November 11, 2016
VC 23152(e) DUI Marijuana:
The legal definition consists of the following "elements of the crime":
1. Driving a vehicle;
2. Under the influence of marijuana;
3. When the driver's mental or physical abilities are so impaired by marijuana that s/he is unable to operate the vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
To test for THC impairment authorities start with a field sobriety test. If you fail, that gives them probable cause to arrest you. For Marijuana, using blood or urine tests to determine whether a person is under the influence of THC at the time they were driving is a flawed system, as blood and urine tests are unable to determine whether Marijuana was consumed within the last few hours. There is also testing using drug swabs of saliva, but there can be traces of some drugs in your saliva up to three days after consuming them. This leaves plenty of room for doubt in a court room.
Unlike alcohol, there is no "per se" amount of marijuana in the bloodstream that can be used to establish impairment under VC 23152(e). Tests for marijuana reveal whether or not there is some marijuana in your system. At present, however, they cannot establish how much marijuana you consumed, or even how recently you consumed it. More importantly, there is no expert consensus as to how much marijuana is sufficient to impair one's ability to drive. HOWEVER studies in Europe and followed by Colorado have set the threshold at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood as the legal limit for impaired driving. Look for California to follow this example. Many feel this threshold is too low and that a daily marijuana consumer can have 5 nanograms in their system at any given time. To convict you of a marijuana DUI, chemical test results are just one piece of evidence the prosecutor can use to show you drove impaired. Erratic driving and bad performance on the field sobriety test can lead to a conviction of driving under the influence.
If there is any question, it is just a good idea to not drive while under the influence of ANY amount of marijuana.
November 9, 2016
The national movement to legalize marijuana was approved by California Voters yesterday with the passage of Proposition 64. With that being said, we are still a society of laws designed to protect our citizens. The primary law that I recommend you abide by is not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. People are now going to try to guess when they are impaired after smoking marijuana. It's simple, if you smoke marijuana just don't drive. Marijuana remains in your system for a period of time and the burn off rate is different for different body types. If a police officer believes you are impaired you will go to jail for a blood test.
It is better to be safe than sorry and just don't drive after smoking marijuana. A DUI conviction sits on your record for ten years, meaning any other charges in the ten year period will be charged as a second offense carrying mandatory jail time. The fine is over $1700, you will also have a four month license suspension, you will have to attend a first conviction program class that last four months (additional cost of approx. $450) and your insurance rates will go up. So even though Marijuana is now legal in California, don't be stupid!
The lawyers in our firm are ready to answer any questions you might have or if you need a lawyer for a DUI or other drug related offence, call my office 760-245-7781.
July 17th, 2015
Summer has arrived and school is out. There are many more children playing in our neighborhood streets giving rise to drivers to be more cautious. This means discipline for drivers to work on less driving distractions. There has been a lot in the news about distracted teen drivers, while a significant demographic, the problem does not rest with them alone. Distractions for drivers come in a wide variety of interferences. I am writing this article to alert clients but to also remind myself not to slip into a distraction while driving because it is so easy to do.
Of course the cell phone is the biggest lure into distraction in my car. My hands free system is set up but is not a full guarantee to prevent all distractions. I remind myself to use my Siri to look up numbers so I am not doing it. No texting is the most obvious warning with the phone. A quick view of a text is all that is needed to hit a little child playing on the side of the road. A full car of people can also serve as a distraction that you are not aware of. You as the driver can not be the center of attention while driving. Any deviation of the driver’s attention puts everyone at risk in the vehicle as well as other pedestrians and other drivers. Whether it be a cell phone, playing with the radio, eating or drinking while driving, interacting with passengers including babies, looking for an address playing with your navigation system, all potentially deadly. Our fancy dashboards provide an array of distractions if we let them.
We have all seen the tragic commercials where a teenager sends a sister or friend a text while that person was driving which resulted in the fatality. Take to heart the seconds of distraction that led to death. The deterrent is there, just each one of us must take it to heart - it can save a life. The problem is very apparent with teenagers but also affects all drivers. Initiate a family discussion with all the drivers in the house of such risks; include your non drivers so they too can learn before they get behind the wheel.
Let's all have a safe summer!