California has given the green light to recreational marijuana in the New Year. But while many Californians are lining up to make their first purchases, lawmakers are concerned about the dangers of cannabis users getting behind the wheel while high. A new law aims to prevent drivers from being tempted to consume marijuana while hitting the road, but there’s more to it.
Here’s what you should know if you plan to bring cannabis in the car.
DUIs and open containers
If you’re planning to transport a passenger with an open container of marijuana, you might want to think again. Not only is it illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis, but a new law treats open containers of marijuana the same as an open bottle of liquor and is just another legislative measure to keep impaired drivers off the road.
If a driver is found to be driving under the influence of marijuana, they can be arrested and charged just as if they were driving under the influence of alcohol. But this provision has been expanded with the new law. As of January 1, if an open container of marijuana or a container with the seal broken is found in the car, the driver can receive a fine up to $100.
Legislative measures in the works to expand DUI laws
The legislation also appointed the California Highway Patrol commissioner as the impaired driving task force chairperson. This task force will develop additional policies to adjust laws on driving under the influence of pot accordingly. While cannabis may not kill those who use it by ingesting it, getting behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana could lead to injury or death.
The side effects of marijuana, such as impaired judgment, may lead to an accident and could carry more severe consequences than a fine. That being said, it may be a good idea to think twice before hitting the road while high.