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Proving marijuana DUI charge may be a challenge for prosecution

Although California voters approved Proposition 64 last November, legislation surrounding marijuana is still evolving. This applies particularly to laws related to driving under the influence of marijuana. At this time, driving while impaired by marijuana can lead to a DUI charge that can result in felony or misdemeanor prosecution.

The problem, at this stage, is proving that the level of impairment compromised a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Law enforcement officers have apparently been anticipating the legalization and undergoing training to prepare them for recognizing marijuana impairment and learning the proper protocols for handling these drivers. Their problem, for the near future, will be to prove impairment in the criminal court.

Currently, there is no legal way to measure the level of marijuana impairment accurately. Also, no minimum limit set such as the .08 percent for alcohol intoxication. For this reason, the prosecution will have to build their DUI case on the suspect's driving pattern, physical appearance, performance during a field sobriety test, and a toxicology test showing the presence of marijuana -- but not the amount -- in the bloodstream.

A DUI charge for driving under the influence of marijuana can be intimidating. The task of the prosecution will be to prove that the driver's ability to operate the vehicle was affected by marijuana, although the mere presence of the substance does not mean impairment. However, with the help of an experienced California criminal defense attorney on the side of the accused driver, the prosecution may have a hard time proving a driver's guilt on marijuana impaired driving charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: sierrastar.com, "Is it OK to smoke marijuana in California?", David Linn, Jan. 10, 2017

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