Now that marijuana is legal in California, a common question that our law firm receives is about the legal limit above which you cannot drive with Marijuana in your system, which can be considered DUI.
California does not have a legal limit for driving under the influence of Marijuana. While almost 100 years of alcohol testing provided law enforcement, and the judicial system, with at first a .20% alcohol level, and then a .16% alcohol level, and the current .08% blood alcohol level for driving under the influence cases, (and, as you may know, the law is considering a reduction to a .05% limit for driving under the influence), marijuana was illegal for decades, which made testing an ethical problem.
What is the DUI level for Marijuana in California? There is not one, but in the absence of state law in California setting a legal limit, prosecutors in Orange County consider the presence of marijuana (THC), or its metabolites in the blood or urine, to show that there is proof of illegal driving. Many crime labs only do a presumptive test for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and leave it to the defense to retest the blood or urine and find out whether or not there is, as a quantitative matter, enough THC to impair driving.
Marijuana affects the body much differently than alcohol, however. Alcohol is hydrophilic, and bonds to the water molecule, and goes throughout the blood and wherever water is in the body. THC and CBD, the active molecules in marijuana, are fat soluble and are generally activated by heat.
In Colorado, the state has decided to create a legal limit of 5 nanograms. This legal limit, however, is not based upon any scientific tests, or impairment testing. The limit of detection for THC is 1 or 2 nanograms, and so 5 nanograms are near the very limit of what can be detected and tested.
As you may have heard, or know, THC stays in the body for a long time – up to 30 days, and can be detected in hair follicle testing. There seems to be a difference in chronic marijuana users, which have THC in their body for a longer period of time, and more light or recreational users, which can have the THC metabolite leave the body within 8 hours.
As our Orange County DUI Attorney has mentioned with Orange County Drug DUI cases, the Orange County DA’s office has a team of specially trained drug DUI prosecutors. They take even marijuana cases involving driving very seriously. So what is the DUI level for Marijuana in California? There is none, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prosecuted for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Contact our firm if you need help with a drug DUI case. We can help.