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San Diego DUI Attorney Challenges Marijuana DUI Laws

Studies do not support the idea that Cannabis affects the ability to drive

2009 | Sep 07

San Diego DUI lawyer Lawrence Taylor claims that California DUI laws should not be applied to marijuana usage. Unlike alcohol and many drugs, he says, marijuana probably does not impair driving.

Taylor, known nationally as “The Dean of DUI Attorneys”, argues that although it has always been assumed that cannabis, like alcohol, affects the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, the studies do not support that.

On the one hand, the California Department of Justice has found that marijuana impairs psychomotor abilities that are functionally related to driving, particularly at high-dose levels or among inexperienced users ("Marijuana and Alcohol: A Driver Performance Study", California Office of Traffic Safety Project No. 087902).

However, the San Diego DUI defense attorney points out, two federal studies contradict this.

In one, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted DUI research with a fully interactive simulator on the effects of alcohol and marijuana, alone and in combination, on driver-controlled behavior and performance. Although alcohol was found consistently and significantly to cause impairment, marijuana had only an occasional effect.

Accidents and speeding tickets reliably increased with alcohol, but no marijuana or combined alcohol-marijuana influence was noted. "The Effects of Alcohol on Driver-Controlled Behavior in a Driving Simulator, Phase I" (DOT-HS-806-414).

Taylor, who heads a large firm of DUI attorneys with offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside and San Francisco, points to another more recent report. Entitled "Marijuana and Actual Performance" (DOT-HS-808-078), it also found that "THC is not a profoundly impairing drug….It apparently affects controlled information processing in a variety of laboratory tests, but not to the extent which is beyond the individual’s ability to control when he is motivated and permitted to do so in driving".

The researchers found that it "appears not possible to conclude anything about a driver’s impairment on the basis of his/her plasma concentrations of THC and THC-COOH determined in a single sample".

THC, Taylor explains, is the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana, and is fairly quickly converted by the body into inactive metabolites -- which can stay in the body for hours or even days. But it is these metabolites that police are measuring in blood tests taken after drunk driving arrests.

In other words, the San Diego DUI lawyer says, (1) marijuana may not impair driving ability at all, and (2) the blood "evidence" only measures an inactive substance which may have been there for days.

For more information, visit the firm’s website at http://sandiego.duicentral.com/. Inquiries may be directed to the firm’s San Diego office: 619.232.5034.

Daniel Stanton

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Lawrence Taylor have an average experience of 18 years; the firm has specialized only in DUI defense since 1979. More information about Mr. Taylor's firm can be found at their homepage, www.duicentral.com.