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Marijuana Use Prohibited While Driving in California

Marijuana Use Prohibited While Driving in California

I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno car accident lawyer. Since Proposition 64 was approved in 2016, recreational marijuana is permitted in California. Anticipating the increased usage after it becomes legal to sell the substance for this purpose after January 2018, lawmakers enacted amendments to the existing law that prohibits its use while riding in or driving a motor vehicle.

The New Law

Senate Bill 65 amends California Vehicle Codes 23220 and 23221, whether on or off highways in the state so as to prohibit the use of marijuana when driving. This builds upon the former restriction for alcohol use previously covered in the vehicle codes. The update was proposed by Senator Jerry Hill and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

The law covers both smoking cannabis and eating marijuana edibles. Hill uses a study done in 2012 by the California Office of Traffic Safety that showed the use of marijuana was higher at night on the weekends when drivers were tested for both alcohol and cannabis. An infraction of the amended law can result in a $70 fine.

Drug Recognition Evaluators

Drug recognition experts or evaluators are police officers trained to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. With combined support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation, the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) was established. Under its auspices, DREs are trained and certified on a local and state level. In addition, toxicologists and prosecutors are given information on how the DRE process works and the drugs that are covered. DREs must recertify every 24 months.

In 2017, experts met to discuss the effects of legalizing marijuana and its impact on driving under the influence laws that are available and developing necessary changes. One reason for the study is to bring existing protocols into a tighter efficacy range.

How Marijuana Affects Driving Ability

Marijuana affects driving skills, according to a study published in Clinical Chemistry. The drivers reacted slowly, and as tasks became more complex, they demonstrated less control. Other changes that were noted within one hour of smoking were a decrease in cognitive function and increased lane weaving. Even with long-time users, cognitive function was decreased, eliminating the effects of tolerance. Marijuana also decreases coordination and lowers the ability to problem solve and make decisions. The deficits of marijuana are enhanced if alcohol is taken concurrently.

DUI With Marijuana

Under California law, it is illegal to drive impaired while under the influence of any drug, including marijuana. This means that the prosecution must prove that the driver not only ingested the drug but also that the drug had a deleterious effect on his or her driving ability.

Implied Consent

Driving a vehicle on California roads provides authorities with implied consent to use drug and alcohol testing. In some cities in the state, including Los Angeles and San Diego, the use of a new method for determining marijuana use has been implemented. Instead of blood or urine testing, it uses a mouth swab. Under current law, officers are trained to recognize the effects of marijuana use such as bloodshot eyes, unsafe driving, and marijuana odor. Once the officer’s suspicions are confirmed, the driver is asked to submit to the testing. It takes under ten minutes to receive results.

Fresno Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno car accident lawyer. Driving after having smoked marijuana or using cannabis edibles can impair a motorist’s ability to drive safely. When you or a member of your family has been injured due to an impaired driver’s negligence, please call me at (559) 377-7676. If you are outside the area, you can reach me on my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400. I am available to you to provide friendly and free advice.

In the past 35 years as a California injury lawyer, I have assisted many Northern Californians, including Fresno, get the compensation they need for their traumatic injuries or a wrongful death that helps with the financial loss the family experiences when a loved one dies.

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