Marijuana DUI in California Explained

Recreational use of marijuana has been legal under California law for the past several months. In the excitement of this legalization, many have forgotten to consider that many marijuana-related laws are still on the books. This is true of laws relating to driving after smoking marijuana including pot DUI laws. If you are pulled over or arrested for a marijuana DUI, you may need to call a criminal attorney.

When most people think about driving while intoxicated and DUI crimes, they predominantly think of alcohol intoxication. This alcohol-centric perception may be due to popular public safety campaigns against drinking and driving. Many do not realize that California law prohibits other forms of intoxicated driving, including driving under the influence of marijuana.

Traditional Marijuana DUI Laws

Under the California vehicle code, it has always been illegal to drive under the influence of any drug, including marijuana. California Vehicle Code 23152(f) reads: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” Drugs are defined as any substance that can affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles. This includes marijuana and many other THC products such as pot edibles.

California’s New Pot Vehicular Possession Law

When the legislature legalized recreational marijuana, it included some new restrictions on pot possession and use in motor vehicles. These new restrictions largely track California’s alcohol open container laws. First, this new law bans smoking pot or eating cannabis edibles while driving OR riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle. Second, the law regulates how marijuana can be stored in motor vehicles. Specifically, any marijuana carried in a vehicle must be kept in a sealed container.

Criminal Penalties for Marijuana DUI

The types of criminal penalties that DUI defendants will differ depending on how many prior convictions for DUI the accused has and whether a DUI-related accident occurred. First-time DUI defendants have the lowest penalties, but prosecutor can still seek up to six-months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Second-time DUI defendants will also face a fine and must serve time in jail anywhere from the mandatory minimum of four days to one year. Third-time DUI defendants will also incur a fine and must serve a minimum of four months in jail. The sentence and fine will increase in cases in which a person is injured as a result of a DUI.  Finally, in almost all cases, the Court will suspend a convicted DUI Defendant’s driver’s license and require the Defendant to attend driving school.

These are the possible penalties for criminal DUI convictions; however, a good criminal attorney can help negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to either reduce the charges or ensure lower sentencing.

Do I Need a Criminal Attorney for a Marijuana DUI?

Regardless of the amount of marijuana you took, you need to consult with a criminal attorney if you are charged with a pot-related DUI. It is very dangerous to attempt to resolve a DUI charge on your own because of the consequences of having a DUI on your permanent record. Statistically, criminal defendants who are represented by an attorney are far more likely to have DUI and drug-related charges dismissed or have sentences reduced.

For more information about how our law firm can represent you and protect your rights, please contact Kenney Legal Defense at (855) 505-5588 today!

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