California legalized marijuana for medical use back in 1996. On January 1, 2018, recreational marijuana use became legal in the state. Despite the fact that cannabis is now legal in the state, it still remains illegal to drive while under the influence of the drug. Driving under the influence of any drug, prescribed or otherwise legal, can result in a DUI. The penalties are the same as a regular alcohol-related DUI in many cases. Unlike with alcohol, where many people can tell they’re too drunk to drive, many times, those who smoke marijuana are unaware of how it has affected them and some believe they won’t be caught, as CBS News reports.
According to a study released by AAA, one of the nation’s largest federation of auto clubs, 70% of Americans think it is unlikely that a driver under the influence of marijuana will be busted. The study also discovered that in the past 30 days, 15 million drivers have gotten behind the wheel within an hour after smoking marijuana.
The AAA also warned that marijuana today is nearly 10 times stronger than what was being smoked in the 70s. AAA also points out that unlike alcohol, there is no breathalyzer test for marijuana. Only a blood test can accurately measure THC impairment.
Making matters worse, there is also the fact that there are only some 8,300 officers who have been trained to spot the signs of marijuana intoxication. This equates to less than 1% of all officers nationally.
Meanwhile, AAA points to research that shows in states where marijuana is fully legalized, fatal car accidents have doubled where drivers have tested positive for THC.