The new year is right around the corner which means new laws will begin taking effect the minute the clock strikes 12:00 a.m. Starting this coming Monday, Californians will be required to abide by a new law that prohibits drivers and even passengers traveling in a vehicle to smoke marijuana. The law was developed to help combat the number of accidents that have been occurring, especially those involving a drunk and high driver. This past Christmas Eve, a CHP officer, Andrew Camilleri, was killed on Interstate 880 by a driver who may have been drunk and high.
Officer Camilleri was pulled off to the shoulder of the highway, keeping a close eye out for impaired drivers who might be out during the holidays. Unfortunately, he became the victim of the exact type of accident he was trying to prevent from happening. The intoxicated driver smashed into the patrol vehicle resulting in the officer’s death.
While drunk drivers are still the number one issue on California roadways contributing to the fatal accidents that transpire, officials believe drivers who drink and smoke marijuana only increase the chances of a collision occurring. According to Mercury News, “since 2006, the percentage of drivers in fatal collisions who have other impairing substances in their system has soared to 38.7 percent,” although it isn’t specified if these other substances include marijuana.
Still, lawmakers don’t want drivers who could potentially be impaired out of the roadways, contributing to the danger that already exists.
What will the penalties be for driving while smoking marijuana in California?
If an officer catches you smoking marijuana in a vehicle, the fine will begin at $70.00 but could reach as much as $10,000.00. This is similar to the cost of a drunk driving ticket in the event injuries or deaths arise because a driver was ingesting marijuana. While officers once had a difficult time identifying someone who was driving while under the influence of marijuana because it took nearly two hours before a blood sample could be collected, which resulted in a decrease of THC levels, officers are being trained to handle the task.
California officers are now ready and prepared to spot someone who they suspect to be smoking marijuana at the same time they are operating their vehicle. According to the news source, $3 million has been designated to train police officers and help them better understand when drivers may be under the influence of marijuana. The ultimate goal of the training is to help prevent any type of accident from occurring involving an impaired driver.
So, if have made plans to spend New Year’s Day out celebrating and smoking marijuana, be sure you and those traveling with you avoid doing it while inside your vehicle. And if you forget, you will likely be reminded by the electronic signs that hang over California’s freeways that state, “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze” and “Drive High, get a DUI.”
In the event you were recently involved in an accident in Modesto, California, you might be entitled to compensation for the injuries you suffered, the medical bills that have accrued, or even for the lost wages you weren’t paid for the time you were out of work. USAttorneys.com can help you find a nearby Modesto accident lawyer who can explain what steps you need to take to begin collecting this compensation.