California’s marijuana laws have evolved significantly over the past two decades, and today, cannabis is legal not only for medical use but also for recreational consumption for adults over 21. However, the legality of marijuana has caused many legal issues when it comes to cases involving driving under the influence (DUI). Despite the fact that marijuana is now legal for adults over 21 to consume and the effects of marijuana are well-documented as less harmful than alcohol, many police officers in West Covina and throughout California continue to treat marijuana similarly to alcohol when it comes to DUI arrests.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI for marijuana, it’s vital to speak with an experienced West Covina marijuana DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your legal team can help you challenge the prosecution’s case and assist you in avoiding the substantial penalties that often follow DUI convictions in California. It’s vital to understand the value of legal representation in this situation.
Many people believe they can navigate their legal cases on their own without the assistance of an attorney. In reality, attempting to handle your own representation is a bad idea, even if you know you did nothing wrong. Marijuana DUI continues to exist in a legal grey area. Navigating the complex case law surrounding marijuana DUI in California is extremely difficult for an individual with no formal legal training or professional legal experience.
Some people are tempted to accept legal counsel from a public defender instead of hiring private defense attorneys to represent them. A public defender is available free of charge, and most public defenders are committed and capable attorneys. However, you cannot expect the same level of personalized representation from a public defender that you could expect from a private defense attorney.
Most public defenders handle many cases at a time, and your public defender may only be able to devote an hour or two each day to your case. At the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores, Attorney Flores and his team will provide comprehensive, client-focused representation and help you exercise every defense available to you in your situation.
Many people in California have medical reasons for consuming marijuana, while many others consume it recreationally. Adults over 21 may use cannabis for their own purposes as long as they adhere to the applicable laws. For example, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in California while under the influence of marijuana regardless of the reason for consumption. This means that even if you have a medical need to use cannabis, you are not allowed to drive while under the influence.
The main problem with this logic is that it is much harder to determine whether a person is under the influence of marijuana than it is to determine whether they are under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana is metabolized very slowly, but the initial inebriating effects typically only last for a few hours. It’s possible for a person to consume cannabis in the morning and be perfectly sober in the afternoon. However, the marijuana they consumed will remain detectable in their system for much longer.
Biochemistry plays a major role in many marijuana DUI cases. When you hire a West Covina marijuana DUI defense attorney to represent you, they should have a firm understanding of the biochemistry of cannabis metabolization, as this will play a crucial role in your defense. The psychoactive compound found in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which metabolizes into 11-hydroxy-THC, an active and psychoactive compound. Within a few hours of consumption, the 11-hydroxy-THC further metabolizes into 11-nor-9-car-boxy-THC, a non-psychoactive metabolite. If your chemical test reveals the presence of just 11-nor-9-car-boxy-THC, then you are not “impaired” by psychoactive substances any longer.
Unfortunately, the police typically consider any THC derivatives as evidence of impairment. Additionally, arresting officers may use shaky evidence to establish probable cause, such as the driver having bloodshot eyes. While this symptom is commonly associated with cannabis use, it is not a definitive sign that the driver is under the influence of cannabis. When you work with an experienced West Covina marijuana DUI defense attorney, you can rest assured they will challenge not only the circumstances of your arrest but also the grounds on which the arresting officers established probable cause and the validity of any chemical testing used.
While marijuana is not as harmful or as impairing as alcohol, California law prescribes significant penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. A first-time conviction for marijuana DUI carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail, fines up to $1,000, up to five years of probation, and suspension of your driver’s license for up to three months. The court may also require you to attend DUI school or mandatory drug and alcohol counseling. These penalties increase with subsequent convictions within the next ten years.
It is unfortunately too common that people who have followed California cannabis laws face criminal prosecution unfairly due to the nebulous nature of marijuana chemical testing and the aggressiveness of law enforcement in pursuing convictions. If you are arrested for marijuana DUI in West Covina, a marijuana DUI defense attorney is your best asset in fighting the charges you face and avoiding the severe penalties that conviction entails.
Time is a critical factor when you are facing any kind of criminal charges. Expediency in securing legal representation will help to ensure the freshness and preservability of material evidence and provides the best chance of forming an affirmative defense against the charges you face. Marijuana DUI cases can easily seem hopeless when you consider the role chemical testing plays in charging and convicting drivers with marijuana DUI, but a seasoned defense attorney like Attorney Daniel Flores can help you challenge the prosecution’s case and prove your innocence.
If you or a loved one have recently been arrested for marijuana DUI, speaking with a West Covina marijuana DUI defense attorney as soon as possible is essential. Contact the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores today and schedule a case evaluation with our team. We will review your situation and let you know how our firm can help.
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