Even though California has legalized the medical use of marijuana for decades and more recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, it is still unlawful to drive while under the influence. There is no exception made to this even for those who are prescribed or recommended the use of marijuana by a doctor. However, a prosecutor must show that not only was the person under the influence of marijuana but that they were actually impaired. Simply testing positive for THC does not necessarily mean that a person was impaired.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on a man who received six years for his role in a fatal marijuana-DUI crash.
On December 3rd, 2016, 27-year-old Richard Gideon Hammond smoked marijuana and then got in his car to drive to a local pharmacy on an errand. Somehow, he ended up driving nearly to the California-Mexico border.
Hammond made a U-turn and began driving, the wrong way, heading northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.
He went just three miles before he crashed into 27-year-old Daniel Ivan Reyes head-on, who was riding his motorcycle. Reyes had gone out that day to pick up the video of Finding Dory for his son. He was killed instantly.
Later, at a hospital, Hammond tested positive for a “higher than normal” amount of marijuana and that driving the wrong way was “consistent with marijuana use.”
However, Hammond was never given a field sobriety test.
In February, a jury convicted Hammond of one count of gross vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
On Wednesday, a Chula Vista Superior Court Judge imposed the maximum sentence of 6 years in prison on Hammond. When the sentence was read, Hammond’s fiancée, who is pregnant, began sobbing.