All You Need To Know About DUI Marijuana Law In California

MJLegal is published by the MJBA.

CALIFORNIA: On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 was passed in the state of California, legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana. On January 1, 2018, this law came into effect.

According to Proposition 64, any person aged 21 and over may purchase, possess and consume up to an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis or up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, and they may also grow up to 6 marijuana plants at their private residence.

In January 2018,  California became the eighth state to legalize marijuana, joining the likes of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts. But while you may be 21 and over in California, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in the state.

Arresting someone for a weed-influenced DUI is certainly not as easy as arresting someone for drunk driving. There is no “per se” level like the one for alcohol (0.08%), at least in California, and there are no simple tools like the Breathalyzer to instantly gauge if someone’s driving impaired.

This has created a substantial challenge for police officers in the state, with them having to rely on subjective judgments to determine whether a person is driving under the influence of marijuana.

But California does employ drug recognition experts trained specifically to conduct tests and identify cannabis-related impairment, so if you do get arrested, it’s important to know how to handle a Pot DUI charge.


23152(e) VC – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
● 23152(f) VC – Driving Under the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs
● Unlawful Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use


If you are arrested for violating 23152(e) VC or 23152(f) VC, you will be subjected to a standard Breathalyzer test used to detect alcohol impairment.

If the test comes up negative or low, and the officer has a reasonable suspicion of drug-related impairment, you will be asked to submit to a blood test or a urine test if you cannot take a blood test or if blood testing facilities are unavailable.

If you refuse to take a blood or urine test while under arrest, your driver’s licence will be suspended for a year, regardless of whether you are later convicted of driving under the influence or not.


Like any other instance of DUI, drug-related DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties imposed would depend on the case and the defendant’s prior DUI convictions, if any.

● 23152(e) VC

If the defendant is convicted under the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) VC, their driving license would be suspended for a period of 6 months for a first-time conviction. The period of suspension may be longer with a record of prior DUI convictions.

First-time offenders may have to spend 3 months or more in DUI school, and may also have to spend time in jail depending on the case. The punishments increase with second and third convictions.

● 23152(f) VC

If the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is found to be more than 0.08% after a blood test, and they are convicted under the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) VC, their driving license would be suspended for a period of 6 months for a first-time conviction. The period of suspension may be longer with a record of prior DUI convictions.

The defendant may be placed on summary probation for 3 to 5 years, and they may have to serve jail time and attend DUI school for 3 months or more. The punishments increase with second and third convictions.

A defendant’s fourth or higher conviction is treated as a ‘wobbler’ offense, which can be treated either as a felony or a misdemeanor.

● Unlawful Possession of Marijuana

Possession of marijuana in excess of 28 grams or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of $500.

Possession of marijuana under those limits by anyone aged 18-20 is punishable by a fine of $100 and mandatory drug counseling and/or community service.

If faced with any of these charges, you should consult with a DUI lawyer with years of experience in handling such cases. A lawyer would be your best bet to prepare a solid defense that will get you the best result possible.

With the legalization of weed, you can now get your favorite strain of marijuana at any one of several registered dispensaries all over the state, and you can even get it delivered to your doorstep when you buy weed online.

But it’s not legal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and you would be best served abiding by the law in California.