So you’re driving down Wilshire (or maybe Ventura or PCH, Geary, Front, the 10, or elsewhere in California, enjoying a polite little buzz from a gummy you took a couple of hours ago. And then, oops, you see flashing lights in your rear-view. You pull over and the Law Enforcement Officer informs you that you’ve been changing lanes without signaling. Or maybe you had a taillight out. Or maybe you had the good fortune of wandering into a DUI checkpoint.

Great. A ticket. There goes your formerly-low insurance premium. But at least they can’t tell you’ve had a gummy, right?

Surprise! The officer asks you to step out of your car. Still, no worries you think; medicinal and recreational cannabis are legal in CA, aren’t they? How can Officer Judy possibly tell you’re a bit high?

It’s really kind of a grey area now. Cannabis is legal in CA but still illegal on the federal level. And if the officer sees drug paraphernalia in your car, smells some of the devil’s lettuce on your person or in the car, or thinks for some other reason that you may be driving under the influence, he or she has cause to check you out.

As you’re probably aware, if you’re suspected of driving drunk, the means of testing are clear. Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) can be measured using a breath or blood test. If you are test above 0.08, you’re in trouble.

But you can’t be similarly measured for your “stonedness.” Yet if the officer thinks you may be under the influence of drugs, a Drug Recognition Expert (Now there’s a job! Need to update my resume, lol!) may be called in. DRE’s are trained to perform sobriety tests in the field and examine suspected individuals for drug impairment based on specific signs. Their evaluation can be used as evidence to support a drug-related DUI charge.

If you’re arrested, you may be given a blood or urine test that can quantify the amount of THC in your body. But THC can stay in your system for up to a few days; there’s no specific level that proves you were stoned when you were behind the wheel.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who offers experience with DUI cases. Because the penalties are the same as an alcohol DUI.

For a first offense, you may:

  • Be fined $390
  • Have your driver’s license suspended for six months
  • Face up to six months of jail time, or
  • Be required to take three months of DUI school

Subsequent convictions? You’re looking at more than a year of prison time and a $5,000 fine.

Please friends – be safe. Keep other motorists and pedestrians safe. Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or anything that may impair you’re driving.

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