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Possession of a controlled substance is illegal in California, and it’s made worse when you’re caught driving while in possession of a controlled substance. A controlled substance is defined as anything regulated by the United States Controlled Substances Act. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an illegal drug. It can be a legal drug that’s been prescribed if the prescription is not in your name. This is a strict law, but there are many considerations regarding this type of arrest. For example, you can pick up a prescription from the pharmacy for your spouse and end up pulled over with it in your car. This is easily explainable and typically not a reason to arrest you if you can prove you haven’t used it.
Possession While Driving
The law is complicated regarding possession in California. It’s not illegal for adults over the age of 21 to carry up to one ounce of marijuana as well as up to 8 grams of cannabis while walking, driving, living at home, or doing anything else. However, the law does require these substances remain in a closed container while driving. It is illegal to drive if the marijuana is not in a container or the container in which it came in is open or missing its seal.
It’s not a major crime to carry if you have under the legal limit even if it’s not in a container. However, you will be punished with a fine not to exceed $100. If you have more than the legal limit, the situation changes. Possession while driving with more than legal recreational use limit of marijuana is subject to fines, and sometimes the crime can be classified as a misdemeanor and you could face time in jail. If you are under the age of 21 and have any marijuana in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, you are automatically fined and guilty of this infraction as it is illegal for you to possess any amount of marijuana.
If you possess any other type of drug or a prescription that’s not yours, you face more serious consequences. Most possession of controlled substance charges are defined as a misdemeanor charge depending on the amount of the drug, the type of drug, and other circumstances, and you could face up to one year in jail as well as fines up to $1,000.
Defending Possession Charges
There are several defenses to this crime, and one might apply to you. If the drugs were found following an illegal search of your person or vehicle, you can fight those charges in a court of law and have them dropped entirely if you win your case.
If you possess a valid prescription, it’s not illegal to carry the drug with you. If you have it and it’s for someone in your household, you can argue that person left it in the car, you didn’t know, or you just picked it up for them. You might not know there are drugs in your car if there are other people in the vehicle with you or you are using a vehicle someone else used before you. For example, the person who used a rental car before you might have left their drugs in the car and they simply were not discovered by the agency prior to you picking up the car.
If you were on your way to a local drug disposal situation offered by many police stations throughout the year, you are not committing a crime. Additionally, you can fight if you believe drugs were planted in your vehicle by the police.
Call an attorney if you are arrested and charged with possession while driving. There are so many different situations that might occur based on your criminal history, how far you traveled with drugs, what kind of drug you have, and how much of the drug you are carrying. You need an attorney on your side to help fight for your rights and keep you out of jail. If you are guilty, your attorney can fight for a reduced sentence. You have a much better chance of winning your case if you hire an attorney to help you.