How to beat a Marijuana DUI case: Defense strategies that work.

Marijuana DUI cases are becoming more and more common as the use of medicinal marijuana in California continues to gain support and acceptance. DUI cases, including marijuana DUI, involve a person driving under the influence of a drug (or alcohol) that causes an unlawful danger on the road. Whether the driver is truly under the influence of a drug to a sufficient level to cause a dangerous condition is the difference between beating a DUI charge and losing. Not everyone who uses marijuana and drives a car is impaired to a level that it causes an unlawful danger on the road.

Marijuana Leaf

History of Marijuana DUI: how marijuana DUI cases differ from alcohol related DUI.

The history of alcohol related DUI cases is well developed: law enforcement has been dealing with alcohol related DUI since the 1920’s. Over the years, law enforcement has continually improved the methods of alcohol DUI enforcement, detection, science and forensics. This has lead to a well developed body of law on alcohol DUIs, and a regulatory structure that knows how to handle alcohol when it comes to DUI and impaired driving.

Marijuana DUI’s are a relatively recent development. Because of this, the body of law surrounding marijuana DUI’s is not as well developed. Law enforcement techniques in marijuana DUI recognition, detection and testing are not as well developed as alcohol DUI. In short, marijuana DUI’s are such a new development that the landscape for marijuana DUI’s is much different than alcohol DUI’s. These differences make defending marijuana DUI cases much easier for a skilled defense attorney who handles marijuana DUI’s.

Top strategies to beat a marijuana DUI: How to fight back against marijuana DUI charges.

1. There is no “legal limit” that establishes impairment.

For alcohol DUI cases, there is a “legal limit” that establishes that a person is, in fact, guilty of DUI because they are over the agreed upon limit of alcohol in their system. The history of alcohol DUI cases over the years led to the states, including Caliornia, to use 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, as the “limit.” Above this number, a person is presumed to be impaired enough to be a danger on the roads.

There is no “legal limit” for marijuana DUI cases because the body of science and forensics is not well developed enough for authorities to say with any certainty that a particular level of marijuana in a person’s system is a good level or limit to use.

There is simply no level that a prosecutor can argue proves impairment. Because of this, prosecutors in marijuana cases have a much more difficult time establishing impairment of a marijuana DUI driver and have to rely on other evidence, such as:
-Bad driving (swerving, weaving, speeding a very high rate or driving at a very slow speed that is inconsistent with conditions.)
-Accident (an accident is a tell-tale sign of impaired driving because the driver lost control of their car!)
-Drug recognition cues that law enforcement officers detect while investigating marijuana DUI cases.

2. Juries are often sympathetic to marijuana DUI drivers

Alcohol related DUI cases have had decades of bad press (and rightly so in many instances.) Most average people who are called for jury service have an animosity toward alcohol related DUI defendants because of all of the negative press that alcohol DUI cases have garnered. Marijuana DUI cases are different: there is less of a stigma associated with marijuana in California. Also, if the defendant in marijuana DUI cases is a user under the supervision of a doctor via a medicinal marijuana recommendation, the jury will often find some sympathy with the driver. A skilled marijuana DUI defense lawyer will work at building jury sympathy during a trial and prosecutors know this.

3. Marijuana effects people differently

Not everyone experiences the same effects from marijuana. While the same can be said for alcohol, marijuana has even move variables that need to be taken into account if a person is prosecuted for marijuana DUI. In short: a marijuana DUI case is not a slam dunk for prosecutors.

Marijuana DUI reference links:

California Highway Patrol’s Marijuana Drug Recognition program

International Drug Evaluation Program
NORML “Drugged Driving” California initiative