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
- 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.