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Smoking Weed in Your Car: California Law Explained (2024)

It is illegal to smoke or consume cannabis in any form while driving a vehicle or while riding as a passenger in a vehicle. California’s laws prohibit smoking cannabis or consuming cannabis products while operating a motor vehicle, whether on public roads or on private property accessible to the public.
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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

Can You Drive After Smoking Weed in California?

According to SCLG, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana or any other drug, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, is considered a criminal offense under California law [1]. When determining whether a driver is under the influence, law enforcement authorities assess various factors, such as physical symptoms and performance on field sobriety tests.

If arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana (DUID), individuals may face misdemeanor charges. Consequences of a DUID conviction can include jail time, misdemeanor probation, fines, and suspension of driver’s licenses. It’s essential to understand and abide by California’s laws regarding drug-impaired driving to avoid legal penalties and ensure road safety – SCLG

Unlike alcohol, California does not have a specific legal limit for drugs like the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. This is due to the lack of consensus among experts regarding the threshold of drug impairment for driving.

Can You Smoke Marijuana in a Parked Car in California?

If your vehicle is parked, you can legally consume marijuana only under specific conditions. Firstly, your car must be parked on private property, and secondly, you must have no intention of driving afterward.

Essentially, if you decide to step outside your residence and consume cannabis inside your parked car on your private driveway, you won’t face legal repercussions. However, if your vehicle is parked on a public street or if you drive after consuming marijuana, you risk being charged with offenses such as public consumption of marijuana or driving under the influence of marijuana (DUI).

It’s crucial to adhere to these regulations to avoid legal consequences and ensure responsible consumption practices. Familiarizing yourself with the applicable laws can help you navigate cannabis consumption safely and within the bounds of the law.

Also Read: California Passenger DUI

Can I Drive With Weed in My Car?

Under California law, Vehicle Code 23222(b) VC extends the “open container” regulation to marijuana possession, similar to alcohol.

Specifically, Vehicle Code 23222(b) VC prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with an open container of marijuana. This statute essentially makes it illegal for a driver to operate a motor vehicle while in possession of marijuana in an open container.

In simpler terms, California law permits drivers to transport marijuana in a closed or sealed container, but it is unlawful to have an open container of marijuana while driving. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial to avoid legal consequences and ensure compliance with California’s laws regarding marijuana possession while driving.

Related Article: Unopened Alcohol in Car is Illegal?

Marijuana Impact on California: Statistics

  • Between 2016 and 2019, emergency department visits and admissions related to marijuana use in California saw a significant uptick, rising by 89% from 125,418 to 236,954 cases.
  • Exposure calls related to cannabidiol (CBD) surged from just 3 in 2014 to 1,526 in 2019.
  • The data reveals a staggering 1044% increase in emergency department visits and admissions for primary marijuana use in California from 2005 to 2019, jumping from 1,412 to 16,151 cases.
  • Emergency department visits with marijuana-related occurrences skyrocketed from 1,393 in 2005 to 14,993 in 2019, marking a 976% increase over the same period.
  • The prevalence of e-cigarette (vaping) and nicotine exposure calls surged in California from 2011 to 2019, soaring by an alarming 1883%, with calls escalating from 269 to 5,335 cases.

According to the National Library of Medicine 2021 study, these statistics underscore the evolving landscape of substance use and related emergencies in California, highlighting the importance of public awareness and effective interventions to address emerging health concerns [2].

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