THE TICKET CLINIC California

Guide to Marijuana & Driving in California: Laws & Penalties 

June 5, 2019

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.

Drivers who are arrested for marijuana DUI California can choose between a blood test or a urine test. 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.  Some state jurisdictions allow officers to give drivers an oral swab test, which can more accurately detect recent use than a blood or urine test. However, unlike the latter tests, state law does not require drivers to take an oral swab screening. Failure to submit to a blood test or urine test will result in a one-year license suspension and a fine, along with mandatory jail time for a DUI conviction.

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.

New Cannabis Laws for 2020

Smoking and driving has been prohibited in the state since recreational marijuana was legalized. As of January 1, the law prohibits passengers in a camper, housecar, pedicab, taxi, bus or limousine from using cannabis. However, California still permits alcohol consumption in these settings.

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.