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Understanding cannabis DUI laws in California

Dec 5, 2023 | DUI

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal in California. The state has developed ways to measure motorist use of THC (the plant’s psychoactive compound).

Motorists should know the laws about cannabis-related DUI to stay safe and avoid serious legal consequences.

Zero tolerance for underage drivers

California has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers younger than 21 who operate a vehicle under the influence of cannabis. Even trace amounts of THC in their system can result in legal consequences. Convicted individuals can receive fines and suspension of their driving privileges.

DUI threshold for adults

For drivers 21 and older, the state has a legal threshold for cannabis impairment. The law prohibits driving with a blood THC concentration of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter. Exceeding this limit may lead to DUI charges, fines and license suspension.

Field sobriety tests

Law enforcement officers may conduct field sobriety tests if they suspect a driver is under the influence of cannabis. These tests assess physical and cognitive impairment to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest.

If an officer arrests you for suspected cannabis DUI, you may have to undergo blood or urine testing to measure THC levels. Refusing these tests can lead to additional penalties such as license suspension.

Penalties for cannabis DUI

Consequences for cannabis DUI in California may include fines, probation, mandatory attendance at DUI education programs and potential jail time. You can also lose your driving privileges. The state Office of Traffic Safety reports that the average DUI conviction costs $13,500.

The severity of penalties depends on factors such as the level of impairment, prior offenses and harm caused to others. California imposes enhanced penalties for individuals with multiple cannabis-related DUI offenses.

Drivers should be aware of these laws and make informed decisions to avoid the legal repercussions associated with cannabis DUI.