Driving Under The InfluenceFeatured — By George Alberts on July 6, 2012 at 11:00 am
If there is no legal limit for THC, how are people still being prosecuted for California DUI marijuana?
I hope most would agree that when under the influence of marijuana, we sometimes find ourselves in situations that require our good judgment and attention. But has marijuana ever clouded or impaired your ability to make a conscious decision? Maybe itâ€™s not the best idea to get behind the wheel after smoking or ingesting marijuana, but how can an officer or prosecutor prove that you were â€œhighâ€ while driving?
If you use cannabis, then you know the effects are nowhere near those of alcohol. You canâ€™t even place them in the same category. Whether you agree or disagree, there isnâ€™t enough evidence to support the theory that marijuana impairs a personâ€™s ability to drive, nor is there any law or limit to determine the level of THC that a person can have in their system. When someone says marijuana impairs a personâ€™s ability to think or make a conscious decision, it stems from their ignorance and lack of use.
When it comes to the state of California, vehicle code 23152(a) VC prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. However, with regard to this measure, it has always been easier for an officer and the prosecution to prove that someone has been driving under the influence of alcohol than drugs. As a matter of fact, proving that someone is driving under the influence of drugs is more difficult, especially with regard to marijuana. For instance, how can an officer legally measure the amount of THC in your system and say that youâ€™re impaired when there isnâ€™t a law or limit in place with â€œdose levelsâ€ specifically for marijuana. The life span of THC ranges from hours to months, depending on a variety of issues, including: the amount of marijuana you consumed, the concentration of the THC, and your personal tolerance to marijuana. All these factors make it difficult to prove that you were under the influence of marijuana at the time you were driving.
To be convicted of a California Marijuana DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, you must be impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.
In order to prove that you were DUI marijuana in California, a prosecutor will rely on your driving pattern, your physical appearance, your performance on the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), and a chemical test revealing marijuana in your bloodstream.
The punishment for DUI in California varies on the facts of your case and your criminal history with particular emphasis on drug and/or alcohol offenses. For a first-time California DUI marijuana conviction, you may be subject to three to five years of informal probation, up to one year in a county jail, a maximum $1,000 fine (before penalty assessments are added), a court-approved DUI school, and a six-month court-ordered California driverâ€™s license suspension.
Fortunately, there are a variety of defenses that could work in a personâ€™s favor. For instance, there is NO TEST to determine when you used marijuana. When you smoke, the effects from the THC only last a few hours. However, the THC can stay in your system for days, weeks, and even months. Basically, ITâ€™S IMPOSSIBLE TO DETECT WHEN YOU LAST USED MARIJUANA. Current tests can only detect THAT marijuana was used, not WHEN it was used, or whether it was still producing an intoxicating effect when you were pulled over. All that matters is whether you were under the influence of marijuana at the time you drove, which is very difficult to prove.
Shouselaw.com states, â€œThe majority of studies that address marijuanaâ€™s insignificant effect on â€˜driving abilityâ€™ refer to â€˜preferred dose levelsâ€™. A preferred dose level is the amount it takes for the average recreational marijuana user to achieve his/her desired psychochemical effects or â€˜highâ€™. Preferred dose levels are similar to low doses of alcohol, equaling about a 0.04% blood alcohol content (BAC) for alcohol impairment.
With that being said, chemical blood or urine tests donâ€™t typically test for quantity, but rather presence. As a result, these drug tests are often meaningless. This is because the California DUI Marijuana law has no â€˜per seâ€™ violation like the 0.08% standard used to prosecute an alcohol-related DUI under California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC.
A blood or urine test that reveals marijuanaâ€™s presence (at any level) is actually irrelevant to the heart of the chargeâ€¦that is, whether you were driving under its influence.â€
Despite what some people might believe, studies show that marijuana has no significant impact on a personâ€™s ability to drive. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is rarely linked to accidents. While alcohol is known to promote more risk-taking, marijuana is known to promote better, conservative driving. When someone is under the influence of marijuana, they are more likely to be aware of their impairment and compensate for it by driving more carefully, something thatâ€™s pretty hard to do when youâ€™re drunk. But how much marijuana is too much marijuana for anyone? Iâ€™m not saying high doses wonâ€™t render a person useless, but where are the statistics, restrictions, and evidence to support that information if thatâ€™s the case?