Does The Chemical Test For Marijuana In A California DUI Investigation Show A Level Of Impairment? What About People Who Are Users Every Day?
In California, when these tests are given, they will basically do a screening test to see what’s in your system. If they see marijuana or some other type of drug, they will then send it off for another test to determine how much of the drug is in your system. Very often they’ll charge these crimes even if it’s a prescription drug when they find an amount in your system.
In drug cases, they’re looking for different things. They’re looking for active marijuana, which is what impairs a driver. If the amount of the drug is very low, sometimes they won’t go forward. They’re more likely to dismiss a case once they find out how low it is. But, if someone has a certain amount in their system, then they’re most likely going to move forward with the prosecution. And the problem that exists is that most attorneys don’t know how to fight marijuana DUI cases because they don’t understand the science. Attorneys call me all the time asking for help with what the numbers and abbreviations mean, and about impairment. For years, I have gone to conferences all over the country that involve drug and marijuana DUI cases. There’s a lot to it. It’s a very inexact science. And actually, sometimes you can get a false positive because the active number that shows up can be from marijuana that’s been in your system for a while, but it’s really not leading to the impairment because it’s something you smoked days or weeks ago. Marijuana can be stored in your body, especially for habitual smokers. If you’re a habitual smoker, you’re going to have a lot more stored, and it will more likely show up on these tests. Now, if you smoked recently, especially within the last minutes to half hour, the number is going to be much higher. Therefore, the more you smoke, the higher the number is going to be. And so, I’ve had a number of cases where clients smoked a few minutes right before getting pulled over, and their numbers were through the roof. Those are more difficult cases to win because the scientists can testify about what the numbers mean. Even though there isn’t a per se number for marijuana in California, there is in other states. Some states say that any amount of marijuana or illegal drug in your system is basically a per se and it’s considered being under the influence. That’s pretty scary stuff. It really is because that person may not even be close to being impaired. They may not even be feeling any drug effect, and yet, in some of these states, they can be arrested and convicted for something that they didn’t do, which is just wrong.
If A Blood Test Cannot Prove That Someone Was Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana, What Other Evidence Do Police Typically Look For To Prove It?
If a police officer wants to prove that someone was driving under the influence of marijuana, they will start with the driving. They’ll explain why they pulled someone over. Sometimes it’s seeing smoke coming out of the window while the person is driving down the street, noticing erratic driving, or witnessing a vehicle code violation. Once, the driver is pulled over, they want to take a look at their eyes. They want to see if their eyes are bloodshot or watery. They want to hear their speech, and determine if it is slurred or slow. If it’s suspicion of marijuana, they’ll talk about green tongue, which is the most bogus thing ever about marijuana impairment or signs of marijuana. No one has a green tongue. Also, other things like the way they walk, their balance, ability to respond to questions, and ability to multitask when they’re doing tests, are all used by the officer to try to show how their slow reactions or inability to follow directions shows impairment. However, it is mostly indicative that the driver in these cases is scared out of their mind. They’re nervous. They’re freaking out because they were pulled over. Maybe they smoked marijuana three or four hours ago, and they’re not impaired or affected by the marijuana, they’re just scared. They could be worried because they’re thinking that they could lose their job. All of these things can affect a person’s ability and reactions. Moreover, they have to deal with the cops, cameras, and overhead lights, loudspeakers, guns, and other people watching as they do the field sobriety tests. Again, all of these things can make someone very nervous and act out of character. Unfortunately, the officers look for all the things that they say and do wrong in order to help them get better evidence and subsequently a conviction.
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