Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in California-The VC 231529 (e) Implications
The provisions of Vehicle Code 23152 (e) VC outlaw driving under the influence of marijuana anywhere in California, including Visalia. The offense is just as criminal as driving under the influence of alcohol as stipulated under Vehicle Code 23152 (a) VC. But being arrested for a Marijuana-related driving offense does not in itself wipe off an otherwise clean driving record if the victim has a good grasp of the legal implications of the charges, California DUI law, and possible legal defenses.
Of course, a driver under the influence of marijuana need not master the nitty-gritty of Vehicle Code 23152 (a) VC as they can always secure the services of an attorney to ensure the most favorable outcome. However, knowledge of what is expected of a driver from the time they're asked to step out of their car for an alleged DUI offense is critical, on the part of the driver.
The California DUI Marijuana Legal Definition
Legally, “under the influence” of a substance, such as marijuana, means that consumption of the substance impacted negatively on someone's capacity or ability to carry out a task with the caution, correctness, and care of a sober person. Thus, the legal definition of driving under the influence of marijuana implies that as a result of using marijuana, a driver's mental abilities were so impaired to the extent that they could not execute tasks associated with driving a vehicle in the cautious and careful manner a sober person would.
According to Vehicle Code 23152 VC, which criminalizes DUI marijuana, it is an offense to drive:
- While under alcohol's influence
- While under the influence of DUI drugs, which include marijuana
- While being influenced by the combined effects of marijuana and alcohol
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
California DUI marijuana penalties under Vehicle Code 23152 (a) VC are the same as legal punishments for drunk driving in the state. A first time DUI offense involving marijuana in California faces penalties such as:
- A driver is put under informal probation that may last between three (3) to five years (5).
- A driver faces jail time of between ninety-six (96) hours and six (6) months.
- A drive is slapped with between three hundred and ninety dollars ($390) and one thousand dollars ($1000) in fine.
- Authorities could also suspend a driver's license for up to six (6) months.
Elements of Driving Under Marijuana Influence Under California DUI
The prosecutor who's up against a driver in a California DUI marijuana case must demonstrate certain elements of the crime to prove guilt. They must prove that the accused:
- Drove a vehicle, and
- While driving, the accused was under the influence of marijuana or the combined effects of marijuana and alcohol.
It's important to note that a person cannot use their legal right to use marijuana as a defense against DUI marijuana charges. This means it's illegal to drive while under the influence of medical marijuana in California. Similarly, a Marijuana DUI attorney would not invoke as a defense against such charges, the fact that another factor in addition to marijuana contributed to impairment while driving.
A Driver's Defense to Marijuana DUI Charges in California
Considering the possible implications of a Marijuana DUI conviction such as jail-time, driving license suspension, and a criminal record, it's prudent to secure a California, Visalia lawyer to attain the best possible defense. A competent and experienced criminal attorney can have charges dropped, help work out a plea bargain or even secure a temporary driving license.
Defenses to Marijuana DUI charges are similar to those for DUI alcohol in California. As your attorney, we consider the following defense strategies:
- A driver may have smoked marijuana, but their driving wasn't impaired: this would mean that the driving was not affected by marijuana, despite having used it. The prosecution would have to prove otherwise to successfully prove guilt. This includes showing before a court that a driver's consumption of marijuana affected their mental capacity to drive safely.
- A driver was not under the influence at all: It's worth mentioning that scientific studies are yet to come up with a definitive measure that can indicate the amount of THC (a marijuana component) in a driver's blood that can cause impairment. Thus, a competent lawyer can exploit the anomaly and the fact that chemical tests for marijuana are shaky at best, in order to defend a driver accused of Marijuana DUI in California.
Thus, while it's criminal to drive under the influence of marijuana in California, a good Visalia attorney can minimize the severity of legal implications if a driver is charged with the offense.
While many might be unaware of alcohol effects on the human body and its absorption rate over time, most might be shocked to realize that depending upon their body's rate of absorption and other physical and/or clinical factors, it is highly plausible for an individual to have a blood alcohol content/concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, several hours since their having their last drink.
If you or someone you know has recently been charged and/or arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in or around Visalia, California, there are various circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest your attorney might choose to challenge depending upon your best interest. After investigating every aspect of your arrest, your California DUI attorney might choose to challenge probable cause, blood alcohol content (BAC) results, or perhaps even any of your rights that may have been violated during your arrest and detainment.
Many California DUI defendants forego trial and plead guilty to their charges as a result of their belief in the accuracy and validity of the California DUI breath test result.
Quite often, human error on the part of the medical professional can quickly render any DUI blood test BAC result inaccurate, unreliable, and inadmissible as evidence. Improper handling of the sample, collecting or storing the sample in an unsanitary or inadequately sanitized container, and perhaps even the allowing of foreign substances to enter into the testing area causing cross-contamination consistently creates issues with the reliability of DUI blood test all throughout California.
It's a pretty serious offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The former carries a maximum sentence of one year and a fine -- or both -- if convicted, while the latter carries a max punishment of three years in state prison.
Do you have questions about a case? Visalia and Bakersfield area criminal defense attorneys at Martens Law Firm can assist you with criminal charges. With years of criminal defense experience, our firm has handled thousands of cases. Attorneys here have the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia, Fresno, and Bakersfield areas, Martens & Brusseau can provide expert criminal defense counsel. CONTACT US AT 559-302-9722 OR 661-466-2142 TODAY