How can the Police Prove Impairment in DUI Marijuana Cases?

How can the police prove impairment in DUI marijuana cases? Learn more from attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney. Call us for guidance.

Understanding Weed DUIs and the Testing Procedure

When most people think of DUIs, they think of drunk driving. If you are reading this, then you probably know that DUIs encompass more than just alcohol.DUIs cover driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.

Most people are familiar with the breath test police officers conduct to check for alcohol sobriety. But if a police officer pulls you over for a marijuana DUI, how do they prove you are impaired?

Unlike alcohol, there is no legal blood concentration limit for marijuana DUIs in California. As such, law enforcement officers often check for physical signs of impairment, like erratic driving. Additionally, you may be asked to undergo tests like saliva, blood, or urine tests. Drug DUIs attract similar penalties as alcohol DUIs.

Hence, having skilled legal representation to fight such charges is crucial. Call the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney if you would like comprehensive legal representation.

What Physical Signs of Marijuana Impairment Do the Police Check For?

When you are pulled over for a suspected marijuana DUI in California, the police officer will inspect you for signs of impairment. The first thing they will note is your manner of driving. This might even be their reason for pulling you over in the first place – uncoordinated or reckless driving.

The police officer will also likely ask you a few questions to gauge your awareness of the situation, listen to your speech patterns, and pick any hints of the smell of marijuana. You will be free to go if the officers are convinced you are not impaired. Otherwise, they will ask you to step out of the car.

They will conduct roadside tests to gauge your coordination at this stage. They may ask you to walk a straight line, stand on one leg, count to 30, etc. They will also observe you physically for indicators of marijuana impairment like:

  • Dilated pupils

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Rapid breathing

  • Red eyes

  • Slowed reaction time

If you fail the tests, the police officers will have enough probable cause to make a DUI marijuana arrest. If you are arrested, it is crucial that you request to speak with your attorney and avoid saying anything incriminating.

Chemical Testing in Marijuana DUI Cases

After you are arrested, the police can require you to undergo chemical testing. This is to determine the quantity of marijuana in your body. Since there is no minimum or maximum limit for marijuana concentration in the blood, this test does not necessarily serve as irrefutable evidence. It will simply support or negate the other findings of the police concerning your arrest.

The test can be disputed as it does not necessarily prove how recently marijuana was consumed since marijuana does not leave the body as fast as alcohol. Furthermore, it does not prove that you were impaired while driving.

Chemical tests for marijuana are administered in three ways:

  • Blood test

  • Urine test

  • Saliva Test

Blood and saliva tests can detect your body’s THC levels (THC is the psychoactive substance in marijuana). Urine tests cannot detect THC in the body. Instead, they detect metabolites associated with marijuana use in the body. Blood tests are the most commonly administered chemical test.

Proving Marijuana Impairment in a DUI Case

In alcohol-related DUI cases, the police can easily do a test to determine intoxication. Once your blood alcohol concentration is over 0.08% while driving, you would be breaking the law. However, with a drug DUI, the police would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you consumed some marijuana and that your driving was impaired by it. 

To do this, they would typically rely on a variety of evidence. First, the officers who arrested you would give testimony of your behavior and physical appearance when you were pulled over. They would also present any failed roadside tests as evidence. Additionally, if you had any marijuana paraphernalia in your motor vehicle, it would be brought up to support the DUI charge.

If chemical tests were conducted and they indicated significant marijuana blood content, they would serve as further proof that you were under the influence of marijuana. Other things like a history of drug addiction and character testimonies may also be brought up to support the marijuana DUI charge.

Lastly, drug recognition experts may be invited to examine you after your DUI arrest in certain jurisdictions like Los Angeles. These professionals are trained to be able to recognize signs of marijuana use. They could testify at your trial if their findings are crucial to your case.

How Can an Attorney Defend You Against Marijuana DUI Charges?

The exact defense strategy your attorney would employ depends on the specific facts of your case. However, the following are some common defenses in marijuana DUI cases.

  • You were not driving at the time of your arrest: The use of marijuana in California is legal both medically and recreationally. It only leads to a DUI when you drive a vehicle while under the influence of said drug. If you were not driving before you were arrested (e.g., sitting in a parked car), you cannot be said to have committed a DUI. You may, however, be guilty of some other offense, like using marijuana in a public place, which is an infraction in California.

  • You were not impaired: You may be able to prove that although you had consumed marijuana, you were not impaired while driving.

  • You did not use marijuana: If you did not use marijuana at all, a skilled lawyer could develop a comprehensive strategy to defend you against the prosecution’s charges.

  • Your rights were violated: After your arrest and before your official interrogation, you ought to have been read your Fifth Amendment rights/Miranda rights, which is your right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination. If the police did not read you your rights, your case would not necessarily be dismissed. However, most of the information they got from you would be inadmissible in court. This could severely weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially lead to them withdrawing the case or reducing your charges.

Facing Marijuana DUI Charges? Contact Us Today

If you are facing a drug-related DUI charge, seeking timely legal help is very important. If this is your second or third DUI, you are at even more risk of harsher penalties. A criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can give you a fighting chance. With our experience, knowledge, and skills, we can provide competent and aggressive legal representation in the courtroom.

The outcome of your case matters to us. We do everything in our power to make sure your charges are dismissed, dropped, or reduced. We develop innovative legal solutions tailored to each case we handle and offer a free initial consultation to begin the representation process. For trustworthy and effective criminal defense in California, contact us today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced DUI attorney.

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