Recently in Marijuana DUI Category

Marijuana DUI: Law To Impose "Per Se" Criminal Penalties Failed


mj.JPGAssembly Bill 2500 was introduced in February 2014, by Democratic Assembly Member Jim Frazier of Oakland. It was supported by the Association of Highway Patrolmen, the California Council on Alcohol Problems, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs' Association, among others. The bill was opposed by the ACLU, American for Safe Access, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California DUI Lawyers Association, California NORML, Crusaders for Patients Rights, Drug Policy Alliance, among others. The original text of the bill sought to impose a "zero tolerance policy" but the bill was amended to a "per se" standard.

Under the proposed law, drivers who have even a trace amount, ("2 nanograms, or more, per milliliter of whole blood"), of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in their blood regardless of whether the person was impaired, could be charged with drugged driving. (Note, this bill also addressed drugs other than THC, providing a level of detectable metabolite that has to be present for the driver to be impaired; however, we are only going to discuss marijuana in this blog).

There is a huge problem with this standard: There has not been any studies proving a correlation of a certain level of THC in the blood and impaired driving. There simply is no science to back up the 2 nanogram standard and impairment. The result of such a law would criminalize non-impaired drivers! This is unacceptable and the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety correctly rejected the amended legislation.

In California, under the current law, prosecutors attempt to use drug test results and other relevant evidence, such as driving pattern and field sobriety test results, to determine if a person was in fact under the influence while driving their vehicle.

Marijuana or THC DUI cases are extremely problematic for the prosecutor. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, contact the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman today for your free phone consultation. Know your rights and protect yourself.

California Drunk Driving Laws Revised


Before January 1st, 2014, California law enforcement agencies were using California Vehicle Code (VC) Sections 23152(a) and (b) to prosecute cases involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

VC 23152(a) stated, "It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle." VC 23152(b) read, "It is unlawful for any person who has a 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle."

As of January 1st, 2014, the State of California added two more driving under the influence code sections, 23152(e) and 23152(f), thus separating out the alcohol and drug cases.

VC 23152(a) has been updated to read, "It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle." Section 23152(b) has been changed to, "It is unlawful for a person who has a 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle."

The new VC 23152(e) provides, "It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle." And, under VC Section 23152(f), "It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle."

After the first quarter of the year, it is unclear how the court will handle the new version of this vehicle code section. Still, the 2014 California Jury Instructions uses only the (a) and (b) sections as they were used before, (see CALCRIM No. 2110 and 2111).

As for the administrative portion of a drunk driving matter, the DMV Driver Safety Office does not address drug impairment at the APS Hearing. The hearing only focuses on alcohol and BAC. However, you can speculate that with the push for more legislation on DUI's, such as the proposed AB 2500, drug DUI enforcement and penalties may become stricter in the future.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, you owe it to yourself to seek help from a criminal defense attorney who exclusively deals with DUI matters.

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Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana In San Diego


pot.jpgRecently, the Colorado Senate attempted to treat driving under the influence of marijuana like driving under the influence of alcohol with a .08% or greater blood alcohol content, as reported by 9news.com. The proposed marijuana blood-level limit that was voted on and failed was 5 nanograms of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Those sponsoring the marijuana, (otherwise known as pot, bud, weed, grass, Mary Jane, MJ, among others), DUI bill argued that THC levels are reliable and they are a scientific indicator that shows if someone used marijuana recently and if they are under the influence for purposes of driving.

Opponents of the bill stated the THC levels do not gauge impairment because even though the psychoactive ingredient is not active and the person is no longer feeling the effects of ingesting marijuana, the chemical remains in the body for an extended period of time. The blood test will show a THC level indicating the subject at some point used pot; however, it will not determine the amount that was ingested, when it was used, or the concentration of THC in the product that was consumed. In addition, each person's individual tolerance to marijuana is different and it is affected by usage.

In California, under Penal Code Section 23152(a), "It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of...[a] drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle." Therefore, a person can be charged with drunk driving if law enforcement suspects the person is under the influence of marijuana at the time that they are driving a vehicle.

As the law stands now, the THC level is only one of the factors that is considered to determine if a person is under the influence. These cases are fact specific, looking into the driving pattern, the driver's appearance, how he or she performed on the field sobriety tests, (or FST's), and the chemical test result which shows the THC level in the blood. Because there is no hard and fast rules about marijuana impairment, marijuana drunk driving cases are hard for the prosecutor to prove.

Because these cases are so hard to prove, they are great cases to take to trial. Often, especially if there are no other drugs or alcohol in your system, these cases get dropped or the charges are reduced because the prosecutor does not want to take the risk of a not guilty verdict after trial.

There are many strong defenses in marijuana DUI cases. If you have been charged with drunk driving involving marijuana, you owe it to yourself to find an exclusively DUI defense firm that can aggressively fight your case.

The above blog article on marijuana driving under the influence cases is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a drunk driving attorney in your area.

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La Jolla Accident: Marijuana DUI Blamed


weed.jpgA La Jolla Boulevard accident, that occurred in August 2010, is being blamed on marijuana intoxication, according to 10news.com. Ronald Troyer, 66, was allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana when the car he was driving jumped the curb, drove onto the sidewalk hitting three teenagers, then came to rest inside the Cass Street Cafe & Bakery, where two adults were also injured.

Troyer seemed confused at the scene and he later tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs causing great bodily injury, among other charges. He has two prior drunk driving charges on his record from 2005, and he faces approximately 12 years in prison if convicted for this incident.

Under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

The California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM), lay out what the prosecutor has to prove to the jury to get a conviction under this vehicle code section. The defendant must have driven a vehicle while under the influence of a drug.

Drunk driving cases based solely on drugs, not alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol, are often very hard for the prosecutor to prove. In fact, one of the hardest cases to prove impairment is a straight marijuana case because it is difficult to establish a relationship between the driver's THC blood concentration and the impaired effects.

Testing positive for THC is not enough to show impairment. It only confirms that the driver injested marijuana prior to the test. Blood concentrations will vary depending on the pattern of use and the amount injested.

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