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Is Driving While Possessing Marijuana Illegal?

Posted By SNL Law Group, APC
Is Driving While Possessing Marijuana Illegal?

Although many of the legal restrictions on possessing marijuana in California have lessened in recent years, it is still illegal to drive with marijuana unless you have legal authorization to possess it.  Under California law, the offense is committed when:

  • Anyone who is driving a motor vehicle upon a highway possesses an ounce or less of marijuana; and,
  • The driver is not legally authorized to possess the marijuana. 

This law applies to anyone who is driving on any public road, whether it is a highway, freeway, or neighborhood street.  However, the law does not apply to any person who is driving on a private driveway or private road. 

Those who might be legally authorized to possess marijuana, and thus are exempt from the law’s restrictions, include anyone who might be a patient with a valid prescription or a licensed marijuana caregiver. 

If you do not fall into either of these exemptions (private road or legal authorization), then you can be cited for the offense, even if the marijuana is not physically on your person.  As long as the marijuana is found within your vehicle, you can face criminal penalties.  For instance, if you get stopped for a traffic violation on your way home from work and you consent to a search of your vehicle, if the law enforcement officer finds marijuana in your trunk, you can be cited for possessing marijuana while driving.  However, if you have a valid prescription for the marijuana, you would likely not be cited under the law. 

If you are found guilty of possessing marijuana while driving, you can be punished by a $100 court fine and other court costs and assessments.  It is important to note that this penalty applies to you if you are found with one ounce of marijuana or less.  However, if you are found with more than one ounce, you might be charged with transporting marijuana for sale.  In these instances, you might face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500, but depending on the circumstances and your criminal history, you could also be facing felony charges where the penalties can include up to three years in jail. 

Defenses to Driving While Possessing Marijuana

Again, if you are caught driving with an ounce or less of marijuana, if you have a valid prescription or you are legally authorized to possess marijuana while driving, you will not necessarily be cited.  In addition, if you can establish that the marijuana found in your vehicle belonged to a passenger, you might not be guilty of the offense.  Moreover, if you can prove that the law enforcement officer who stopped you did not have the requisite reasonable or probable cause to stop you, or search your vehicle, any evidence of the marijuana might be suppressed or thrown out of court, and your charges could be dismissed. 

Call a Dedicated and Skilled Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!

If you have been charged with a criminal offense involving marijuana in California, it is important that you take your charges seriously as a conviction can mean severe penalties including time in jail, hefty fines, and a permanent criminal history.  Thus, contact an experienced and skilled Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Lawyer right away.  At Schwartzberg & Luther, APC, our Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Lawyers have many years of experience dealing with a wide range of criminal cases and will work to ensure the legal rights of every client are protected.  Contact Schwartzberg & Luther, APC at (909) 457-4270 and schedule your free case evaluation

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SNL Law Group, APC

At SNL Law Group, APC, our attorneys are able to assist you and your family with a wide variety of legal cases. We integrate technology into our firm’s operations so that we are able to spend more time focused on you and your needs and less time managing our firm’s operations. This translates into a better experience for you, our client. We have helped numerous California clients successfully resolve their legal disputes, including those involving the following areas of law:Family & DivorceCriminal & DUI DefensePersonal InjuryCar AccidentsInsurance Claim DenialsOntario, California LawyersIn every facet of our practice, communication is key! The Ontario, CA attorneys and staff... View full business profile here: SNL Law Group, APC

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