AB-127 “Driving Under the Influence : Research” Law Approved by the Governor and Took Effect on July 10, 2019

On July 10, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom approved AB-127.[1] Existing law prohibits and subjects criminal punishment to a person who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both when driving a motor vehicle.

AB-127 legislation exempts a person who is under the influence of a drug or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug from criminal liability when conducting research on impaired driving while driving a vehicle under the supervision of, and on the property of, the Department of the California Highway Patrol.

According to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, in 2016 voters approved Proposition 64, “The California Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” which authorized the CHP three million dollars annually for five years to develop internal protocols for detection, testing, and enforcing laws against driving under the influence. However, as the law currently stands, there is no statutory exemption which permits anyone to be both lawfully under the influence of a drug and to drive a vehicle. Thus, in order to adequately test and observe the effects cannabis has on driving related abilities, a statutory exemption needed to be created. AB-127 created this exemption by adding Vehicle Code section 23152.5 to the Vehicle Code and will allow the Department to complete its study under Proposition 64.

It will be interesting to see the results of this study and the future impact it will have on the laws relating to driving under the influence of marijuana.


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