Under California Vehicle Code §23152, it is unlawful to be operating vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. In order for a person to be charged, prosecutors simply have to have reason to believe that a person is guilty of driving under the influence. However, for a person to be convicted of a DUI, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person being charged was not only driving, but was also intoxicated at the time he or she was driving. Both elements must be present, if there is only one, then the person cannot be found guilty of a DUI.
It is easier to demonstrate in a court of law that a person is under the influence of alcohol while operating a vehicle, than it is to prove the influence of other drugs. Alcohol can easily be tested for, and detected in a bloodstream. This is why when officers believe a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they will administer a breathalyzer test, or a blood test. The test will often provide accurate results as to the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood stream. Based on date, the legislature has even been able to quantify the amount that would qualify as intoxicated.
The use of drugs, specifically marijuana, is a lot harder to demonstrate as a blood test or breathalyzer will not provide an accurate calculation of intoxication. Even if there is marijuana present in a person’s system, it could have been from a day before, and the person may not be under the influence.
In any case, if a person has been charged with a DUI, under the influence of marijuana, a medical marijuana prescription will not provide an adequate defense. Consider the comparison of marijuana with alcohol. Alcohol is not illegal for people over 21 years of age. It is illegal for a person to consume it and operate a vehicle. Similarly, marijuana is not illegal if a person has the proper medical prescription. However, it IS illegal for a person to operate a vehicle if they are under the influence of marijuana.
Many people often forget to make that distinction. Simply holding a medical marijuana prescription does not give a person the unlimited right to use marijuana at any time. If you find yourself being charged with a DUI, and you are under the influence of marijuana, consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
Being under the influence of marijuana is much harder to prove in a court of law in comparison to alcohol and will allow an experienced and knowledgeable attorney ample room for argument. A conviction on your record can have significant impacts on your employment and education. If there is the opportunity to have your case dismissed and your record kept clean, then you should take every opportunity possible to ensure that you fight the case and get it dismissed.