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Guide to Marijuana & Driving in California: Laws & Penalties 

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California marijuana laws have long been among the nation’s most progressive. Since the state legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, the definition of driving under the influence (DUI) has been expanded to include marijuana even for medical users with a prescription. However, many DUI lawyers note that this law has not been consistently enforced as no legal limit for cannabis consumption behind the wheel has been established.

Laws Governing Marijuana DUI Arrest 

If you are pulled over in California for cause, such as having a missing tail light, speeding or running a stop sign, the police officer may charge you with DUI if he or she has reasonable evidence of impairment. Under marijuana and driving laws, this evidence could include your general appearance, the smell of marijuana, apparent drug paraphernalia in your car or erratic or unsafe driving patterns.

In some cases, the officer who made the traffic stop may seek backup from a drug recognition expert (DRE). This individual is trained to look for signs of drug impairment and perform field sobriety tests.

If you are arrested, you will be given a blood test to screen for the presence of cannabis. However, California cannabis laws have not yet established a legal limit for impairment. What’s more, the active chemicals in marijuana can remain in your bloodstream for up to 48 hours after consumption.

California Marijuana DUI Penalties 

The state’s marijuana-related DUI penalties are the same as for convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug. For the first offense, you could receive a six-month license suspension, mandatory completion of a 90-day DUI education program, fines of up to $390 and even up to six months in jail depending on the circumstances of your case.

If you’ve been charged with a marijuana DUI, you need advice from an experienced reckless driving lawyer . Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf for lower penalties or even complete dismissal of your case.