DUI: Ignorance Is Not a Defense

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DUI: Ignorance Is Not a Defense

In 2014, Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. At the scene of the traffic stop, the officer reported that Bell said "I didn't know you could get a DUI for being high."

Bell, Blount, and a third passenger were officially charged with misdemeanor marijuana-related offenses, otherwise known as “DUI of drugs.” As their story demonstrates, ignorance is not a valid defense when it comes to driving under the influence of any drug, whether it’s marijuana, LSD, a lawfully prescribed medication, or even an over-the-counter allergy medicine.

Bell told his arresting officer that he had smoked two hours earlier and wasn't high anymore. THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, can stay in the bloodstream anywhere from 1 to 45 days after use.

DUI of Drugs in California

An individual can be charged with DUI of drugs in California if they test positive for marijuana. But, unlike alcohol impairment, there is not a concentration threshold (.08% BAC limit for most California drivers).

According to § 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, "it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle."

Where the DUI laws regarding marijuana can become hairy is "under the influence." What does it mean to be under the influence of marijuana? Clearly, Bell and Blount knew they had gotten high earlier that day, but their excuse when questioned was that they weren't high anymore.

While ignorance is never a defense for any DUI charge, it may be a defense to claim that you were not seriously impaired or under the influence of the drug. This means that, although marijuana was found in your system, you were still able to drive a vehicle at the same level as a sober person would have under the same circumstances.

In order to avoid being convicted of drugged driving, your defense attorney must convince the court that:

  • The chemical test was false, and you didn't have marijuana in your system; or
  • While you did have marijuana in your system, you were not under its influence.

If you were arrested on DUI charges (alcohol or drugs), contact an Orange County DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. We provide free and confidential case evaluations, so call us at (877) DUI-QUEEN.

  • Board Certified Expert

    in DUI Defense

    Chosen as a “Top DUI Attorney” in Orange County & rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo.

    Meet Virginia L. Landry
  • Answers to All of

    Your Questions

    Visit our FAQ page to get answers to some of the most common questions.

    Read Common Questions
  • Get Help

    Immediately

    Don’t wait, time is of the essence. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.

    Get Started Today

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Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. - Orange County DUI Attorney
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