With the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, residents of California can use marijuana for recreational purposes in addition to using it for medical treatments. The new law allows for the recreational use of marijuana in some private and public spaces, but not all.
When it comes to smoking in a parked car, the answer is complicated. The legality of smoking in your parked car is governed largely by where your car is parked at the time.
However, there is one additional complication to smoking in your car: you can be arrested for a DUI, even if you weren’t driving. If you have been charged with a DUI for smoking in your parked car, you can fight and potentially beat the charges. Call (310) 862-0199 today to speak with a DUI lawyer for free about your case.
Where It Is Legal to Smoke in a Parked Car
Under California’s Health and Safety Code Section (HSC) 11362.2, you are restricted from smoking marijuana in a limited number of private and public spaces. You may not smoke marijuana if:
- You are within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, or youth center if there are children present
- You are in a public place that has not issued an exception for an event or other reason
- You are in a location where tobacco products have been banned
The law does allow some exceptions here. For example, you can smoke within 1,000 feet of a school while children are present if you are on the grounds of a private residence and no one can detect your smoking. So long as you’re within these limits, you shouldn’t be charged with a violation of HSC 11362.
Smoking in a Parked Car May Still Cause Legal Trouble
While you can smoke or consume marijuana recreationally, California law does not allow you to drive if you have smoked or consumed it recently enough to be impaired. If you drive while impaired after smoking or consuming marijuana, you can be charged with a DUI as if you had been driving with alcohol in your system.
Since impairment from marijuana can’t be detected as readily as impairment from alcohol with a breathalyzer, officers are on the lookout for other signs an individual has been driving while impaired by marijuana. One sign an officer may look for is an individual smoking in a car, even if it is parked. An officer may approach your parked car to see if you’ve been smoking and driving.
The police do not need to see you driving to arrest you for a DUI. Simply being in a car that is on or has been on recently while smoking may be grounds for an officer to arrest you. In addition to the DUI charge, you can also be charged with transporting an open container for having marijuana available to smoke in your vehicle.
You Can Fight Back Against Charges for Smoking in a Parked Car
If you want to smoke in your parked car, you can take several steps to reduce the likelihood of facing criminal penalties, including a possible conviction for a DUI. You can:
- Verify that you have permission to smoke in the private location where the vehicle is parked.
- Avoid smoking in a car that has been driven recently.
- Don’t smoke in the driver’s seat
If an officer approaches your vehicle while you are smoking, remain calm and polite. You do not have to consent to perform a field sobriety test and you are not required to agree to a chemical test prior to being arrested. You are entitled to have an attorney present for any questioning beyond answer some basic questions, including identifying yourself and the owner of the vehicle.
While the penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe, a skilled DUI lawyer can help you. The prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that you were driving while impaired. Any evidence you can provide to help suggest you weren’t driving can be useful for having the charges dismissed.
If you’ve charged with a DUI or transporting an open container of marijuana, you can reach out to us at (310) 862-0199. Our representatives are there to connect you with a leading DUI attorney who can help you understand your legal options. The initial consultation is completely free of charge, so reach out today!