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Understanding DUI Charges Related to Legal Marijuana in California

Posted on in DUI

DUI arrest, San Jose marijuana DUI attorney, DUI charges, legal marijuana, recreational marijuana As of the beginning of 2018, the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes is legal in the state of California. While many people are celebrating this change in the law and the freedoms it provides, they should be aware that marijuana is now treated much the same as alcohol, and driving while intoxicated by the drug can lead to a DUI arrest.

California’s Marijuana DUI Laws

California law states that it is unlawful to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol or marijuana in a vehicle while driving.

While DUIs related to alcohol and marijuana are treated in much the same way, there is one key difference: the law provides a specific legal limit for alcohol (.08% blood alcohol content), but not for marijuana. With no legal threshold for what constitutes impairment by marijuana, a DUI arrest will be made based on a police officer’s judgment of whether a driver is intoxicated.

Difficulty Determining Impairment

While established standards exist for determining whether a driver is intoxicated by alcohol, determining impairment by marijuana is more difficult. The level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical compound in marijuana, that remains in the body after use often varies from person to person, and the presence of THC does not necessarily indicate impairment.

While some police departments are beginning to use tools such as mouth swabs which test a driver’s saliva for the presence of THC, these tests cannot determine whether a driver is legally impaired—there is no legal limit for THC in California law. In order to determine whether a driver is intoxicated by marijuana, police officers will likely rely on field sobriety tests that are often subjective and prone to error.

Contact a San Jose DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated by marijuana, the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson can provide you with the defense you need to avoid a conviction. Since there is no legal limit for intoxication by marijuana, we can contest the validity of any blood, urine, or saliva tests. If your arrest was based on a field sobriety test, we can look at whether these tests were administered correctly or whether there were any other factors which influenced their results. For a strong defense that will protect you from the consequences of a DUI conviction, contact a San Jose, CA marijuana DUI attorney today at 408-246-3004 to schedule a free consultation.


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