Marijuana DUI is a common occurance in California, especially after the California legislature changed the vehicle code in 2014. The changes to the vheicle code amended CVC 23152, which added new charges that prosecutors can use to prosecute marijuana DUI cases. Depending on what happend, a person involved with a marijana DUI case can face a number of criminal charges, including misdemeanor and felony charges, that potentially carry lengthy prison terms, onerous probation and expensive alcohol/drug education classes.
Marijuana DUI: CVC 23152(e) and CVC 23152(f)
The vehicle code in California is “the law” when it comes to cars, trucks, motorcycles and everything related to California’s public roads. Due to an increase in drug related DUI’s (including marijuana DUI), the legislature added several new laws to the vehicle code. CVC 23152(e) makes it a crime to operate a motor vheicle while under the influence of a drug. CVC 23152(f) makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. (CVC 23152 (f) was added to the vehicle code because a very large percentage of marijuana DUI cases involve a driver that is not only under the infulence of drugs, but also alcohol at the same time.)
Issues defending Marijauan DUI cases from a defense attorney’s perspective:
When buidling a defense for a marijuana DUI case, a DUI attorney will look at the common, most succesful DUI defense strategies that can be used to beat drug DUI cases.
Marijuana DUI cases do not involve a Breathalyzer:
Unlike alcohol DUI cases, marijuana DUI cases will not involve a breathalyzer result that can be used against the defendant in court. Why? Marijuana cannot be detected by breathalyzer machines, which use electrical impulses to anaylyze a sample of a person’s breath to detect the presence of alcohol (which reacts to electricity in a very defined, predicable way.)
Marijuana DUI cases are treated differently by DMV:
The good news for someone facing a marijuana DUI case is this: The DMV does not suspend a person’s licnese at an “APS” hearing if they are accused of driving under the influence of marijuana. The APS process was established to combat alcohol related DUI cases, and is not set up to handle marijuana DUI cases. Consequently, the DMV will not issue an APS suspension order for marijuana DUI cases. The DMV can still, however, take action against the driver, if the driver is convicted of DUI in court due to a Marijuana DUI. This action is different from the APS hearing process that alcohol related DUI drivers face. Speak with a DUI attorney who understands what it takes to avoid the DMV action that can result from a court conviction for marijuana DUI.
DUIs used to only involve alcohol, and had a history going back to the 1930’s. Law enforcement and the courts have had a long time to “perfect” alcohol related DUI procedures. The history of drug DUI, including marijuana DUI, is not as well developed. The legislature in California did not enact specific, drug related DUI vehicle code sections until 2014. Even after changing the vehicle code to include a specificic, directed drug DUI section, the scientific and legal procedures in drug DUI Cases lags behind alcohol DUI and it more well developed body of law.