Earlier this month, people who use recently legalized recreational marijuana celebrated 4-20, the unofficial holiday of marijuana users. On April 20 and 21, police officers stepped up patrols to send a clear message to recreational marijuana users that driving high is illegal. Sobriety checkpoints were set up on many roads throughout the state, and many arrests were made.
Recreational marijuana users vary in their opinions about whether driving high is a form of driving impaired. Some people feel as though marijuana does affect their ability to drive and they choose not to drive after they have been using it. However, about ten percent of marijuana users feel as though they drive better after they have been using marijuana. To make matters even more complicated, people who use recreational marijuana often use it in conjunction with alcohol, so some drivers are likely to have both substances in their systems when they get pulled over. California law prohibits both driving drunk and driving high, so your opinion of whether marijuana use makes you a better or a worse driver matters less than whether you get in the driver’s seat after you’ve been using marijuana, with or without alcohol. If you have been using marijuana and you get pulled over, you could get arrested for marijuana DUI.
Legal marijuana use is relatively new in California, and law enforcement officials are without a precise method for determining marijuana-related driver impairment. It’s possible that an oral fluid test will soon be available to detect marijuana, but it is unclear when that testing method, which is being developed in Colorado, will come into use. As of right now, there’s no blood or breath test for marijuana like there is for alcohol. Instead, officers must rely more on their observations and field sobriety testing methods like walking a straight line. The recent 4-20 sobriety checkpoints are an indication that they are not letting those things stop them from finding and citing drivers who they determine are likely to be under the influence of marijuana.
Fortunately, Orange County DUI defense attorneys are prepared to handle marijuana DUI cases, which they can defend in many of the same ways that they have been successfully defending alcohol-related DUI defendants for years. From questioning whether police used proper procedures to stop, investigate, and arrest a defendant, to questioning the validity of evidence that the state seeks to present in support of its case, your attorney can help you present a defense on your behalf that could get your marijuana-related DUI charges reduced or eliminated.
If you get charged with DUI because an officer suspects that you’re impaired by marijuana, your rights are at stake. Protect your rights, your freedom, and the things that are most important to you by seeking the aid of an Orange County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Your attorney can help you pursue the best possible result in your California DUI case.