VIDEO: CHP warns smoking marijuana while driving is illegal even after recreational pot is legalized in 2018


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- Among the new laws coming in 2018 is the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, but law enforcement officials are warning on Tuesday night that while sales and use may be legal, driving while under the influence of pot is not.

The sale and use of marijuana for recreation purposes become legal in California on Jan. 1.

The highway patrol wants those lighting up to know that getting behind the wheel after smoking pot is not.

"Whether it's legal or not, it's still dangerous to operate a vehicle of any kind if you are impaired, whether it's drugs, whether its marijuana, whether it's alcohol," CHP Officer Vu Williams said.

Officer Williams says all CHP officers have now taken an advanced class to identify roadside impairment and will be putting that knowledge to the test with field sobriety tests.

"These are tests to see if you can follow directions, whether you can multitask, whether your motor skills are impaired or not," Officer Williams said. "Things that you use when you drive a vehicle. Whether we have a blood test or not is not what we are looking at on the side of the road. We are looking at those tests and determining if they are impaired and making an arrest based on that."

And while arrests may be as straightforward as they were before, getting a conviction may be harder.

"They can quantify alcohol .08, that's a matter of law," Criminal Defense Attorney Bill Fazio said. "The same doesn't apply to any drugs including marijuana, so it will be more difficult at least initially."

Fazio says the lack of specificity when it comes to marijuana gives defense attorneys more options when at trial.



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