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Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

California Vehicle Code §23152(a) Misdemeanor

LAW: It is unlawful to drive while under the influence of marijuana if impaired to the degree that renders one unable to operate a motor vehicle safely.

PENALTY: 1st offense: maximum 6 months in jail; fine of $390-$1,000; restricted license; 3 years probation, and, if under 21 years old, loss of license for 1 year. (Qualified medical patients are not exempt from statutes prohibiting driving while impaired.)

Notes from Bruce :

TOUGH CASES FOR THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE: Unlike the .08% blood alcohol level in drunk driving cases, which makes a defendant presumptively guilty, there is no presumptive standard THC amount that establishes impairment to operate a motor vehicle.

ALCOHOL + WEED DON'T MIX! Studies show that using alcohol with marijuana radically increases chances of impairment and these types of cases are much less defensible. DON'T DO IT!

DUI SUSPECTS CAN REFUSE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS. In the event of being pulled over by the police, you may refuse to answer any questions (other than identifying yourself) or take field sobriety tests, although refusal may be seen as consciousness of guilt. However, if you are arrested, you are required to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Refusal will result in the loss of your driver's license for a minimum of one year.


CALIFORNIA LAW: Persons under 21 convicted of any marijuana offense will lose their California driver's license for one year, even if not driving at the time. Adults may also lose their license for up to 3 years [CA Vehicle Code 13202] if the court suspends or orders the DMV to revoke the driver's license for possession for sale, transportation, or sale to a minor. In many other states, anyone convicted of any offense involving any controlled substance, including marijuana, will lose their driver's license for 6 months, regardless of whether or not the offense is driving-related! See points 1-5 (on page g) for courtroom strategies on how to avoid conviction for less than an ounce. Even if you lose your license, you may still request a restricted license from the court. In cases involving a "critical need to drive." the court can allow for a restricted license.

YOUTHFUL OFFENDER ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS: In some CA counties, prosecutors have established programs in which the defendant agrees to attend counseling, such as Mother's Against Drunk Driving meetings or similar programs. Typically, go days later, the defendant is allowed to plead to an alternative charge, such as "Disturbing the Peace." This avoids a controlled substance conviction and loss of license.

The Law Offices of Bruce M. Margolin, Esq.

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