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Frederick R. Remer
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The issues with DUI-marijuana

California is the latest in a number of states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. If you are one of the many people that this legislation benefits, then you may want to keep in mind that the marijuana may be legal, but driving after or while using it remains illegal.

Police can still pull you over on suspicion of impairment. You may pass an alcohol breath test, sure, but you may not pass a field sobriety test. Your behavior may give the officer reason to believe that you are high. As a result, you may find yourself under arrest, but you may want to hold off on pleading guilty just to put an end to the matter.

It's not an exact science

The law enforcement industry has found a way to determine alcohol impairment with some success. Even though errors can occur, the chemical testing does provide reliable results when done properly. The same can't be said for marijuana. It is one of those drugs that remains in your system for some time. For this reason, chemical testing for cannabis isn't an exact science.

Even observing your behavior retains an element of subjectivity. Many departments here in California and elsewhere train certain officers to be drug recognition experts. These officers go through training in order to recognize the signs of drug use, but when it comes down to it, the officer's observations may not be as objective as they should be. In the alternative, the officer making the observations may not have the required training.

Blood tests look for what officials refer to as "active" THC. However, the time that elapses between the traffic stop and the blood draw could make the results of any sample unreliable. At present, roadside testing for drugs remains in its infancy. Police in the state use either a mouth-swab test or something similar to the breath testing machines used for alcohol. After a few minutes, the results may provide probable cause for an arrest and a warrant for a blood test.

It's not an automatic conviction

As you can see, the issues with determining whether you had active THC in your system at the time of a DUI traffic stop make it inadvisable to simply accept your fate. You always retain the right to challenge any charges against you, and that includes charges involving DUI-marijuana. Gaining an understanding of your rights and legal options may be a good first step. Officials may attempt to convince you that you have no options, but that may not be true.

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