Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What if I Get Pulled Over and My Car Smells Like Weed?

There's a lot of misinformation on this topic.  Unfortunately for a lot of my clients, that often means that they call me after they've been arrested for DUI.  Don't make that mistake.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is a DUI in California, just like driving under the influence of alcohol.  It doesn't matter if you're over 21 or if you have a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana.  Think of weed like alcohol -- just because you're allowed to possess it doesn't mean that you're allowed to operate a vehicle while you're under the influence.

The big difference between marijuana and alcohol is that there's no legal limit for THC and no reliable way to determine a driver's degree of impairment with weed.  Blood, urine and saliva tests cannot accurately tell us whether or not a subject is dangerously intoxicated by marijuana.  This means that marijuana DUIs are pretty arbitrary.  They often turn on the police officer's opinion based on his observations before and after the traffic stop.  The factors that I usually see listed in police reports include:
  • Bad driving
  • Smell of marijuana coming from the interior of the vehicle
  • Driver observed smoking in a moving vehicle
  • Red, glassy eyes
  • Any signs that the driver is disoriented or has difficulty following instructions, etc.
The strongest evidence that the police usually gather in these cases, though, is the driver's own statements.  Way too many of my clients talk themselves into trouble after a traffic stop.  If you admit to consuming marijuana before (or while) driving, you will be arrested on suspicion of DUI

Without your admission of recent marijuana use, the police might not have enough evidence to arrest you.  If you keep your mouth shut and the police arrest you anyway, we'll have a much stronger defense when we appear in court.  

If you or a loved one has questions about driving under the influence of marijuana in California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 449-3335.  Ask for John.  

Thanks for reading.