Is it Illegal to Drive While High in California?

Since the use of recreational marijuana was legalized in California on January 1, 2018, many people have questions about the legality of driving while high. Is it illegal to drive under the effects of marijuana in California?

The short answer is yes, it is. But while the laws surrounding high driving echo those of DUI laws, there are some key differences you, as a driver, should be aware of. Driving under the influence of any substance in California is illegal, and understanding your rights as a driver is key to ensuring that you act responsibly and stay off the roads while under the influence of any drug.

At The Law Office of Amy Chapman, we are dedicated to representing your best legal interests with knowledge, compassion and integrity, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding driving while high in California.

What are the Consequences of Driving while High?

Drunk drivers are responsible for at least 25 percent of motor vehicle fatalities, and many drivers who are pulled over for erratic or reckless driving also test positive for cannabis. Because each person’s body metabolizes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) differently, the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana may present more strongly in some individuals than others.

Factors that affect how “high” someone may become include THC tolerance, differences in smoking/ingestion techniques (such as traditional smoking vs. consuming edibles) as well as the differences in marijuana strains consumed. For example, while a “sativa” strain may acutely increase awareness in some users, it can also increase the prevalence of paranoid or erratic behavior in others.

With regards to the legal consequences of driving high, it is a crime to drive under the influence of any substance that impairs a driver’s ability to recognize and respond quickly to any threats to the safety of themselves, other drivers and pedestrians on the road. The following is outlined in California’s Vehicle Code:

DUI Offense (Drugs and/or Alcohol)Possible Penalties
1st DUI6 months jail and/or $390-$1000 fine and/or 3-9 months DUI school and/or 6-10 months suspended license
2nd DUI96 hours-1 year jail and/or $390-$1000 fine and/or 18-30 months DUI school and/or 2 years suspended license
3rd DUI120 days-1 year jail and/or $390-$1000 fine and/or 30 months DUI school and/or 3 years revoked license
Misdemeanor DUI with Injury5 days-1 year jail and/or $390-$5000 fine (plus compensation to injured parties) and/or 3-30 months DUI school and/or 1-3 years revoked license
Felony DUI16 months-3 years state prison and/or $390-$1000 fine and/or 18-30 months DUI school and/or 4 years revoked license
Felony DUI with Injury16 months-16 years state prison and/or $1015-$5000 fine (plug compensation to injured parties) and/or 18-30 months DUI school and/or 5 years revoked license


How Reliable are Chemical Marijuana Tests?

There is no legal standard or limit for how much marijuana is “too much” to drive. While a chemical test—administered as a blood or urine sample—can be used to prove if a driver is driving under the influence of marijuana, it is not the only way to indicate if a person is driving while high.

These chemical tests are not without fault. Unlike how a breathalyzer can indicate current blood-alcohol content levels, conventional marijuana tests can only identify if marijuana is present in a person’s body. It cannot indicate reliably when marijuana was last used, nor can it indicate how much was used.

Due to these faults, there are a number of non-chemical ways officers will use to determine if a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. These may include:

  • The defendant’s driving pattern;
  • The defendant’s manner of speaking towards an office;
  • The defendant’s performance on Field Sobriety Tests (or refusal to participate in them);
  • The presence of marijuana or paraphernalia in the defendant’s car or on their person; and
  • Physical symptoms of intoxication, including dilated pupils, rapid breathing/heart rate, marijuana odor, red eyes and slowed reaction time;

What if I have Been Wrongfully Accused of Driving While High?

Because of the general unreliability of conventional marijuana tests, there may come a time where you are wrongfully accused of driving while high. Perhaps you tested positive for cannabis in a blood test, when in reality you were completely sober at the time of being pulled over.

Barring any other unsafe driving practices punishable by a misdemeanor or felony, you may be able to have your marijuana-related driving offense dismissed if the prosecution cannot prove that you were intoxicated at the time of your traffic incident.

The Law Office of Amy Chapman has an extensive understanding of California’s DUI laws, especially as they pertain to marijuana use after Proposition 64. We are fully committed to providing the legal assistance you need—especially during a wrongful accusation—to allow you to maintain your driving record and avoid costly fees and potential jail time. If you or a loved one has been wrongfully accused of driving while intoxicated under the effects of cannabis, contact us today to discuss your legal options.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in California?

The answer to the question of “Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in California?” is, simply, yes.

Amy Chapman Law Police DUI CheckpointAccording to California’s Vehicle Code, “A driver of a motor vehicle shall stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint inspection conducted by a law enforcement agency when signs and displays are posted requiring that stop.”

As simple of an answer as “yes” may be, it becomes slightly complicated when the legal guidelines and procedures of a DUI checkpoint, otherwise known as a “sobriety checkpoint,” must be considered.

At The Law Office of Amy Chapman, we understand the importance of knowing your rights in any situation, especially on the road. Because of this, we’ve outlined important details and answered common questions you may have about DUI checkpoints in order to ensure that the law is being followed by all parties involved.

How Will I Know When and Where a DUI Checkpoint Is?

Learning about a DUI checkpoint in the digital age is easier than ever, and official releases from law enforcement agencies often outline when and where sobriety roadblocks will occur. While advance public notice of upcoming checkpoints is ­not required, posting adequate notice of roadblocks as they are occurring is.

In short, this means that you may not find out about a DUI checkpoint until you come upon it on the road. Police department websites, local newspapers and news websites, and local TV news stations are often your best source to finding out about DUI checkpoints prior to driving.

Amy Chapman Law Office Santa Rosa DUI Checkpoints

What Should I Expect at a DUI Checkpoint?

In general, a DUI checkpoint consists of a brief discussion with an officer to determine if you are driving while intoxicated. The interaction typically begins with rolling down the window and being asked for your driver’s license and registration.

More specifically, the officer conducting the test will be looking to see:

  • If you fumble or have trouble providing your license and registration;
  • If you smell like alcohol;
  • If you have trouble or hesitate in answering the officer’s questions;
  • If there are any alcoholic beverages, drugs or paraphernalia in the vehicle; or
  • If you exhibit slurred speech, red/watery eyes, or any other sign of physical impairment.

If a driver exhibits signs of impairment, further investigation may ensue as a result. This can lead to being required to perform a California DUI field sobriety test (FST) or a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) breathalyzer test.

Based on the results from these tests, you may be arrested if there is probable cause that you are:

  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC) ;
  • Driving with a BAC of .08 or greater (Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC); or
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) (Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC).

Can I Legally Avoid or Refuse a DUI Checkpoint?

It is possible to avoid a DUI Checkpoint entirely by turning around and/or taking a different route—provided it is done so in a safe and legal manner. Legal DUI Checkpoints are required to post sufficient warning to drivers regarding lane closures due to DUI checkpoints, allowing drivers to bypass them altogether should they chose.

Normal traffic laws must still be obeyed when circumventing a DUI checkpoint, and you are still liable to being pulled over if you commit a traffic violation, have a vehicular defect (i.e. a broken headlight), or display signs of obvious intoxicated driving.

Once you are at a checkpoint, however, Vehicle Code 28.14.2(a) VC requires that all drivers stop and submit to these checkpoints. Refusing to comply with the officer’s instructions will likely lead to an infraction.

Amy Chapman Law Office Santa Rosa DUI Checkpoints and the Fourth Amendment

DUI Checkpoints and the Fourth Amendment

As part of our Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states that individuals are protected against “unreasonable searches and seizures” of property by the government. In contemporary times, this amendment has expanded to protect individuals from stop-and-frisk searches, wiretaps and other forms of surveillance without probable cause.

Some have argued that certain discriminatory checkpoint practices can constitute a search without reason. Therefore, interpretation of the Fourth Amendment becomes complicated when the implications of a DUI checkpoint are brought into question.

In general, the legal requirements for California DUI checkpoints (in compliance with both the US Constitution and the California Constitution) are:

  • Supervising officers must make all operational decisions;
  • The criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral (i.e. non-discriminatory);
  • The checkpoint must be reasonably located;
  • Adequate safety precautions must be taken;
  • The checkpoint’s time and duration should reflect “good judgment”;
  • The checkpoint must exhibit sufficient indicia (such as proper signage) of its official nature;
  • Drivers should be detained for a minimal amount of time; and
  • Roadblocks should be publicly advertised in advance.

I Believe I Encountered an Illegal DUI Checkpoint, or Was Wrongfully Charged. Now What?

Should a DUI checkpoint fail to meet Federal or State Constitutional guidelines, utilize discriminatory practices in stopping vehicles/drivers, or should investigations be conducted in an unsafe or unreasonable manner, then they may be considered illegal (and possibly, a violation of the Fourth Amendment). As a driver, you have the right to challenge the legality of a DUI checkpoint in court.

There are times where lines are crossed and harsh sentences are made, leading to legal concerns over a tarnished driving record should these charges not be dismissed.

Your safety and wellbeing are our number one concern.

California’s New Gun Control Laws – What You Need to Know

On August 28, 2018, the California Senate passed a new gun control law (AB-2888) which permits the requesting of gun restraining orders against individuals who display violent behavior. In addition, with three additional new gun control bills targeting those convicted of domestic violence and/or those placed on involuntary psychiatric holds, substantial changes in California’s gun laws are expected pending the approval of Governor Jerry Brown.

At The Law Office of Amy Chapman, we strive to ensure that our clients understand their legal rights to owning firearms, and how this new legislation may affect them. We’ve outlined the major changes that are set to occur under these four new gun control bills. How will these gun control laws change preexisting laws? Are your rights as a legal gun owner threatened? We hope to address some of your questions and concerns below.

AB-2888 – Gun Restraining Orders

Assembly Bill 2888 amends Sections 18150, 18170 and 18190 of the Penal Code and authorizes a court to issue an ex parte gun violence restraining order against any subject of a petition who poses a significant danger of harm to themselves or to others. These restraining orders can last indefinitely or for a year, and may be renewed through petition.

An immediate family member, employer, coworker, teacher or law enforcement officer may file a petition requesting an ex parte gun violence restraining order from the court. Those who are issued a restraining order under this new gun law are prohibited from having any firearm or ammunition on their person, and are also prohibited from owning, purchasing, possessing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition as well.

AB-3129 – Lifetime Gun Ban for Those Convicted of Domestic Violence Misdemeanor

Although federal law imposes a similar lifetime ban for those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, California’s existing state law has been much more lenient, only imposing a 10-year firearm ban up until this point. Assembly Bill 3129 amends Section 29805 of the Penal Code and imposes a lifetime ban on firearm possession those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense.

The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%—a chilling statistic that emphasizes the need to ensure the protection of domestic violence victims and survivors. With this new bill, proposed by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), we share Rubio’s hope in that AB-3129 will help guarantee the safety of domestic violence victims in the long-term.

AB-1968 – Lifetime Gun Bans for Those Placed on Involuntary Psychiatric Hold Twice in a Year

Existing California law states that any person admitted to a designated mental health facility for posing a danger to self or others must not possess a gun for 5 years following release. Assembly Bill 1968 amends, repeals and adds to Section 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code that any person placed on involuntary psychiatric hold twice in a year (due to the risk of harm to self or others) may now face a lifetime ban on owning firearms.

Proposed by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), this bill would also allow patients to petition the court at a later date to have their gun ban lifted upon proving to the court that they intend to own and use a firearm in a “safe and lawful manner.”

AB-2103 – Increased Requirements to Acquiring Carry Concealed Weapon Permits

The requirements for the acquisition of Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits in California have traditionally varied by both city and county law, but most often have granted permits on the grounds of an applicant’s “good moral character” and a general training course—as is the case in Sonoma County.

Assembly Bill 2103 bolsters both local and state requirements to acquire a CCW permit, and would entail that applicants receive at least 8 hours of specializes training on firearm safety, handling and technique. In addition, applicants will be required to pass a live-fire shooting test on a firing range to demonstrate that they can both handle and fire a gun safely.

Contact an Experienced California Firearms Attorney

As long as the Second Amendment stands, guns and firearms will always be at the center of legal reform across both state and federal jurisdictions. These four new bills have already seen some pushback from anti-regulation gun owners, but many more look to them as a way of guaranteeing the safety of as many of our state’s citizens in the long-term as possible.

California’s gun laws are not perfect, but they have provided an example of how effective gun laws can create a safer community for all residents—gun-owners or not. If you have any questions regarding the new changes in firearms law in the state of California, The Law Office of Amy Chapman is happy to provide answers. Contact us today for a free consultation.

California Gun Law Guide

What are California Gun Laws?

Owning a gun is a privilege granted by virtue of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, but understanding California specific gun laws is a slightly more complicated matter. Being convicted of a firearm charge in California can carry a number of permanent consequences, including the inability to legally own guns and the loss of job and housing opportunities.

With the recent stream of never-ending controversy surrounding the country’s gun laws, it is now more important than ever to understand exactly what your legal rights to gun ownership are.
At The Law Office of Amy Chapman, our knowledge California’s firearm laws has allowed us to explore a number of legal and technical defenses related to firearm charges and weapon laws, and we have committed ourselves to helping residents understand California’s gun laws to do our part in creating a safer state for all.

What are the Differences in California’s Gun Laws Versus Federal Gun Laws?

Because the right to bear arms is a fundamental right for US citizens, many take this to mean that owning a gun is as simple as going out to buy one from a licensed firearms vendor.

This is far from the truth, however, and doing so can result in hefty fines, firearm seizure and harsh legal repercussions down the road. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and understanding the difference between federal guidelines and California-specific guidelines is critical in making the decision to buy, possess or carry a gun on one’s person in the state.

Some of the major differences between federal and state guidelines in firearm law are as follows:

Waiting PeriodA ten-day waiting period is required before a firearm can be released to a buyer or transferee.No waiting period. A background check may be required, and so long as it does not take longer than three business days to complete, it is legal to immediately transfer firearms to a buyer or transferee.
Assault WeaponsBanned in California.Legal.
Purchase LimitOnly one handgun can be purchased in a 30-day period. No limit on rifles or shotguns.No purchase limit.
RegistrationFirearm ownership must be registered the California DOJ within 60 days of residency.None.
Concealed Carry PermitPermit required; a permit issued in one jurisdiction allows concealed carry anywhere in the state.None.
Purchasing a FirearmAll sales and transfers of firearms, including private and/or gun show transactions, must be made through a licensed dealer under the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) process.Transactions between unlicensed private parties in the same state do not require documentation. However, purchasing firearms across state lines require transfer to a federal firearms licensee in the buyer’s state.


I Own a Legally Purchased Gun, and Wish to Apply for a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) License

If you own a legally purchased gun, information on obtaining a CCW license typically be found by contacting your county sheriff’s office (or city police department, if applicable). These departments are well-equipped to not only answer any questions you may have, but to also provide a copy of CCW license policy and application as well.

Residents of Sonoma County can find information regarding the CCW license on the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office website. In order to qualify, applicants must meet certain requirements, including:

• Be a resident of unincorporated Sonoma County or the cities of Windsor, Sonoma, Cloverdale, Cotati or Healdsburg;
• Be at least 21 years of age;
Complete a DOJ application;
• Be free of criminal convictions that would disqualify the applicant from CCW licensure;
• Be of good moral character, and provide at least three characters of character reference;
• Show good cause to receive CCW licensure;
• Pay all associated application fees—in California, this is a non-refundable $47 fee;
• Be free from any psychological conditions that may affect applicant suitability; and
Complete any required training.

Who is Prohibited from Owning or Possessing Firearms in California?

The California DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms provides a thorough list* of those who cannot lawfully own a gun, as dictated by both state and federal guidelines. People who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms in California generally fall into one of two categories:

• Those who are indefinitely prohibited from lawfully owning or possessing a firearm. For example:
o Any person convicted of a state or federal felony; and
o Any person who, in a court of law, is found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness, mental incompetence to stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity or is addicted to a narcotic drug.

• Those who are prohibited from lawfully owning or possessing a firearm for ten years after receiving a misdemeanor violation. For example:
o Criminal possession of a firearm; and
o Bringing or possessing a loaded firearm within the state capitol, legislative offices, upon or within the grounds of a public school and/or a public space.
o Domestic violence
o Battery

*The Bureau of Firearms’ guide to Firearms Prohibiting Categories is for informational purposes only, and may not inclusive of all firearms prohibiting categories in California. Contacting an experienced California firearms lawyer may be necessary for specific legal clarification.

Are California’s Gun Laws Effective in Reducing Gun Violence?

Laws surrounding guns and firearms—both in California and across the country—are a constant opportunity for legal reform. California consistently ranks as one of the top safest states for firearm safety across the country, proving how improving the legal structure around guns and firearms can yield positive results without necessarily infringing upon a citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms.

Thanks to California’s strict gun laws, substantial strides have been taken to not only reduce firearm-related fatalities, but to also combat illegal firearms trafficking and allow firearm seizure from prohibited persons. Between 1992 and 2014, California saw at least a 58 percent decrease in firearm-related deaths, compared to the 27 percent national decrease during that same period.

Contact an Experienced California Firearms Attorney

As long as the Second Amendment stands, guns and firearms will always be at the center of legal reform across both state and federal jurisdictions. California’s gun laws are not perfect, but they have provided an example of how effective gun laws can create a safer community for all residents—gun-owners or not.

If you require any legal advice or representation for cases regarding guns and firearms in the state of California, The Law Office of Amy Chapman is happy to provide answers. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Discounted Uber Rides for Super Bowl Sunday

Discounted Super Bowl Uber Rides

When it comes to having a night out, it helps when someone has your back. Committed to community support and your personal coverage, Amy Chapman is proud to once again offer discounted Uber rides for Super Bowl riders on February 4, 2018. The Law Office of Amy Chapman will offer support on Super Bowl Sunday for $200 worth of Uber rides for customers between 2pm and 10pm. The first 40 people to sign up will each receive a coupon code for $5 off their Uber ride.

Super Bowl Sunday Accidents

A five-year study found that the likelihood of being in an accident with an intoxicated driver on Super Bowl Sunday is nearly double that of a normal Sunday, according to the LA Times. “Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest one-day sporting event in the United States and unfortunately one of the most dangerous days on California’s roads and highways,” says state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

In 2016, 360 DUI-related arrests were made on Super Bowl Sunday across the state of California, the second-highest number of DUI-related arrests made on any given day during that year. Thanks to ongoing efforts to keep intoxicated drivers off the road, the overall amount of fatalities due to drunk driving has fallen over time.

Despite this, the danger posed by intoxicated individuals operating motorized vehicles exists, and pedestrians are advised to use caution when making Super Bowl plans and driving arrangements. With a 70% increase in motor vehicle collisions in the first hour after the Super Bowl, drivers are encouraged to use caution and good judgment and, if possible, utilize a discounter Uber ride if they plan to drink.

If you witness a friend or family member trying to drive while intoxicated, stop them and help them call an Uber home—the cost of getting home safely is much less than that of getting into a potentially fatal accident.

Community and Well-Being First

Uber is a reliable, well-known rideshare service that serves over 40 million people monthly. The Law Office of Amy Chapman cautions drivers that the results of driving under the influence can be deadly to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. Your health, safety, and legal security can be compromised due to one person’s decision, and calling an Uber on Super Bowl Sunday can help reduce the risk of injury or death.

When making plans this Super Bowl Sunday, consider utilizing a rideshare service such as Uber. Hundreds of people have been injured or lost their lives due to DUI-related incidents in previous years, and Amy Chapman’s goal is to ensure that individuals celebrating the Super Bowl stay safe at every part of the night. With careful planning and smart decision-making, we can help make your Super Bowl Sunday the safest it has ever been. Simply fill out the form below to receive a discount code. The codes will be mailed to you prior to the game. The first 40 people to sign up will each receive a coupon code for $5 off their Uber ride.

Discounted Uber Rides

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