Can I get a DUI in Los Angeles for Being Under the Influence of Marijuana?

  • September 1, 2017

    In Los Angeles, most of the cases where a person is charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is related to alcohol. However, it is possible for an individual to be arrested when he or she is caught driving under the influence of a drug or a controlled substance such as marijuana.

    The prosecution for DUI in the state of California is under the Vehicle Code Section 23512. In this code section, only the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood is defined but not with the limits of other substances. However, this section criminalizes any kind of driving under the influence, which includes being under the influence of marijuana.

    California is one of the states that accepted marijuana use as mostly legal. However, this does not mean that driving while under the influence of the drug is, too. Drivers found to have used marijuana are charged with DUI. They are treated the same way as those who have committed alcohol DUI, and the penalties for both are severe. If you have been arrested because of marijuana DUI, you will need a good defense lawyer to help you with your case.

    Marijuana Effects on Driving

    It is still not established as to how marijuana affects a person while driving. In fact, there is a debate as to whether or not it really affects the driver. However, it is agreed that marijuana can have varying effects on different persons. Two people could use the same amount of the drug, and they would have varied feelings afterward. One of them could be high for a longer time than the other.

    Because of the differences, many marijuana users believe that they are not influenced by the drug when they are on the road. Some people also think that they can smoke a small amount and they can still drive safely. However, the California law disagrees with them.

    The state’s bases on DUI laws are on medical evidence. Research is mixed when it comes to marijuana. In some studies, marijuana does have an effect on the driving ability of a person. These studies claim that the drivers have twice the risk of getting involved in an accident when they have ingested or smoked the drug.

    Although the risk is high, it is actually much lower when compared to alcohol, which has up to 20 times the risk of an accident compared to someone who is sober. It is also noteworthy that those who are stoned often drive slower. Drunk drivers, on the other hand, are fast and aggressive drivers, which is why their risk of an accident is much higher.

    How Prosecution Proves a Person is Impaired by the Drug

    In alcohol DUI, the tests are quite easy to perform, which is why most drivers are arrested and penalized right away. However, there is usually no easy test for those who are under the influence of marijuana. Often, the officer will ask for the driver’s urine or blood sample after the arrest. Note that the driver cannot say no to these demands; otherwise, he or she will be penalized.

    Both the urine and blood tests can simply confirm whether the person had used marijuana or not. The tests also tell how much of marijuana’s active ingredient is in the system of the driver.

    However, there is no specific number as to how much of the active ingredient is too much. As mentioned, the effects of the drug can be different from one person to another. Additionally, people who use the drug on a regular basis can have high levels of the active ingredient when they are sober. It is because traces of marijuana can remain in the system.

    Therefore, prosecutors cannot use blood or urine test to prove a person is impaired by the substance. In this case, they draw other evidence which may include the behavior of the person while driving, the period in which marijuana was used (whether or not it was consumed while the person is driving), and the statements given by the defendant.

    The prosecutors may also take a look at the appearance and the behavior of the driver. Field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg and counting correctly, may also be used to prove a person was indeed under the influence of marijuana while on the road.

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