Most drivers know that California law makes it illegal to drive under the influence of any controlled substance, including marijuana. However, if you live in one of the states that have made it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes, you might think that as long as you carefully follow the medical marijuana rules, you will be permitted to drive at the same time.
This is not the case – none of the states, including California, that have medical marijuana licenses permit patients to operate a vehicle while under the influence of the drug. The reason for this is that an impaired driver is an unsafe driver, regardless of what impaired their ability to get behind the wheel (recreational use or medical treatment).
As such, in order to avoid a DUI charge, as a medical marijuana card holder you should be aware of the rules and follow them when you consider driving after using marijuana even for medical purposes. Penalties for a DUI conviction can include fines, jail or prison time, and the suspension of your driver’s license.
California Law on Legal Marijuana and DUI
The legal status of marijuana is irrelevant to DUI law. There are many things that may be legal in general, but illegal under other circumstances. For example, although it may be legal to own a gun, it is illegal to shoot someone. It is legal to drive, but not to speed. And, it is legal to consume alcohol, but not legal to drink and drive.
California’s drunk driving laws makes it illegal to drive under the influence of any controlled substance that affects the muscles, brain or nervous system. Since marijuana clearly affects the brain, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the law while under the influence of marijuana.
Conviction of a DUI for Medical Marijuana Card Holders
In order to be convicted of a DUI, the prosecutor must prove that you were “under the influence” of marijuana (alcohol or any other controlled substance). Basically, there are two ways a prosecutor can prove that you were under the influence:
- Show that you had a certain concentration of THS (the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in your system; OR
- Establish that you were actually impaired by marijuana.
Call an Experienced Central Valley DUI Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI, it is in your best interest to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you learn your legal rights and options.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley drunk driving defense attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.