A Blog for California Lawyers

California DUI Marijuana

When people think of the phrase driving under the influence, they automatically think of being drunk while driving or at least over the legal limit for blood alcohol levels. However, DUI can mean being under the influence of marijuana while driving, and it is a serious offense. If you have smoked marijuana and get behind the wheel of a car, you are taking a chance that you will be pulled over and charged with a California DUI marijuana offense.

California DUI marijuana is serious

Too often people assume that marijuana is much safer than drinking, and this may be true. The law, however, does not allow driving under the influence of anything that will impair you driving. This is specified in Vehicle Code 23125(a).

Differences between DUI marijuana and alcohol

There are many issues that relate to a California DUI marijuana offense that are similar to an alcohol related DUI offense, and there are many differences that you need to be aware of. As with alcohol, if you are pulled over by a police officer, you need to be polite and cooperate by showing the three pieces of information everyone is required to show: a driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance. At this point, you may be asked questions, and if you think they may incriminate you, there is no legal requirement to answer them. Field sobriety tests may be asked for by the officer, but keep in mind that they are extremely subjective with regard to marijuana use. Sobriety tests for alcohol use are well established, but even then, they can be subjective as well.

Testing for marijuana

There is no breath test like there is for alcohol, but they can test your urine and blood for the presence of marijuana use. There is big difference when testing for marijuana than testing for alcohol. If you test positive for alcohol, it means that you have been drinking in the last few hours. When you test positive for marijuana, it simply means you have used marijuana in the last few days, at least with a urine test. A blood test is more accurate for how recent the usage occurred. Given a choice, always choose the urine test if you have used marijuana recently. If you haven’t used marijuana recently, then a blood test will be more accurate in demonstrating this.

An attorney is important

The big problem is that there are no objective standards for marijuana impairing driving, but the fines and penalties for California DUI marijuana infractions can be just as severe as with alcohol. If you are ever arrested for a DUI related to marijuana, contact an attorney as soon as possible.