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TOUGHER LAWS AHEAD FOR DUI CANNABIS?

Without argument, DUI laws have become increasingly harsher. The recent passage of Proposition 64, which has legalized recreational marijuana use, has our lawmakers now scrambling to toughen Driving Under the Influence laws.

 

These new proposed laws go beyond the current Vehicle Code 23152(e), which states that an individual is guilty of DUI if driving a motor vehicle while one's mental abilities are impaired by marijuana, to the extent that one is unable to drive with the caution of a sober person using ordinary care.

 

The fact is that the current state of research on the effects of marijuana on the ability to drive is incomplete. There are a number of studies indicating little or no discernable difference in drivers who had smoked versus those who had not.  Clearly the federal government's categorization of marijuana as a “Class A” controlled substance “having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use” has limited the opportunities for research. The bottom line is that the government seems to be rushing to establish criminal limits without first confirming cannabis' effects.

 

There are currently six (6) bills in the California legislature, most concerning Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis. These bills have not yet been passed and are undergoing hearings, with arguments both for and against.

 

One such bill, SB 65, would increase the penalty for smoking while driving to a misdemeanor. Currently, under Proposition 64, the penalty is an infraction…the same level as a speeding ticket or sign violation. Passage of this bill would mean that an individual, even with no signs of impairment, would be subject to criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor. This can expose one to the  possibility of fines and jail, and most importantly, a criminal record!

 

Another bill, SB 698, would establish a “per se” standard of 5 nanograms if the driver is also found to have a Blood Alcohol Content of between .04 -.07%. Simply put, the government is reaching to set a standard that an individual below the legal alcohol limit of .08% who has a small amount of cannabis (5 nanograms or more) would be subject to misdemeanor prosecution.

 

My opinion and experience is that neither prosecutors nor their criminalists can definitively prove that all individuals are affected the same by cannabis.  Cannabis affects regular users differently than occasional recreational users.

 

While I have successfully represented numerous individuals accused of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol, drugs or their combined use, my recommendation is that usage of any substance that can cause impairment be avoided while driving.

 

David Welch

First and foremost, Attorney David Welch is an experienced litigator. With over two decades of experience handling hundreds of cases, he prides himself on his zealous representation of his clients. While most cases do not proceed to trial, his record of success enables him fearlessly advocate through negotiations or, if necessary, jury trial. Attorney Welch received his Bachelor's degree from San Diego State University and his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law located in San Diego, California. Since 1995, he has developed an extensive background in criminal law as well as in civil litigation. He has handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from DUI and juvenile matters to domestic violence, white collar crimes, sex crimes and violent crimes. His clients have included professionals such as nurses, doctors, teachers, military personnel in all branches of the US Military. David A. Welch is licensed to practice law in the State of California as well as the United States District Court. He has established a strong presence throughout Southern California Courts. Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice: California State Bar, 1995 American Bar Association, 1995 California Courts (Includes California Superior, Appeals and Supreme Courts), 1995 U.S. District Court, 1996 Professional & Bar Association Memberships State Bar of California DUI Defense Lawyers Association National College of DUI Defense Member Since: 2008 Litigation Percentage 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation Practice Areas DUI Defense Criminal Defense Manslaughter Hate Crimes Fraud Crimes Sex Crimes Stalking Weapons Charges Juvenile Crimes Misdemeanor and Felony Expungement Certificate of Rehabilitation Governor Pardons

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