California has joined the growing number of states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. If you are like many people here in the state, you decided to take advantage of this new law for a variety of reasons. After all, the medicinal uses of this drug are well known. Even though you don't need to use it for medical reasons, you wonder whether it could improve your health anyway, or perhaps you just like the way it makes you feel and enjoy it.
Regardless of your reasons, you no longer have to worry about state authorities arresting you for recreational marijuana use. However, you should know that it is still illegal to drive while high.
Is drugged driving that big of a problem?
You should know that even though California police may not arrest you for recreational use of marijuana, the federal government continues to consider it an illegal drug. For this reason, it continues to be included under the category of illegal drugs in data gathered by federal agencies. Keep this in mind for the data discussed below.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugged driving is a significant problem. In 2017, somewhere around 12.8 million people got behind the wheel after using illicit drugs, which included marijuana. Among those who lost their lives in accidents in 2016, around 50.5% had at least two drugs in their systems at the time. That is a large number of people driving after taking or using drugs.
If you become one of those millions this year
Even if you do your best to stay out of your car when you have used marijuana, mistakes happen. If police pulled you over and suspected you of impairment, you could end up under arrest. Though there may not yet be a roadside test to determine whether you have enough marijuana in your system to accuse you of drugged driving, other testing after your arrest could reveal whether you have an impairing amount of the drug in your system at the time of your arrest.
Like those accused of drunk driving, you may want to take any charges you face seriously. The repercussions go well beyond potential fines and other penalties if convicted. A DUI on your record, whether it involves drugs or alcohol, could affect your personal and professional lives as well, especially if you drive for a living. You would benefit greatly from obtaining an understanding of your rights and legal options as soon as possible.