Does Being High Count as a DUI in the State of California?

One of the first and most important things you learn before you get behind the wheel is to never drink and drive.

Luckily, ride-share apps such as Uber and Lyft make that situation easily avoidable, but it does not take away the possibility entirely.

Though we are taught to not get behind the wheel if your BAC is over the legal limit of .08%, some people think that they are ‘okay’ enough to drive and do it anyway. The same justification goes for those who smoke marijuana.

Taking part in both alcohol and marijuana consumption is legal in the state of California if one is of age, but the legality of the activities does not make your subsequent actions legal.

Do not get behind the wheel if you have consumed anything that can impair your judgment, mobility, or response time.

Cops know how to look out for, perform sobriety tests on, and breathalyzer potential
drunk drivers to ensure not only their safety but the safety of everyone else that could be harmed in a drunk driving accident. Unfortunately, law enforcement does not have these same advantages when it comes to drivers under the influence of marijuana.

While marijuana is not a nationally legalized drug, it is decriminalized in 27 states and fully legal in 12 states. This growing legalization poses the questions of how safe is one to drive after smoking pot? How can we determine how much is too much to get behind a wheel if it affects everyone differently?

An individual under the influence of marijuana can be recognized through blood-shot eyes, delayed reaction times, or the pungent smell of marijuana itself. However, these symptoms might not always be as easily recognizable as one may assume, and they are inconclusive of how ‘high’ an individual may be.

Nonetheless, it is illegal to drive high. Driving high is treated equally as it would be if the driver at fault were drunk, hence the qualification of “driving under the influence.”

The term DUI includes any substance the affects the body, brain, or nervous system.
Moreover, a cop does not explicitly need a marijuana equivalent of a Breathalyzer to
determine how high a driver is. They simply need enough evidence to convince 9 of 12 jurors of the case, which is called preponderance of the evidence.

Driving while high is taken very seriously in a court of law, even if it is your first offense.

A first offense, if no one was injured in the accident, can face up to six months in jail, severe fines, a license suspension for a minimum of four months, and three months of mandatory classes. Saving the five dollars it would take to call an Uber is not worth the extreme repercussions one might face for driving under the influence of any substance.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a DUI accident, call The Ledger Law Firm in Newport Beach or visit their website at for potential representation and compensation.