California DUID – Driving Under The Influence of Drugs (CA Vehicle Code 23152)

Rabin Nabizadeh
May 15, 2014

As authorities, law enforcement officials, and representatives of the DEA attempt to figure out ways to curtail ‘drugged’ driving in Colorado now that recreational marijuana has been made legal, Californians may be left wondering if there is such a law in their state.  In California, driving while under the influence of marijuana seems to be what cops are focusing on.  The problem with legislating any such law, or even having a rational discussion about it, is that determining whether or not someone is ‘high’ or simply has marijuana in their system is entirely subjective; there is no real objective test.

California law does not distinguish, in name, between a DUI and a so-called DUID (driving under the influence of drugs).  Both circumstances are covered under the (CA Vehicle Code 23152, parts “a” and “b.”  Part “b,” the portion that many people believe they have a handle on, is the one that states that a person could be arrested on DUI charges if it can be proven that they are above the legal .08 alcohol limit.  However, this section also covers illegal substances like marijuana.

Part “a,” however, is less well known by the average citizen.  While many folks believe that they can drink and drive as long as they do not drink to the point of a .08% level, that they cannot be arrested.  This is simply not true.  With either alcohol or drugs (and this means both legal and illegal), what officers are looking for is whether or not your driving is impaired as opposed to a ‘sober’ driver.  In other words, it’s entirely subjective.  While there is no legal limit for the amount of, for example, the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – active ingredient in marijuana ) that a person has in their bloodstream, if an officer simply smells marijuana in the vehicle, you could be arrested.  It remains to be seen what law enforcement officials in Colorado will come up with to determine levels, etc. for impaired driving.  In the meantime, Californians should remain in the know about DUI laws in their areas.

 

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