Articles Tagged with marijuana DUI los angeles

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Police in California may soon have a new weapon in their efforts to get DUI drivers off the road. The state legislature is considering authorizing the use of a device that measures levels of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and pain medications (including opiates).marijuana-drug-dui-los-angeles

The push to get the new device approved is apparently in response to a California ballot measure that would authorize the use of recreational marijuana in the state. In an April 6th article, the Los Angeles Times reported that State Senator Bob Huff of San Dimas has authored a bill that permits police to take an oral swab from a DUI suspect and then use a handheld device to test for the presence of marijuana and other controlled substances.

Lawmakers may have good reason to be concerned about the consequences on driving habits if the pot bill passes. The Times article notes a 40 percent increase in positive tests for drugs in drivers killed in crashes in California between 2009 and 2013. It also said that pot-related traffic deaths increased by almost one-third in Colorado in the year after that state legalized recreational pot.

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With the recent passage of a law permitting the use of medical marijuana in California, police officers will soon be dealing with its effects on arrests for DUI in Los Angeles. Will someone using cannabis for medical reasons be able to avoid DUI charges? A recent ruling by Arizona’s Supreme Court has denied medical marijuana users in that state an automatic out on DUI charges.
The Arizona court case stems from an appeal by two women, Kristina Dobson and Marvelle Anderson, arrested for DUI in separate incidents. Police originally charged them under two of Arizona’s DUI statutes. An A1 refers to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a drug—in other words, when impaired. An A3 charge concerns the operation of a motor vehicle when a person has a detectable amount of a drug in their system.a1-los-angeles-DUI

Prosecutors eventually threw out the A1 charges against each woman but won convictions on the A3 charges. The women contested their convictions in Arizona’s appeals court, saying that the medical marijuana statute permitted them to have the drug in their systems. The appeals court ruled against them.

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Police use relatively simple tests to determine whether or not to charge someone with a DUI in Los Angeles. If a motorist’s blood alcohol content measures higher than .08 percent on a breathalyzer or blood test, that person will likely soon be visiting a local detention center.THC-DUI-Los-angeles

But police face more challenging obstacles when it comes to determining whether someone has been driving under the influence of marijuana. According to a recent Fox News report, the way that humans metabolize pot makes it difficult to determine when and how driving impairment occurs. Unlike alcohol, which disappears from the bloodstream after a certain number of hours, the active ingredient in pot—tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—can linger in the bloodstream for days.

Colorado and the State of Washington have dealt with this problem by setting a level of five nanograms of THC per liter of whole blood as the threshold for driving under the influence. (Illinois may be increasing that measurement considerably; the state legislature has passed a bill raising the level of impairment to 15 nanograms.) So far, the testing process has involved measuring blood, urine or saliva samples, but one company, Cabbabix Technologies, may be changing the game. Cabbabix has created a prototype of a pot breathalyzer, according to Fox.

Law enforcement must also reconcile with the fact that no one really understands how pot affects driving. The Fox News report said researchers identified conflicting results in studies on the subject; some studies suggest that marijuana use has little to no impact on how likely someone is to get into a crash. Others suggest that drivers who use pot run a higher likelihood of getting into accidents.

Legislators in each state will need to discuss this question in more depth, as more and more states legalize the use of marijuana.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of motorists driving under the influence of pot has risen 50 percent since 2007.

Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers is standing by to offer critical insight into your case and potential defense options. Call him and his team today to begin regaining control over your case and your life.

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Los Angeles DUI analysts are always keen to follow legal developments in the state of Colorado, which often stands on the “leading edge” of curious new DUI-related developments, legally and culturally.marijuana-DUI-los-angeles-laws

Recently, Colorado passed a statewide law that legalized recreational marijuana use. However, the CO government wants to prevent stoned drivers from causing accidents on Rocky Mountain highways. To that end, the Colorado Department of Transportation just aired a series of TV ads as a part of an ambitious “drive high, get a DUI” safety campaign.

The CDOT campaign is rich with cheeky, gallows humor. One ad features a man trying to put up a TV set, which comes crashing down. The ad copy reads: “installing your TV while high is now legal … driving to get a new one isn’t.”

The Colorado State Patrol’s Chief of Police, Scott Hernandez, emphasized a “safety first” message: “as Coloradoans now have more access to marijuana, we want you to be aware that law enforcement is trained to identify impairment by all categories of drugs and alcohol.”

The CDOT limits blood marijuana to just 5 nanograms of THC (active) per milliliter of blood. A survey from September of last year found that more than one out of five Colorado drivers had driven after consuming or smoking marijuana within a month from when the survey was taken. That’s a crazily alarming statistic.

Advocates on both sides of the debate worry that the 5 nanogram limit may be too hard to enforce. One spokeswoman for the CDOT told USA Today “one hit could put someone over the limit.” Meanwhile, Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, told USA Today “too much evidence suggests that [the 5 nanogram limit] would result in people being unfairly convicted of a DUI when they are not actually impaired.”

In Los Angeles, driving under the influence of drugs can be charged as a crime per CVC Section 23152(a), which defines “under the influence” as an umbrella term — it includes not only alcohol but also drugs like marijuana, prescription narcotics, illegal drugs, and over-the-counter medications.

Authorities cannot use a breath test to measure the presence of marijuana or other drugs. Instead, they give suspected drivers urine or blood tests. Juries then examine these chemical analyses to determine guilt and sentencing.

For help defending against a Los Angeles DUI drug charge, call attorney Michael Kraut today with the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers. Mr. Kraut has an excellent reputation; he served as a prosecutor for 14 years before working with defendants, so he really understands how prosecutors act and think.
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