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Can You Escape DUI Charge By Arguing That You Didn’t Know Marijuana Would Be So Potent?

Okabe & Haushalter Feb 1, 2019 DUI

If you caused a DUI accident while impaired by marijuana, and another person was injured or died in the crash, can you escape criminal charges by arguing that you had no knowledge or warning that the weed you had purchased would be so potent?

It’s been more than a year since marijuana legalization in California, but judges and lawyers alike still have to make difficult decisions in unprecedented cases involving marijuana use. We asked our Los Angeles DUI defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter to review a recent case, in which jurors remain deadlocked on a murder charge in the trial of an intoxicated driver.

What if you had no knowledge of marijuana’s strength?

As reported by NBC Los Angeles, a woman was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter following a deadly crash. Prior to the DUI accident, the woman had smoked marijuana, but her defense lawyer has argued that his client had no knowledge that the strain of marijuana would be so potent or that she would suffer such an unusual reaction that caused the crash.

The criminal defense attorney argued that Hyun Jeong Choi had unknowingly smoked a very potent strain of weed prior to the DUI crash. Jurors could not agree on a verdict for Choi’s second-degree murder charge.

How did the deadly DUI crash occur?

The DUI accident took place on Pomerado Road between Caminito Alto and Sycamore Test Road in March 2016. Choi, the San Diego woman who smoked marijuana, crashed into an oncoming vintage Porsche, killing its passenger and injuring the driver. The woman was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter for causing the crash while operating a car under the influence of marijuana.

Choi had faced a charge of second-degree murder but jurors dismissed the charge because they remained deadlocked 10 to 2 for guilty on the primary charge. The reason the two jurors disagreed with the rest was that they did not think that the facts of the 2016 DUI crash could meet the legal definition of “implied malice,” which is required for the murder charge.

Choi was able to escape the murder charge thanks to the actions of her experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. Choi’s defense lawyer argued that although his client was “catastrophically impaired” after smoking a strain of marijuana, she had no knowledge or warning of its strength.

Can your lack of knowledge or warning of marijuana’s potency be used as a defense?

Prior to the DUI crash, which occurred after Choi’s car went over the raised median and crashed into the 1956 Porsche that had only lap seat belts and no airbags, Choi had visited a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, where she was sold Jupiter OG.

Her defense lawyer argued that Choi “made a naive and negligent mistake” by getting behind the wheel after smoking marijuana, but the lack of training of marijuana dispensary staff contributed to the deadly crash, the attorney added.

Prior to the deadly DUI collision, Choi was given a medicinal marijuana card to treat her social anxiety disorder. Her defense lawyer argued that the woman purchased the unusually potent strain of marijuana within “roughly 9 minutes” after consulting with dispensary staff.

According to the lawsuit, on her way home from the dispensary, Choi pulled over to take a couple of puffs and continued driving. Approximately six miles from the dispensary, Choi lost her hearing and could no longer control her arms and legs when her car crashed into the Porsche.

So can you actually escape a DUI charge by arguing that you did not know or were not warned that marijuana would be so potent? Possibly. Schedule a free consultation with our Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer from Okabe & Haushalter to discuss your particular case. Call our offices at 310-430-7799 today.