Police Find It Difficult To Prove Cannabis DUIs

A marijuana DUI in California is treated almost exactly the same as an alcohol-related DUI. Basic penalties for a marijuana DUI can include anywhere from 3 days to 6 months in jail, heavy fines, and a person’s license being suspended for at least four months. Also included in the penalties is 3 months of mandatory DUI classes. A second marijuana DUI can see a person facing even stiffer penalties such as up to a year in jail and the suspension of a license for a mandatory two years. There just might be only one thing going for the defendant in such cases: a marijuana DUI may be hard to prove. The LA Times reports.

California is ramping up efforts to warn drivers in the wake of marijuana legalization. California DUI attorneys have also sent out warnings to drivers that driving stoned can get them in trouble. Highway signs are warning about driving while high. Finally, a bill proposed in the California legislature will make anyone who is under 21 and caught driving while high face a one-year suspension of their license.

Unlike DUI-alcohol drivers, arresting and prosecuting DUI-marijuana drivers is not that cut and dry. There currently exists no test to determine when a person last smoked marijuana or is currently driving high. Drivers have been known to pass field sobriety tests while stoned.

Instead, California relies on the abilities of drug-recognition experts, who are police officers who have received two weeks of training to recognize the cognitive signs of drug-related impairment during a traffic stop. These tests consist of 12 steps, some of which are a field-sobriety test as well as the testing of blood pressure and a driver’s pulse.

However, until a legal threshold is established for marijuana, the decision of whether or not a person was, in fact, intoxicated will lie with a jury.

It is important to note that a study published last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proved little correlation between levels of THC and actual driving impairment.


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