Marijuana may be legal to use for recreational purposes in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California, but as with alcohol, that doesn’t mean it mixes well with driving or riding a motorcycle. The following is meant as a reminder that “legal to use” does not equate to “safe to use”—and remains decidedly illegal to use while operating any vehicle.
California Law and Cannabis Use by Motorcyclists
Being under the influence of pot or other drug while driving a car, motorcycle, or other vehicle is prohibited. However, the definition of under the influence when it comes to marijuana remains somewhat unclear. While there is a measurable limit when it comes to how much alcohol you can have in your bloodstream while operating a motorcycle (.08 percent blood alcohol level), there is currently no equivalent measurement or limit on marijuana in your system. This means that if you are pulled over and a California Highway Patrol officer suspects you’re riding while high, the legal consequences will largely be determined by the cop, subjectively.
If you are spotted with a joint hanging out of your mouth while riding, or if an officer watched spark up before getting on your bike, that will certainly lead to your being pulled over and charged. However, if you are pulled over for riding erratically and the officer simply suspects you are stoned, they will likely ask you to perform the same sobriety tests used on suspected intoxicated drivers.
Alternatively, if you are brought to the station, an expert in recognizing the signs of pharmaceutical intoxication may perform more invasive tests using your blood, urine, or saliva. Without a current legal limit for marijuana intoxication, the police and courts may charge you based on a combination of the behavior that got you pulled over (e.g., speeding, swerving), the field assessment, and/or the more invasive tests.
In short, the highly subjective nature of whether you could be charged for riding while under the influence of pot makes it very risky to try getting away with and puts you at the mercy of the arresting officers and court to determine whether you will lose your motorcycle license, pay a hefty fine, or even wind up in jail.
Riding Stoned is Dangerous to You and Others
Aside from the legal consequences, riding your motorcycle high is risky to you, any passengers you might have, and others on the road. The psychoactive properties of pot have been shown to:
- Impair decision-making
- Slow reaction time
- Negatively affect coordination
- Distort perception
While any of these would be dangerous to a car driver, they are even more threatening to a motorcyclist, who doesn’t have the benefits of a steel-reinforced vehicle surrounding and protecting them and their passenger. One error is all it takes to miss spotting an object in the road, take a turn too fast, or fail to brake in time to avoid a pedestrian.
There is simply no room for error when it comes to controlling a motorcycle and operating one irresponsibly under the influence of any intoxicant, including pot, is inexcusable.
Motorcycle Accident? Time to Contact Attorney Scott J. Corwin
No one should have to suffer a serious injury or lose their life in a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, using controlled substances, even legal ones like pot, could place you or someone you love in jeopardy. If a driver of another vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol caused your motorcycle crash, please call Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation, for help.
Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.