Marijuana and California DUI Law
Aug 01st, 2016 | by Scott C. Thomas, Orange County Criminal Law Attorney
AB 2500, authored by California state assemblyman Jim Frazier, is a proposed amendment to the California Marijuana DUI statute, Vehicle Code § 23152, et. seq. The bill proposes the addition of a new “f” count, which states, “It is unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol of marijuana or any other drug classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act (Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code).” What does this mean? Essentially, it would be unlawful to drive a vehicle in California with any detectable amount of THC, or any of the other enumerated substances, regardless of whether or not it is psychoactive.
With regard to California marijuana DUI , this proposed amendment becomes particularly problematic. Most drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, are water soluble, and stay in a person’s system for a couple days. Marijuana, on the other hand, is fat soluble, and can stay in a person’s system from a couple days, to up to three months, and in some cases, beyond. Weight, body fat, amount consumed and, in particular, the frequency of usage, all determine how long a person will test positive for marijuana.
The issue with this proposed amendment is that there is no rational nexus between trying to prevent impaired driving and punishing drivers who are completely sober, but may have used a substance within the past couple days, or worse, the past couple months, and test positive on a drug test. At its core, it seems as though this proposed amendment seeks to punish those who use marijuana and other substances, under the guise of preventing driving under the influence.
This is especially disconcerting when you take into account that Vehicle Code § 23152(e) provides that, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” Here, the law makes sense because we are punishing drivers who drove “under the influence of any drug,” not drivers who tested positive for a drug.
Although this bill has not yet been passed, it illustrates an alarming trend in perverting the purported purpose of a law, to target specific groups of people.
A criminal arrest, especially on felony charges can turn a life upsidedown, ruin a reputation, and put the defendant at serious risk for long-range punishments.
A local police or state patrol stop for suspicion of drunk driving shouldn’t be the end of the world for anyone — whether it’s your first offense or your third.
A guilty verdict in a criminal trial for methamphetamine manufacture or heroin trafficking can put you in prison for years.
Your use of this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and our attorneys. The information and materials contained on this website are for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.