As of 2018, it is not illegal in California to use recreational marijuana. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana under vehicle code 23152(e). But how will officers determine if you are driving under the influence of marijuana? Marijuana creates many issues for law enforcement as unlike alcohol, there are no current methods for determining if you have THC in your blood without a blood or urine sample which are not available until after you have been arrested. Alcohol can readily be tested in the field using a preliminary alcohol screening test that detects ethyl alcohol in your lungs. This test cannot be used to test for THC in your blood and currently there is no amount of THC in your blood that creates a presumption of impairment.
How does California treat marijuana?
In California, marijuana is treated in the same manner as alcohol as far as the law. The two are very different however. Alcohol dissipates in your blood rather quickly thanks to your liver. THC from marijuana does not and cannot remain traceable in your blood for a few days or weeks depending on the amount of use. Of course, the affects generally only last a few hours. So that joint you smoked yesterday will show up on a blood draw today even though you are not impaired in anyway. So if officers cannot test for the quantity of marijuana in your system and even if they can that does not prove you are under the influence, how will they arrest you for driving under the influence of marijuana?
How do officers deal with suspected marijuana impaired drivers?
Since the legalization of marijuana, police departments have increased the amount of officers that are trained to become official drug recognition experts. These officers are specifically trained to recognize the objective symptoms of impairment caused by marijuana and other drugs. These officers are trained specifically to catch you driving under the influence of drugs and will employ field sobriety tests specifically meant to test for impairment caused by drugs. Depending on the officer's observations of you and your answers to the officer's questions, he may have sufficient evidence to place you under arrest for driving under the influence of drugs. Once under arrest, the office will be able to perform a chemical test at the local detention center that is capable of detecting THC in your bloodstream.
This is not the end of your case, but only the beginning. An experienced can challenge various aspects of your case from the reason of the initial encounter, whether there was probable cause to make an arrest, and whether chemical test was performed correctly. DUIs involving drugs are fight-able. Call the Law Offices of Steven McNicholl at (951) 405-0990 if you have been arrested for DUI involving drugs.
For more information on DUIs involving drugs visit our web page here.