Marijuana DUI in California

What are the rules in California for marijuana DUI?

Marijuana DUI CaliforniaWith the recent rise in legal Marijuana use in California and around the country, Marijuana DUI cases are becoming more frequent.  The standards for DUI cases involving alcohol are much different than those involving marijuana because of critical scientific differences between alcohol impairment and drug or marijuana impairment.  Video of marijuana impaired drivers can be seen: here.

The “Legal Limit” for DUI cases based on alcohol versus drugs.

For years, California (and every other state) have made it a criminal offense to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.   Known as the “per se” law, the very act of driving a car with a blood alcohol level above 0.08%, regardless of the effect on the driver, has been made illegal per se (latin meaning “in itself.”)  This means that a person can be convicted of a DUI even if they aren’t “under the influence” of alcohol, because their blood alcohol level is above a per-determined (arbitrary) level.

Is there a legal limit in California for THC or other marijuana chemicals?

As of the writing of this article, there is no “per se” level of marijuana chemicals (such as THC or cannaboids) in a person’s blood or body that is used in drug DUI cases.

What level of THC = DUI? Courts have said:

For an individual to be guilty of driving while under the influence of drugs, it is not enough that the drug could impair an individual’s driving ability or that the person is under the influence to some detectible degree.  People v. Torres (App. 4 Dist. 2009) 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 303, 173 Cal.App.4th 977.

For a defendant to be guilty of driving while under the influence of drugs, the drugs must have so far affected the nervous system, the brain, or muscles of the individual as to impair to an appreciable degree the ability to operate a vehicle in a manner like that of an ordinarily prudent and cautious person in full possession of his faculties.  People v. Canty (2004) 14 Cal.Rptr.3d 1, 32 Cal.4th 1266, 90 P.3d 1168.


Posted in Drug DUI, DUI Defenses.

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