Marijuana laws in Arizona are crystal clear: you cannot use weed or possess it for personal use, exceptions to the rule being people who are permitted by law to use or possess marijuana for specific medical purposes.
The marijuana laws of California are in stark contrast, where the regulated recreational use, possession and sale of marijuana was legalized on January 1, 2018, enabling shops to sell the drug legally, while you can even buy weed online in the state.
California Marijuana Law in Brief
In order to use or possess marijuana in the state of California, you have to be aged 21 or over. You can buy and carry up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis oil per day, and you may only smoke the weed within the confines of private residences – either yours or of someone you know.
Smoking weed in public places is considered illegal, and so is driving under the influence of marijuana. Ifarrested, the charges and punishments are the same as that of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Marijuana DUI Law for Out-Of-State Visitors
If you’re from Arizona, possessing an Arizona driver’s license, visiting California for any period of time, and you’re arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, you’ll be treated as an out-of-state visitor. DUI law for out-of-state visitors differs from the law for California residents, and you would be better off hiring a marijuana lawyer in California to help you out.
California residents arrested for driving under the influence have to surrender their driver’s licenses to the arresting officer and are issued temporary licenses valid for 30 days, post which their licenses are suspended.
However, an officer cannot confiscate your out-of-state driver’s license. Instead, the officer will notify you that your driving privileges in California will be suspended in 30 days. The California DMV is notified immediately.
The Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing
Once an out-of-state driver is arrested, he/she is given 30 days before their driving privileges are suspended. In this case, your California DUI defense attorney will help you craft a solid defense and most likely request an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing with the California DMV.
This hearing has to be requested within 10 days of arrest and winning it postpones the suspension, but losing it will result in suspension of your driving privileges in the state of California.
The state of Arizona is a part of the Interstate Driver License Compact (IDLC) which means that the California DMV will share details of your arrest and suspension of driving privileges with the Arizona DMV, which is likely to affect your driver’s license in your home state.
If you’re unable to stay in the state for the hearing, your DUI lawyer can appear in court on your behalf or the hearing can take place over the phone.
You Will Be Involved in Criminal Court Proceedings
Regardless of your victory or loss in the APS hearing, you still have to face criminal court proceedings imposed by the California Superior Court. These proceedings cannot be conducted telephonically, but if circumstances prohibit you, you can waive your right to be present and have your attorney appear in court on your behalf.
If the case goes to trial, the judge will decide whether you need to be present in court.
In most marijuana DUI cases, the offense is treated as a misdemeanor and these are the charges you might face:
- 23152(e) VC – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
- 23152(f) VC – Driving Under the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs
A conviction under these charges can result in:
- Suspension of driving privileges and driver’s license
- Possible jail time
- DUI school
- Community Service
An experienced DUI attorney would be able to gather evidence and build a case to have your charges reduced or dismissed, but if you are convicted of these charges, you will be sentenced in California.
Your home state of Arizona would also be notified of your conviction, and it will likely take action and impose similar restrictions as if you were charged with a DUI in Arizona. Further, these restrictions would be binding until you fulfill your probation requirements in California i.e. paying a fine, attending DUI school in California etc.
Marijuana is legal in The Golden State, but being from Arizona, you should be acquainted with marijuana law in California and drive responsibly while you’re there. But if you do get arrested for a Pot DUI, your best bet would be hiring an experienced attorney immediately.