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Ignition Interlock Becoming Mandatory in 2019California will enact a statewide ignition interlock device program for all driving under the influence convictions starting at the beginning of 2019. The state has been running a pilot IID program since 2010 in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties. Courts in the rest of the state have issued IIDs as part of DUI sentencing on a case-by-case basis. The new law will make IIDs mandatory for most convictions. IIDs are costly and sometimes troublesome for users but may be preferable to having a restricted or suspended driver’s license.

What is an IID?

An ignition interlock device is an alcohol breath tester that is installed inside your vehicle. You are responsible for at least part of the cost of having the device installed and maintenance fees. With the device, you must provide an alcohol-free breath sample in order to start the vehicle and will be required to provide additional breath samples:

  • 10 to 15 minutes after you start driving; and
  • Every 45 minutes after that.

You will have about six minutes to provide a breath sample when you receive an alert while driving. The device will not shut down your vehicle if you fail a breath test while driving, but it will notify the court of the failed test. Failing a test, attempting to tamper with the device, or having someone take the test for you can result in the suspension of your driving privileges.

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Recreational Marijuana Brings California's Subjective DUI Laws to LightThe legalization of recreational marijuana in California has led to increased police attention towards driving under the influence of marijuana. DUI of marijuana has long been a crime, with the same penalties as DUI of alcohol. Police officers are looking for the same signs of driver impairment that accompany both DUI of alcohol and drugs. Even physical symptoms can be similar for alcohol and marijuana users, such as blood-shot eyes and slow reactions. However, California’s DUI laws have not caught up to legalized recreational marijuana. Police officers and prosecutors have less experience handling cases of DUI of marijuana than they do with DUI of alcohol. Yet, California law forces them to be more subjective in determining when to arrest and charge someone with DUI of marijuana. There are several problems with DUI of marijuana laws that affect all states where recreational marijuana use is legal:

  1. No Objective Definition of Being High: With DUI of alcohol charges, the results of blood alcohol concentration tests are legally accepted to help determine when someone is impaired by alcohol. California does not yet have an equivalent test to determine when someone is legally impaired by marijuana. Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana use THC levels as an indicator of impairment. However, states do not agree on what the THC limit should be. There is also continued debate on whether THC levels accurately reflect a driver’s impairment.
  2. More Difficult to Test for THC: There is not a breath test that can determine the level of THC in a driver’s system. Blood and urine tests are considered the only reliable ways to detect the presence and level of drugs in a person’s body. Police officers are not qualified to perform such tests in the field. The suspect will likely be transported to a police station or medical facility for the testing. Thus, the police officer will have come to the subjective conclusion that someone should be arrested for DUI of marijuana before the tests are administered.
  3. Misleading Test Results: Traces of drugs such as marijuana stay in a person’s body longer than alcohol. It can take weeks for all traces of THC to dissolve in a person. A blood or urine test may show levels of THC when a driver is no longer impaired by the substance.

Contesting DUI Charges

Arrests and charges for DUI of marijuana mostly rely on subjective observations of whether a driver seemed high. However, more objective laws could be problematic for drivers if they do not accurately measure whether a driver is impaired. With the uncertainty surrounding DUI of marijuana laws, you need an experienced attorney to represent you. A San Francisco DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can identify ways to contest your DUI charge. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.

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