Though Californians can legally use marijuana recreationally, driving while high is against the law. This is just like how state law deals with alcohol. But unlike with alcohol, there is no device that can accurately measure how much THC is in a driver’s system — or, more importantly, how impaired by cannabis they are.
The struggle to enforce the law without a way of obtaining much actual evidence of guilt is a nationwide problem as more and more states legalize weed. Even the equivalent of field sobriety tests that supposedly detect if someone is too high to drive has been debunked by multiple scientific studies.
Doubts over ‘drug recognition experts’
This has not stopped lawmakers from trying, however. Late last year, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts proposed a bill that would rely on police trained as so-called “drug recognition experts” to arrest allegedly impaired motorists. Observers believe the bill has little chance of passing because of doubts over whether drug recognition expert training actually helps officers accurately detect THC impairment.
Alcohol and THC don’t affect the body the same way
It’s true that being high can impair your ability to drive safely, just as drinking and driving can. But unlike alcohol, signs of cannabis use stay in your body hours or even days after you last used it — well past the point your high has faded away. Thus, a THC breath test device would often produce inaccurate results. And field sobriety tests can be questionable enough when it comes to alcohol impairment, let alone marijuana.
That does not mean that San Diego police might not arrest you on drugged driving charges anyway. You could face serious charges even though you were completely sober behind the wheel. With a proper defense strategy, you would hopefully get an unfair drugged driving charge dismissed or defeated at trial.