On January 1, 2018, the recreational use of cannabis became legal in California. Although it is legal for individuals at least 21 years of age to purchase and possess marijuana, it is still against the law to drive while under the influence of pot.
While the legal limit in California—and in most states—is .08 percent, scientists and law enforcement officials cannot determine a base blood level of THC to prove impairment. The NHTSA and American Automobile Association both state that there isn’t enough research that establishes a link between THC levels and a driver’s inability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Additionally, chemical tests for THC aren’t reliable enough to determine impairment. Since THC is stored in the body’s fatty tissues, THC can enter the bloodstream for up to one month or longer. In other words, a person who hasn’t recently smoked or consumed marijuana can still test positive for THC.
However, chemical test results are the only piece of evidence the prosecution uses to show impaired driving.
The following are other evidence that can be used to convict a person for pot-based DUI:
- Physical signs of intoxication, such as red eyes, rapid breathing and heart rate, “cotton mouth<’ delayed reactions, or the odor of cannabis coming from the suspect’s body.
- Drug paraphernalia inside the suspect’s vehicle
- The suspect’s driving pattern
- Any statements the suspect made to law enforcement
- The suspect’s field sobriety test results
A DUI involving marijuana carries the same penalties as a DUI involving alcohol. For example, a first-time conviction is punishable by a maximum six-month jail term, a fine of up to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
If you have been arrested for a DUI or drug crime in Bakersfield, contact Koenig Law Office today at (661) 338-5353 and schedule a free case review.