level.
This is where it becomes tricky for testing a person under the influence of pot since there is not a specific way to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at the time. The use of marijuana will remain in a person’s blood and urine for an extended amount of time up to a month, unlike alcohol. In the event, a saliva test is conducted, the results could indicate marijuana was used, but again it cannot pinpoint when the consumption of weed took place.
What to do if Ticketed for DUI
In the event charges of driving under the influence happens due to the use of recreational marijuana use under Code 23152(b). The driver should not admit to use of the drug prior to operating a vehicle. However, the one thing police officers may look for:
- The odor of pot on the individual and in their vehicle.
- Related par paraphernalia like rolling papers, roach clips, a pipe or bong.
- Glassy, watery or red eyes.
- Reaction time.
- Slurred or slow speech.
- Failure of a field sobriety test.
The person charged or ticketed may want to consider consulting an attorney specializing in DUI and DWI. There are valid defenses that can be used in cases involving weed since there are not accurate testing methods. Valid defenses can be successful.
The fact that marijuana can remain in the system for up to 30 days, and without testing for current use whether the driver was under the influence is questionable.
It takes a clear understanding of the statutes that apply to driving under the influence to drivers who do use weed. While anyone using marijuana should be responsible and not get behind the wheel while under the influence they also should not be penalized days or weeks later. This is why discussing it with a lawyer and having legal representation can be beneficial since the penalties can be harsh for a first DUI and even more severe if it is the driver’s second infraction for driving under the influence.
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