When you hear the term “DUI” you automatically think, “drunk driving.” Some drivers may be surprised to know that they can face DUI charges for driving under the influence of anything that can impair driving performance. Last year, one California District Attorney even attempted to charge an over-caffeinated driver with DUI. Those charges didn’t stick, but many substances can impair driving performance.
California law enforcement officials face a growing issue in determining who is and isn’t impaired by marijuana use. Field sobriety tests typically detect alcohol impairment. While some drugs may significantly impair some drivers, they may not have a uniform effect on everyone.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in California today, and marijuana use can impair driving performance. Unfortunately, the state has no clear standards marijuana impairment. Instead, California currently relies on “drug recognition experts” to determine driver impairment. The courts will consider a police officer who has completed a two-week training course a drug recognition expert.
A trained California officer conducts tests and notes physical indicators of drug impairment during a traffic stop. His or her findings are exclusively a judgment call. Proponents of this method say that the traffic stop itself is the only time that another person can assess or determine impairment. Opponents say that overzealous officers could unfairly target individuals on the basis of race or class.
Other states that have legalized marijuana use take different approaches to determining impairment. Washington and Colorado established a “per se” legal limit for marijuana consumption. Those states deem users with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in their system impaired.
However, even with a “bright line” standard, a person exceeding a state’s “per se” limit may not actually be impaired. Blood-alcohol intoxication standards can generally predict impairment in most people. Per se THC standards, on the other hand, do not successfully predict impairment nearly as well. Confounding the problem is the fact that normal metabolism can eliminate 70% or more of the psychoactive THC in a person’s bloodstream in an hour. This makes documenting actual THC levels at the time of arrest almost impossible.
Ventura DUI attorney
When you face charges for a DUI in Ventura, especially involving marijuana impairment, hire a DUI attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience. He takes cases in Ventura County and throughout Southern California. The laws and science regulating marijuana impairment are still evolving. An experienced attorney can positively help you resolve a marijuana DUI.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura DUI case.
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