Marijuana DUI Defense
Prop 64 did make any changes to the legality of marijuana DUIs. Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) still makes it illegal for any person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
VIB Law Partner Cameron Bowman is a statewide expert on defending these type of “marijuana DUIs.” Bowman recently authored a chapter on how to defend these type of cases for the upcoming National Cannabis Bar Association defense manual.
- Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) makes it illegal for any person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Vehicle Code 23152(e) reads: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug [including marijuana] to drive a vehicle.”
Many DA’s offices are setting up special “marijuana DUI” units. The CHP and other law enforcement agencies are also getting much more aggressive with these types of case.
However, there is a fundamental problems with the prosecution of these type of DUIs. As Bowman explains, “There is a huge problem with prosecuting marijuana DUIS. THC can remain in your system for a long period of time after it is no longer psychoactive or having any effect on your system. A chronic user of marijuana may have a positive test days or even weeks after their use. Unlike alcohol, it is extremely difficult to take the results of a positive THC and then extrapolate back in time as to the amount and recency of use. The science just isn’t there yet to prove these cases”
If you are faced with a prosecution under this statute, it is critical to seek an expert with the proper experience to assist you in your defense.
What are the penalties for “Marijuana DUIs?”
VC § 23536. First offense
- If a person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23152, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which shall be continuous, nor more than six months, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
- The court shall order that a person punished under subdivision (a), who is to be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, be imprisoned on days other than days of regular employment of the person, as determined by the court. If the court determines that 48 hours of continuous imprisonment would interfere with the person’s work schedule, the court shall allow the person to serve the imprisonment whenever the person is normally scheduled for time off from work. The court may make this determination based upon a representation from the defendant’s attorney or upon an affidavit or testimony from the defendant.
- The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.
- Whenever, when considering the circumstances taken as a whole, the court determines that the person punished under this section would present a traffic safety or public safety risk if authorized to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, the court may disallow the issuance of a restricted driver’s license required under Section 13352.4.
As with an “alcohol” DUI, the penalties for VC 23152(e) DUI of marijuana increase with each conviction for any form of DUI–including DUI of alcohol and DUI of drugs–within a 10-year period. This chart summarizes the penalties for DUI of marijuana for defendants with a prior conviction or where an accident has caused an injury to another person: