Santa Barbara Marijuana DUI Attorney
Marijuana & Driving Under the Influence in Santa Barbara, CA
In California, a driver cannot operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or the combination of both substances. According to California Vehicle Code § 23152(a):
It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
This law applies to prescription drugs, narcotics, marijuana, and virtually any other controlled substance. One of the most common drugs associated with this offense – sometimes called "drugged driving" – is marijuana. However, some researchers believe that marijuana does not impair one's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Additionally, it is difficult for law enforcement to measure that amount of the effects of marijuana, leading to many unfair marijuana DUI arrests and convictions.
Do you need marijuana DUI lawyer in Santa Barbara?
If you were arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, the Santa Barbara marijuana DUI Lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP have the skill to help you avoid an unnecessary or unfair conviction.
With more than five collective years of experience, we understand the ins and outs of the DUI process and are fully confident in our ability to provide the legal guidance and advocacy that you need; even if you feel like your case is hopeless.
Additional Charges: If you are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, law enforcement can easily accuse you of drug possession as well. According to California Vehicle Code §23222 (b), it is unlawful a person to possess marijuana while driving. If police find marijuana on your person during a DUI investigation, you could face more than a simple DUI; you could face drug charges as well, such as marijuana possession, marijuana distribution, or possession with the intent to sell.
What are the penalties for Marijuana DUI in California?
Marijuana DUI is punishable by the same consequences as a standard drunk driving conviction. This means that, depending on the nature of your conviction and your criminal history, you could face up to one year in jail. Aggravated circumstances could enhance this penalty. Additionally, the judge could assign three to five years of informal probation, a $1,000 fine, DUI school, and six months of driver's license suspension. If the court determines that you caused an accident or injured someone while driving under the influence of marijuana, you could face heightened penalties.
Proving DUI with Marijuana
Generally speaking, marijuana DUI is more difficult to prove than driving under the influence of alcohol. While law enforcement has developed methods, such as breathalyzer tests, to determine the level of alcohol in a driver's system, there is no way to truly measure the level of marijuana in a person's bloodstream. The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can be traced in a person's bloodstream for weeks after the individual consumed the drug. However, the effects of marijuana usually last for only a few hours. In other words, law enforcement might assume that you drove under the influence of marijuana when you were actually sober.
How do police prove that you drove under the influence of marijuana?
Law enforcement may have difficulty demonstrating that you drove under the influence of marijuana. However, common evidence used in marijuana DUI cases include your driving patterns, field sobriety test results, chemical testing, and your physical appearance. For example: a law enforcement officer could claim that your driving patterns indicated marijuana impairment. Additionally, an office could claim that your eyes were red during the DUI investigation and that you failed standardized field sobriety testing. Although his evidence could point to DUI with marijuana, it could also be explained by exhaustion or other variables.
Fighting Allegations of DUI with Marijuana
If you were accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, a skill Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can stand up for your rights in court. Three common defenses against marijuana DUI include:
- Marijuana does not always impair your ability to operate a vehicle. According to some researchers, marijuana DUIs are the result of popular stereotypes. These stereotypes assume that anyone who is under the influence of marijuana cannot safety drive a car. In reality, marijuana does not always impair a drive's senses like alcohol. Unlike alcohol, marijuana tends to make drivers more cautions, not reckless. Additionally, drivers who are under the influence of marijuana understand its effects and can compensate while driving.
- Law enforcement cannot tell when the driver used marijuana. Blood tests are only used to detect marijuana in the driver's system; they cannot determine when the driver last used marijuana. THC can remain in your system for several weeks after use, even though the effects of marijuana usually wear off in a few hours. In other words, a blood or urine test might indicate drug use long after its effects subsided. Because of this, many drivers face unfair DUI charges associated with marijuana.
- Blood and urine tests cannot determine how much marijuana the driver use. While breath testing can indirectly determine a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC), blood and urine samples how much marijuana the driver used. According to research, a "high" driver will experience the same amount of impairment as someone with a BAC or .04%. This percentage is half of the legal limit. Thus, chemical testing is almost meaningless in a marijuana DUI case because it cannot determine the amount of marijuana used by the driver.