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Can I get charged with DUI for Marijuana in California?

Marijuana use as medication and for recreation has been legalized in several parts of the United States, including California. Nonetheless, driving under the influence of alcohol or any other substance (legal, illegal, and controlled drugs) is a serious criminal offense. If you were driving while intoxicated by marijuana, it is very likely to get into trouble with the law. If a cop arrests you for DUI of Marijuana, you must use your Miranda Rights and ask DUI Defense Attorney in San Rafael, CA, to represent your case. DUI marijuana cases are somewhat different from standard drunk driving charges, even though penalties are similar following a conviction.

The Impact of Marijuana

Ever since legal restrictions regarding the possession and usage of marijuana have been relaxed, California has witnessed a surge in DUI cases related to marijuana. The effects of marijuana on the body are not entirely the same as of alcohol. The psychoactive compounds in marijuana are known to cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, improved mood, increased appetite, memory loss, and an altered sense of time. Surprisingly, there is no clear evidence of marijuana being the cause of impaired driving. Some studies even suggest that individuals high on smoking pot tend to drive more slowly and cautiously. Marijuana may have dissimilar effects on different users, depending on their biological system and internal chemistry.

DUI investigation of Marijuana

Any driver can be convicted of a DUI if their BAC (blood alcohol concentration) levels exceed 0.08%, but no similar ‘per se’ statutes exist for intoxication by drugs and marijuana in California. There is no breath test available to detect Marijuana in the driver’s blood stream. The THC compounds in marijuana do show up in a blood test, so high concentration in test results may support the allegations of the prosecution; yet, it is important to note that the test results old no value unless the prosecutor presents proof of impaired driving.

Positive blood, as well as urine test, is not very reliable for confirming that the driver was intoxicated by marijuana at the time of arrest. Many individuals use marijuana on a regular basis for medicinal purposes, which is why THC compounds may reside in their body long after the effects have worn off. Occasional users may retain THC compounds in their system for 12 hours or a few days; regular users may retain these compounds for up to 30 days. For this reason, detection of marijuana in a person’s blood stream does not alone prove that they were driving under the influence.

Typically, cops arrest drivers for DUI of marijuana under the following conditions:

1.       Bad driving or driving misconduct

2.       Suspicious demeanor/unusual behavior

3.       Slurred speech/doubtful statements

4.       Smell of marijuana on the driver

5.       Presence of marijuana in vehicle

6.       Poor performance on field sobriety tests

7.       Dilated pupils or red eyes

8.       Driver was smoking marijuana in the vehicle

The penalties for a first-time DUI marijuana conviction are the same as for a first-time drunk driving conviction:

·         Driver’s license suspension for up to 6 months

·         A few days to no more than a year in jail

  • ·         Fines ranging from $500 to $2000

·         A term of probation

·         Enrollment in DUI or substance abuse course

Aggravating factors like prior DUI convictions, driving with a minor, property damage, or harm to human life can lead to a more severe punishment. Your DUI defense attorney can help with getting the charges reduced to a wet reckless, dry reckless, or a mere traffic infraction. As a result, you may walk out with a clean criminal record, or at least avoid confinement.

Joseph Franks


John Adams is a lifestyle blogger who loves to travel and share his life experiences. He encourages readers to improve their quality of life by incorporating positive thoughts and actions. He is a health & fitness enthusiast, and contributes to vario

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