Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Serving the Entire Central Valley
California Vehicle Code §23152(a)
Under California law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any substance, where the substance causes physical or mental impairment that makes a person unable to drive safely. The law does not care if the substance is an illegal or legal drug, if it causes impairment. Most often, the DUI statutes apply to drivers under the influence of alcohol. However, many drivers are charged with a DUI while under the influence of marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are not exempt from DUI laws.
The first DUI offense will be charged under California Vehicle Code (CVC) §23152(a). It will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor with possible penalties of 6 months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, this charge carries a mandatory alcohol education program, 3 years of probation, and a suspended or restricted license.
If the person charged is under the age of 21, then their license will be suspended for 1 year. If the DUI results in bodily injury or death to another person, the offense can be prosecuted as a felony.
Marijuana DUI Defense
A marijuana DUI charge can result in all the same penalties as an alcohol DUI. However, an attorney experienced in marijuana DUI defense can greatly improve your outcome in court. When a driver is pulled over for drunk driving, they are presumed to be intoxicated with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, there is no set level of THC in the blood to automatically indicate intoxication. Without a clear threshold for intoxication, the prosecutor has a harder time of proving their case.
Additionally, an experienced and knowledgable marijuana DUI defense attorney can call upon studies and experts to demonstrate marijuana did not cause impairment for the driver. There is scientific evidence that marijuana does not have impairing effects two to three hours after the drug is consumed. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a study that marijuana's effects quickly dissipate after just one hour.
With a skilled DUI attorney on your side, they will call into question the reliability of the prosecution's testing results. These results may prove nothing more than the presence of marijuana metabolites in the body, whether or not they had any psychoactive properties. The tests may not even be able to show the difference between the potent 11-OH-THC metabolite and THC-COOH, which has no psychoactive effects. Simple presence of the marijuana metabolite does not prove impairment.
Refusing Questions and Tests
You have the right to refuse to answer any questions by a law enforcement officer, except to identify yourself. You also have the right to refuse any field sobriety tests (FST). If you chose to refuse to perform FSTs, simply state that you have been advised to refuse them, but stay calm and respectful. You may also refuse field breath tests. However, because of California's implied consent laws, you cannot refuse a chemical test after being arrested, without consequences. Doing so may result in a one-year suspension of your driver's license, and can be used against you in court.
Choosing the Chemical Test
After you are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, the police will ask you too take a breath or blood test. THC does not show up on a breath test, so blowing in the breathalyzer will not register THC levels in the blood. However, if the police suspect you are under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, you may be required to take a blood test.
If you are arrested for a marijuana DUI in Tulare, Kings, Madera, or Fresno, you should contact the attorneys at Wapner Jones, PC. We have the necessary experience with marijuana DUI's to make sure you are not wrongly convicted of a DUI. Just because you smoked a little marijuana, does not mean you are DUI.
Contact us today at (559) 257-4707.