They are exactly the same as they are for an alcohol based DUI even if you are under twenty-one. The penalties are the same. It is considered a drug related DUI. Whether the first one was alcohol or drugs, or the second one was alcohol or drugs, they are still the same. It counts as a prior. The only difference is not the criminal side of it, but the administrative DMV side. In California, if you are stopped and you have a .08% or above alcohol level, the DMV will suspend your license. But, if it is a DUI drug they do not. The administrative laws are only for alcohol. If you are convicted of a DUI drug, you can get a six month suspension from DMV just like you would for a DUI alcohol. You also can get a suspended license for that. You can get a restricted license for work, but there is no administrative per say suspension for DUI drugs like there is for a DUI alcohol. It is a four month administrative suspension.
The Importance Of Scientific Evidence In A Prescription Medication DUI
You must have an expert on your side. You have to do research on it. Most of my cases are DUI marijuana cases. So you have to learn a lot about it and everything you can about it and you need an expert to help explain it to the jury. The scientific part of it is very important. You have to have an understanding of how it affects their body, how it can be absorbed, whether or not they can tell when you last ingested it as well. Drugs are not as simple to deal with as alcohol can be.
How Do Marijuana DUI Cases Play Out?
They will do a blood test in most cases. If there is marijuana in the system, it will show what is called THC, so many Nano grams of THC and also the metabolite which is THC-COOH. It is how they word it on all lab reports. The metabolite is what has gone through the system, or what the body has converted from the THC and it really does not affect the body anymore. It is in the fat cells, but it is not affecting the body. It is the THC which has this effect. The euphoric effect of marijuana. For instance, there are a couple of states that actually have a law on marijuana. It is five Nano grams. For Colorado, I think it is one. Plenty of states legalized it, they are the only ones that did this.
There is no basis for it at all for saying that if you are driving with five nanograms of THC in your system that you may be impaired. That automatically makes you impaired. But, under their law it does. There is absolutely no studies, no scientific basis at all for it. Depending on your tolerance for marijuana you could have way more than five nanograms and not be impaired. A few states do it that way. Recently AAA came out with their review of all the studies and they agreed that there is no correlations between the amount of THC in your system and your ability to drive a vehicle. That is what these studies show.
Alcohol goes into the water of your body. Marijuana goes into the fat cells. They stay there for quite a long time. If you are a chronic user it can stay there for a long time. So, a chronic user could have forty nanograms of the metabolite in their system when they take a blood test and that does not mean anything. But, to a casual user, you can sometimes determine when they ingested it based on the metabolite versus the active ingredient THC. Whatever their ratio can be, sometimes that can give you a hint as to how long ago they took marijuana. Another thing is that smoking it gets it into your system and brain much quicker than oral ingestion. Marijuana candies and stuff like that can take a couple of hours before it starts to get into your system whereas smoking can get into it within minutes.
Generally fifteen minutes and you have reached a peak and it is gone from smoking. At least that is what the studies tend to show. It probably would not be the active in there. It would probably just be the metabolite. You cannot be under the influence of something when it is just the metabolite because it is not affecting the body anymore. It just hangs on in their fat cells. I do not know what the reason is, but it takes a while for it to go out. I was listening to an expert at a seminar and he explained how it becomes a metabolite and what the body does to change it into a metabolite. A chronic user could have a large amount of metabolites in their system, but it will not affect them unless it is the active ingredient. There are a lot of medical marijuana users. The person smells like it. The officer asks if they smoke marijuana. The person says, I have a medical marijuana card.
It is just like a prescription drug. You still cannot use it if it impairs you. Most of the studies show that people who drive on marijuana tend to be safer. They drive slower and leave more space between vehicles usually. They do not know whether that is because they realize they are high and they are overcompensating for it. What their reason is, they get these studies of all these accidents over the years and they cannot find any correlation between marijuana use and the accidents. There is no higher rate between marijuana users and people on other things. If you mix marijuana and alcohol, if you are drinking and smoking marijuana, it exasperates the effects and you can become really impaired.
So, a lot of these accidents where they report marijuana being involved are usually the ones where there was alcohol involved as well and that is the real problem. Marijuana by itself does not seem to be a problem for driving. I recently had a case of a young girl who got stopped for speeding and the cop could smell the marijuana in the car. She had smoked it half an hour earlier. Part of a joint, a small amount. Yet she was speeding, which shocked me. Right away I think she cannot be under the influence of marijuana, because she is speeding. That is contrary. She was not. She had such a small amount in her system on the blood testing that there was no way they could prosecute it. But, the cops could smell it.
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