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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.

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New DUI Diversion Law Causes Controversy

Posted on in DUI

california defense lawyerA new law that allows judges to grant diversion to those convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) has been causing confusion in the California court system, according to The Press-Enterprise. Critics of the measure say judges are applying it inconsistently, often granting diversion to defendants with means while poorer defendants are punished with criminal penalties. 

Assembly Bill 3234

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 3234 as part of a criminal justice reform package designed to, among other things, give judges the discretion to place first-time DUI offenders into a diversion program instead of jail. 

Ting said the measure was modeled off of a program that proved successful in Los Angeles County. Since judges could grant diversion, he explained the county court system had 2,000 fewer jury trials, which saved some $12,000 per day. Also, according to Ting, those who completed a diversion program were less likely to re-offend. 

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california dui lawyerAhead of Labor Day weekend, a multinational alcohol company launched a virtual campaign to warn Californians who plan on partying over the weekend about the dangers of drinking and driving. Diageo North American partnered with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research to launch the “Wrong Side of the Road.” 

Wrong Side of the Road

The educational project includes a website that hosts a series of videos in which people who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) share their experiences. Many of the individuals describe the social stigma they feel as a result of their DUI conviction.

Diageo, which owns Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Guinness, and dozens of other beverage brands, explained they wanted to show how catastrophic it could be not just for you, but the people in your life if you decide to drink and drive. 

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san Francisco dui lawyerMost people are honest, especially when they talk to a police officer, but that police officer might not be as forthright about his or her intentions. When a police officer suspects that a driver is driving under the influence (DUI), he or she may ask questions to find evidence or clues of drunk driving. DUIs and traffic infractions result in more injuries and death than any violent crime, but also DUIs are incredibly hard to prove. 

When a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, they will ask you what seems like common, getting-to-know-you questions, but in reality, what they are doing is phishing for information. The police officer may be gathering details and building the foundation of a DUI case. 

While it seems logical to stay silent during this exchange, the honest person might feel like they are trying to hide something. It begs the question: When should you answer questions and when should you stay quiet during a DUI stop?

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california defense lawyerIn a DUI case, the reason why a police officer pulls you over plays an important role. Identifying a traffic violation gives the officer probable cause to stop you in the first place. The officer can gather further evidence of drunk driving. How do police officers determine that there is probable cause for a DUI stop?

The short answer is nobody knows you are driving drunk — not even police officers — just by the traffic violation. However, police are trained to look for specific behaviors to single out possible drunk drivers and follow them until they see a traffic violation to build a DUI case. 

A Vehicle in Motion

One of the first lessons in DUI training is called “Vehicle in Motion.” The lesson is used to train police officers how to identify driving behaviors that could lead to DUI stop, and how to observe and document the behaviors for a DUI case. The training is provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency managed by the federal Department of Transportation. 

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