Fresno DUI Defense and Marijuana
Nov 22, 2018
Recreational marijuana has been legal in California for over a year. However, "driving while high" is still illegal. Determining who is driving while impaired by marijuana is more difficult than finding out who is driving drunk. No equivalent breathalyzer test exists for cannabis, at least not at this point. So how does law enforcement determine whether you're driving under the influence of marijuana?
Currently, law enforcement in California must rely on field sobriety tests to determine whether a motorist has been driving while high. Officers have been trained to recognize the signs of marijuana consumption. However, as a piece in the Sacramento Bee notes, these tests, which include walking a straight line and standing on one leg, can be subjective. Signs of recent marijuana use, which include slow reaction times, dilated eyes, and so on can have other causes, like a medical condition. There is another study that was conducted at Clemson University in 1994 by Spurgeon Cole and Ronald H. Nowaczyk that highlighted that these field sobriety tests are inaccurate and, perhaps, designed for the participant to fail. One fact that I find interesting is that these tests have a grading matrix, but the driver doesn't know the answers on the matrix. That's like taking a test where you haven't been taught the material beforehand.
What should you do if you are pulled over and, after a field test, arrested for driving while high? The rules for behavior when you are accused of any crime adhere in this case. You should exercise your right to remain silent. You should retain the services of a good lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. You should then place your case in that person's capable hands.
If you do indulge in your new right to smoke or otherwise ingest recreational marijuana in California, you should not get behind the wheel after having done so. If you need to go somewhere, take a cab, take a rideshare car, or have a friend or relative drive you. The best way to avoid being charged with driving while high is to not do it to begin with.
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Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.