Everyone understands that law enforcement officials take DUI charges very seriously. When people think of intoxicated driving, they think of somebody impaired by alcohol. However, residents in the Los Angeles area can also be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana. Many people ask how police officials and prosecutors are able to prove that a person was impaired by marijuana. Here, the Los Angeles DUI attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter want to discuss this issue as well as what you can do if you have been charged with a DUI.
California has always been at the forefront of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. However, under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) VC, driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, is considered a criminal offense.
However, many people think that they will not face charges for driving under the influence of marijuana, even if they are pulled over. After all, there is no breathalyzer test like it is for alcohol to determine a person’s level of marijuana intoxication. However, please understand that law enforcement officials can, and do, arrest people for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Most DUI arrests occur after a police officer pulls over a driver who has committed a traffic violation. This can include evidence that a driver is impaired, such as weaving in and out of traffic or running stop signs, or the traffic stop could be made due to an equipment violation on the vehicle. Regardless of the reason for a stop, an officer will speak with the driver and may form an opinion about whether or not they are intoxicated. The police officer could base this observation based on the smell of marijuana, from physical signs and symptoms of intoxication, or from the driver’s admission to recently using marijuana.
In some cases, the police officer may be what is called a drug recognition expert (DRE) officer, or they may ask one to come to the scene. These officers have received specialized training to recognize the symptoms of drug intoxication in drivers. A driver suspected of impairment may also be asked to participate in a series of field sobriety tests.
When a driver has been arrested for DUI, they will be asked to submit to chemical testing to check for intoxicants in their system. There is currently no breath test designed to measure the presence of marijuana, so a driver will have to submit to blood testing in these situations. The results of a blood test are not usually known immediately, but they will be provided at a later date. A major problem with these tests is that the metabolites of marijuana remain in a person’s system for weeks after using the drug. Even a person who is not impaired by marijuana can still test positive.
If you or somebody you love has been charged with driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles Marijuana defense attorneys as soon as possible. At Okabe & Haushalter, we have the legal knowledge and experience necessary to conduct a full investigation into the charges against you. Our goal is to ensure you are treated fairly throughout this entire process.