Marijuana -related DUI vs. Alcohol-related DUI

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California Marijuana Law – Driving under the influence of marijuana vs. driving under the influence of alcohol

Driving under the influence of any drug (legal or not) is illegal in California and across the nation. Any substance (other than alcohol) that affects the nervous system, brain or muscles so as to impair (to an appreciable degree) one’s ability to safely drive in the same manner than an ordinarily prudent and cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties, using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances can lead to one’s arrest for this charge, whether it’s marijuana, a prescribed drug or an over-the-counter medicine. One’s best chance at avoiding the harsh penalties that are commonly imposed in connection with driving under the influence of marijuana is to hire a criminal defense lawyer who specializes not only in driving under the influence cases, but in cases that involve marijuana as well.

An experienced lawyer knows that a DUI investigation that involves alcohol is prosecuted in much the same way as a DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) investigation that involves marijuana. The arresting officer examines the accused driver in an aggressive effort to prove that he or she was impaired at the time of driving and bases his or her assumption on the driver’s driving pattern, his or her physical appearance, his or her performance and on the field sobriety tests. One of the main differences between the two investigations is that in a “drunk driving” case, the arresting officer typically has a hand-held breath testing instrument, known as a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) device, which allows the officer to confirm or refute his or her suspicions right at the scene. In a marijuana-related D.U.I., there is no such test and the officer must, therefore, strictly rely on his or her observations of the driver, which means that more frequently than not, that driver will be arrested on a DUID charge. It should be noted that the officer doesn’t have to specify that marijuana is the drug, only that a drug other than alcohol was suspected.

In California, a drug recognition expert (“DRE”) may also be called to the scene to help the arresting officer determine whether the driver was D.U.I.D. This officer will typically determine what “class” of drugs the driver was under the influence of (he or she may or may not specify marijuana) and will testify as an “expert” on behalf of the prosecution to help prove the state’s case.

The primary difference between the two types of investigations lies in the chemical test. In an alcohol-related DUI investigation, the driver has the choice, in this state, of taking a blood or breath test. In a drug-related DUI investigation, the driver has the choice between a blood or urine test. Both results are easily challenged by a savvy criminal attorney, as he or she knows (and relays to the judge and jury via a defense criminalist) that neither test is indicative of being under the influence and that both only indicate the presence of marijuana in the system, which, depending on which test the accused submitted to, can linger for quite some time after use.

California Marijuana and Drug Defense Lawyer

Although the evidence that the arresting officer gathers may seem overwhelming, a skilled defense attorney is not fazed by any of it and, in fact, considers it quite routine. The outstanding attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm know precisely what types of defenses to employ in a driving under the influence of marijuana case and, even more importantly, know how to effectively convey them to the judge and jury. They have mastered this area of the law, which is directly reflected in their exceptional results. With law offices located throughout the state, including several in and around the Los Angeles area, they are easily accessible for anyone in need of an experienced California DUID attorney. For the most trusted legal advice and unsurpassed representation, contact them today for a free consultation.