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Can I Be Charged With DUI in California After Using Marijuana?

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Richmond County DUI Defense LawyerIn California, marijuana has been legal for both recreational and medical use since 2016. The state’s laws treat this drug similarly to alcohol, and people over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries for their own personal use. Because marijuana use can affect a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, people are restricted from “driving while high.” The state’s DUI laws apply to marijuana as well as alcohol, and drivers may face consequences if they are arrested for driving while they are intoxicated by marijuana or a combination of substances.

Legal Issues Affecting Marijuana DUI Cases

Marijuana can affect a driver in many ways, and a person may experience delayed reaction times, a lack of coordination, impairments to judgment, and difficulty perceiving factors such as time and speed. However, it is not always easy to determine a person’s level of intoxication. Unlike alcohol, which enters and leaves a person’s body quickly, the chemicals in marijuana can remain in a person’s system for a great deal of time. Since different people absorb and react to marijuana differently, it can be impossible to determine a specific amount of the drug that will cause a person to be intoxicated.

While there is a legal limit for blood alcohol content when a person is driving, California law does not recognize any limits for marijuana. There is no breathalyzer test that can be used to determine whether a driver is intoxicated due to marijuana in their system. While some law enforcement agencies in the state have been testing the use of saliva swabs in DUI traffic stops, these tests may detect the presence of marijuana in a person’s system without being able to determine whether a driver is impaired, and they are not legally-admissible evidence in a DUI case.

Without a way to chemically test whether a driver is impaired, the decision of whether to arrest a person for DUI is often left up to the discretion of a police officer. In many cases, officers will use field sobriety tests to gain a better understanding of whether a driver may be intoxicated. Standardized field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which involves asking a person to track a moving object with their eyes. Some officers may also use non-standardized tests such as asking a driver to recite the alphabet backwards or touch their finger to the tip of their nose. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and while a refusal may lead to an arrest, the refusal itself will not result in criminal consequences.

Contact Our Napa Marijuana DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI based on marijuana use, Burglin Law Offices, P.C. can help you determine your best options for defense. Since there is no legal limit for marijuana, and since chemical tests of your blood or urine may not provide conclusive evidence of intoxication, a prosecutor may not be able to prove that you violated California’s DUI laws. Attorney Paul Burglin can provide you with representation to help you avoid a conviction and any related consequences that may affect your ability to drive. Contact our Sonoma DUI defense lawyer at 415-729-7300 to set up a free consultation and get the defense you need.






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