California might be one of the only states that has legalized both medicinal and recreational marijuana, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a free for all. Just like you wouldn’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving while high on cannabis products is also illegal.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to determine if a driver is high or not. Blood alcohol content (BAC) can be used to determine when a driver is drunk through a simple breathalyzer test, but pot is a little different. There’s no way to measure the amount of cannabis present in someone’s blood or breath at a simple traffic stop. Additionally, the amount of pot in someone’s body doesn’t always correlate with how dramatically the THC affects the person in question. One person might have to smoke an entire joint to feel anything while a single puff for the amateur smoker might result in calling an Orange County car accident lawyer.
Regardless, driving while high is never a good idea. Statistics have shown that the number of marijuana-related car accidents increased from 2013 through 2016. However, there was no determinate method to tell whether or not pot was a significant factor in the accident.
If you’re living in California, whether you’re taking medicinal pot to bolster the effects of your walk-in chiropractic treatment or just trying to have a good time, here’s what you should know about driving while high.
It’s illegal — and comes with penalties
First and foremost, driving while under the influence of THC is illegal. That means you can suffer the consequences of fines, suspension of your license, and even jail time.
However, it’s important to note that penalties vary from situation to situation. A first-time offender might have to spend six months in jail. For repeat offenders, however, more significant fines and jail time might follow.
Even though it’s hard to tell if an individual is high while driving, any suspicion can result in being taken down to the station. Even more importantly, California officers have been undergoing training to recognize the classic symptoms of driving under the influence of marijuana. Such common symptoms include the distinctive smell, bloodshot eyes, rapid heartbeat, and slow reaction times. In some cases, an officer might even go through the typical roadside test to guage your level of impairment.
As new bills make their way through the senate, we might encounter even more laws regarding impairment identification. Some police officers have even experimented with roadside blood tests to determine if the driver is too impaired to drive.
You can seek out the help of a lawyer
Even though THC-related crimes exist in a gray area now, you can still seek the counsel of an attorney.
An experienced attorney has the knowledge necessary to defend both guilty and innocent people. In some cases, you might be charged with a crime even if you weren’t under the influence of THC at the time of your arrest. Regardless, a lawyer will be able to defend your case and represent you in a court of law.
As THC-related crimes rise, more car accident attorneys are becoming well-versed in laws pertaining to cannabis. This is especially beneficial for tourists looking to indulge when they’re on vacation. If you find yourself in a legal dispute while in California, relying on a local lawyer is your best course of action.
Keep in mind that you also cannot take cannabis — even if it’s legally purchased — outside of state lines. As soon as you cross into another jurisdiction, you can be charged with criminal possession of marijuana. Your best bet is to follow the law, never drive while high, and consume marijuana in a safe, appropriate location. With these tips, you can avoid the damaging effects of smoking and driving.