It’s well established that driving while intoxicated from drinking alcohol can have a hugely negative impact on your legal standing, finances, and most importantly the safety for yourself and those around you. With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in California and other states, some people may be wondering if the same liabilities hold true for smoking and driving.
California became the first state to allow for the medical use of marijuana in 1996, and in 2018 recreational use of the substance became legal. While California worked quickly to ensure that statutes, regulations, and ordinances regarding the sale and use of cannabis were established, many residents still have questions about what is legal. In this article we will discuss the legal implications of driving under the influence – of marijuana.
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What You Should Know about Smoking and Driving
Plainly stated, it is illegal to smoke marijuana while driving a motor vehicle on public roadways. Doing so will subject you to penalties that include incarceration, fines, and/or loss of driving privileges. Senate Bill 65 was passed when it became legal for adults to recreationally use the cannabis plant. This bill amends Section 23220 of the Vehicle Code to include marijuana alongside alcohol.
How can law enforcement know that someone has been smoking while on the road?
- Observation of reckless driving such as weaving in and out of a lane or traveling at an unusually fast or slow speed.
- The smell or presence of the substance or paraphernalia.
- An accident has occurred and there is reason to believe the accident was due to impaired driving.
As with alcohol, one does not need to be consuming the substance at the same time of driving. Rather, if either alcohol or marijuana is consumed prior to driving but in an amount or timeframe that still impairs the users ability to drive – this can result in unwanted consequences.
Potential Penalties of a Marijuana DUI
Individuals convicted of a marijuana DUI are typically charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the driver caused injury, a fatal accident, or there are other extenuating circumstances such as multiple DUI convictions within a 10 year period, the driver may face a felony DUI charge.
A misdemeanor DUI charge involving marijuana can result in:
- A maximum of six months in county jail
- Driver’s license suspension up to six months
- Up to five years of unsupervised probation
Felony DUI charges involving marijuana use are comparable to felony DUI penalties where alcohol was involved.
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If you or your loved one has been arrested for a DUI, DWI, or other alleged criminal offense call Frank Calabretta’s Bail House and a compassionate bail bond agent will work to help you post bail at any time – day or night. We are the oldest bail bonds house in Placer County with a highly regarded reputation among those we serve.