Can I Get a DUI for Medical Marijuana?

person driving car

Your Health Needs Are Not Above the Law

As of May 28th 2020, the Marijuana Policy Project reported 1,920,294 medical marijuana patients in California. Needless to say, it’s a common remedy for health problems. Although medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, recreational use for adults 21 and over became legal in 2016. Since then, many California residents welcomed the progressive law with open arms, but failed to consider whether they’re allowed to smoke and drive.

To be clear, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol includes marijuana. As such, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of pot regardless of whether you have a medical marijuana card or not.

Penalties for Using Medical Marijuana & Driving

California law doesn’t consider whether marijuana use was for medical purposes in a DUI charge. “A drug is a drug” in the eyes of the law and will be penalized as such. For context, you can even get a DUI while using prescription drugs. Thus, even if a doctor allows you to use a certain drug, getting behind the wheel after using it could get you in trouble.

If convicted of driving under the influence of medical marijuana, you may be punished as such:

  • First-time offense: Misdemeanor first-time offenses can be penalized by about $2,000 in fines, 48 hours of jail time, required classes, license suspension of up to 6 months, and 3 to 5 years of probation.
  • Second offense: These are also misdemeanors that can be penalized by up to 96 hours of jail time and 2 years of license suspension.
  • Subsequent offense: Third DUI offenses are misdemeanor crimes that can be penalized by up to 3 years of license suspension and 120 days in jail. Fourth and subsequent offenses can be charged as a felony.
  • DUI with injury: Depending on the severity of the offense, this crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Felonies carry 16 months to 3 years in prison, and 3 to 6 additional years of the victim was severely injured.
  • Vehicular manslaughter: This felony offense is penalized by up to 10 years in prison.

Problems with Drug Testing

Determining whether someone is under the Influence of alcohol is much easier than determining if someone is high on marijuana. This is because marijuana stays in your system for up to 30 days, unlike alcohol, which can wear off after a few hours. Essentially, you may have THC in your system as a result of using it days or weeks prior to your traffic stop. As such, law enforcement cannot accurately determine the level of THC in your system at the time you are pulled over.

This issue can be tackled by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) who conducts roadside examinations on drivers accused of driving under the influence of pot. The entire assessment consists of 12 steps, which include urine and blood tests, expanded field sobriety tests and other physiological measures.

How to Best Overcome Your Penalties

Since marijuana affects everyone differently, even under the same doses and strains, it is likely that the DRE results can give officers a false impression that you were under the influence at the time of your arrest. You shouldn’t suffer the anxiety of legally using THC and potentially getting a DUI days or weeks later because it stayed in your system.

Luckily, you’re not alone. Our defense attorney obtains 20+ years of experience, including being a former prosecutor. This means that when you turn to The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch to defend your DUI charge, we can leverage our knowledge of both sides of the courtroom to better prevent a conviction. The best decision you can make for your freedom is hiring our lawyer to represent you.

Call (559) 484-2112 to arrange a free consultation!

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