Skip to Content
When Your Future is On the Line, We're Here to Help
Santa Maria Marijuana Dui



In Santa Maria, California, the law makes driving under the influence of drugs illegal under vehicle code VC 23512(f). As marijuana is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, VC 23152(f) also makes driving under the influence of cannabis illegal. Unlike alcohol-related DUIs, however, a marijuana-based DUI has fewer obstacles to overcome in proving innocence, as there is no “per se” limit of THC.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, it does not automatically mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a DUI charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.

As a former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in both Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and our legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.


VC 23152(f) is the subsection of the California vehicle code dealing with driving under the influence of mind-altering substances, including alcohol, and deals specifically with drugs. VC 23152(f) simply states:

“It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”

Definition of a Drug

According to the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, the definition of a drug is as follows:

“A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.”

More specifically, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.

Definition of a Motor Vehicle

California law specifically defines a motor vehicle as any self-moving means of transportation meant for driving on highways or streets. The definition includes traditional modes of transportation such as cars, vans, and trucks, as well as mopeds, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles; however, it excludes motorized wheelchairs and similar devices used by people with physical disabilities.  

Operating a bicycle while under the influence (VC 21200.5) or boat (HNC 655(b)) is also illegal. 


When an officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving under the influence, there are a number of methods they will use to determine whether or not you are intoxicated. These include:

  • Using blood, urine, or saliva tests
  • Conducting Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
  • Calling on a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)
  • Looking for physical signs of intoxication or other forms of circumstantial evidence

Drug Tests for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabis metabolites

Blood Tests

When suspected of driving under the influence, an officer will offer the choice of a breath test or a blood test. If you opt for a Breathalyzer and the results are negative, the officer can require you to take a blood test – but only if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use.

A blood analyst can test for the presence of THC directly; however, blood tests are often unreliable, as THC metabolizes, or breaks down, much quicker than alcohol. Blood tests cannot be relied upon to determine the level of THC in your bloodstream at the time of driving.

Additionally, THC is fat-soluble, meaning it can linger in your system for up to a month after initial consumption. Someone can be perfectly sober while driving but return a positive result from a THC blood test.  


After consuming cannabis products, your body will break down the main components, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and THC, into inactive components called metabolites. Unlike a blood test that looks directly for THC, a urinalysis can only measure the concentration of metabolites present in a suspect’s urine.

Urine tests are incredibly unreliable at determining intoxication while driving for two reasons:

  • CBD, the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, breaks down into metabolites that can trigger a false positive.
  • Urine tests can only show that some form of cannabis product, whether a high-CBD/low-THC product or vice versa, was consumed at some point – it cannot reveal the specific type of product used or when it was taken.


Oral swabs or saliva tests are implemented in select counties across the US, including Los Angeles. For now, however, saliva tests can only be used as a preliminary measure, as they are not yet deemed admissible in a court of law. If you are subjected to an oral swab that yields a positive result, an officer may arrest you and force you to take a blood test.

A saliva test can be conducted at the scene. While the test is more precise in indicating recent use to within a few hours, an oral swab cannot prove impairment.

Continue Reading Read Less

The Right Firm Makes a Difference

Why Clients Choose Us
  • Aggressive & Compassionate Representation
    You are our number one priority in and out of the courtroom.
  • Former Prosecutor on Your Team

    Work with an experienced former prosecutor who knows both sides.

  • Providing Service in Spanish
    Criminal defense provided by a Spanish-speaking team.
  • Offering 100% Free Consults
    Talk through all of your legal options during a free consultation.

What Clients Are Saying

  • A former prosecutor, Sandy is a skilled litigator who understands both sides of the criminal justice system, which is a tremendous asset. While we hope never to be in a similar situation again, we can recommend Sandy without hesitation.
    - Ann S.
  • A great relief and reassurance to anyone potentially facing criminal charges.
    - S.A.
  • To say that Horowitz is a great lawyer is an understatement. I would highly recommend him to anyone dealing with a legal issue.
    - Haley S.
  • In addition to being highly intelligent and professional, he is incredibly empathetic and kind, which helps when dealing with life’s unpleasant situations.
    - Eli S.