In California and every other state, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Cannabis, like alcohol, impairs the perception, responses, coordination, and judgment needed to drive safely. Or does it? In 1986, the California Department of Justice determined that marijuana impairs abilities related to driving, particularly at high-dose levels and among inexperienced users. However, two subsequent federal studies tend to contradict that 1986 finding. If you are charged in southern California with driving under the influence of marijuana, you’ll need to obtain legal help immediately by contacting an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has conducted research on the effects of alcohol and marijuana, both alone and together, on driver behavior and performance. Although alcohol consistently caused significant impairment, marijuana only had a mild, occasional effect. Accidents and speeding tickets predictably increased with alcohol consumption, but no similar increase was found when drivers had consumed marijuana. A more recent DOT report titled “Marijuana and Actual Performance” found that pot “is not a profoundly impairing drug.”

These two studies indicate that marijuana may impair driving ability very little if at all. Making matters more difficult, blood tests for marijuana cannot distinguish between pot smoked an hour ago and pot smoked a week ago; marijuana traces can remain in the bloodstream days after the effect of intoxication has faded. Nevertheless, if an officer believes you are driving while stoned, you will be arrested.

If you’re accused of marijuana-related DUI or any DUI charge in southern California, speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer immediately. Any DUI charge poses a genuine risk to your future, your freedom, and your finances. A good DUI lawyer will evaluate your case, line up evidence and witnesses, and fight to have your charge reduced or dismissed or to win an acquittal at trial. Protect yourself and your future; if you’re accused of DUI in the southern California area, speak to an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately.