Marijuana Legalization and Driving Laws in California

June 19, 2017

What happens if you’re accused of ingesting or smoking marijuana while operating a vehicle or just before hitting the road? It turns out that with marijuana legalization, there are complicated questions about drugged driving and whether or not the tests can accurately capture whether you’re under the influence or not. Our traffic ticket lawyers in California are here to help you if you’ve been accused of a violation on the road, so read on further to understand your responsibilities and rights.

DUI/Drugged Driving in California

If you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs in CA, you could face charges if caught. It is illegal to drive under the influence of a drug. The state has to prove that the drug altered the driver’s abilities.

Do Medical Marijuana Users Qualifying for an Exception?

There are no exemptions in this section for a legal medical marijuana user. In general, the drugged driving law in California is based on the concept that an individual who is experiencing withdrawal side effects are living in an altered consciousness state rendering a person unsafe to drive.

California courts established rules evaluate whether an individual is addicted. This means that the person must have built up a tolerance to the effects of the drug and therefore requires more potent and larger doses and that he or she has become dependent physically that they would suffer from withdrawal problems if they chose to stop and that the defendant has become dependent on the drug. If you are pulled over and are issued a ticket it will most likely be a dirving under the influence, and you will need a California DUI lawyer to fight your ticket.

Consequences for Drugged Driving in California

There are penalties associated with drugged driving in the state of California. The first offense can carry a period of between 96 hours and up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $390 up to $1000. The offender has to finish a DUI program and can expect a license suspension of 6 months.

For a second offense, the jail time increases from 90 days to up to one year in jail, license suspension for 2 years, a fine of up to $1000 and completing a DUI program.
For a third offense within a 10-year period, the penalty includes a period of up to one year in jail, fine of up to $1000, the requirement of an ignition interlock device, license suspension for three years and a mandatory DUI program completion. For a fourth subsequent offense within that 10-year period, the offender can be in prison for up to one year and have their license suspended for four years. In addition, an ignition interlock device is also required.

What Happens if a Person Under the Influence Caused an Accident?

Additional penalties may be associated with the repercussions of an accident caused by a person under the influence of drugs. If the driver causes an accident with bodily injury to another person while under the influence, the penalty can be enhanced.

Implied Consent Laws in CA and What They Mean for You

It is also important to understand the implied consent laws in California and how this can influence you rights. Any individual who is driving a car or other vehicle on California roads will have given consent to the chemical blood or urine testing for the purposes of evaluating the drug content in that individual’s blood. Refusing to complete a chemical test can lead to mandatory prison time if the individual is convicted of DUI and up to one year of a suspended license. Our traffic ticket lawyers have helped many individuals who did not realize the immediate consequences of declining a test.

If the driver can’t choose between a urine and a blood test, although the any driver does not maintain a right to a lawyer there before determining whether or not they will submit to these tests or which test to take. Even though California has passed Proposition 64 which legalizes recreational marijuana use in California, this means that law enforcement may even be more likely to enforce California’s marijuana DUI laws. The DUI penalties in California for marijuana are the same as those for alcohol. Losing your license, having to pay fines and spending time in jail are just several serious repercussions associated with being convicted of DUI. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as soon as you’re pulled over for suspected DUI is important.

Do not hesitate to reach out to a California traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible if you have been accused of any traffic offense or related crime in the state of California. Choosing to do so quickly could help to protect the integrity of your claim and allow you to develop a comprehensive defense. Call 1-800-CITATION for a free consultation.