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On the Road: Marijuana smoking, consumption now illegal in cars in California

By in Press Enterprise on December 31, 2017

By Amy Bentley

Each new year brings new driving or transportation-related laws in California and 2018 is no exception. We’d like to share these new laws with readers in the next few columns.

Marijuana and edible cannabis use in vehicles, Senate Bill 65: Recreational marijuana/cannabis is now legal to be purchased and consumed in certain places, but that doesn’t mean you can light up a joint on your daily commute.

Consuming cannabis while driving or while riding as a passenger in a vehicle in California is illegal. This new law is similar to the “open container” laws that outlaw drinking alcohol while driving, though having some alcohol in your system while driving isn’t outlawed.

It’s already a crime to drive while under the influence of marijuana or to have an open bag of pot in a your vehicle. The new law bans actually smoking marijuana or consuming any edible cannabis products while driving or riding in a vehicle.

Driving while impaired by alcohol, legal or illegal drugs can result in a DUI arrest and conviction. The fine for a first-offense DUI, along with all the associated costs, can run more than $15,000 in California, the California Highway Patrol reports.

New road maintenance fee, Senate Bill 1: Another change for 2018 will hit the wallets of California vehicle owners.

Beginning Jan. 1, the DMV will start collecting, at registration or vehicle renewal, the new Transportation Improvement Fee that will range from $25-175, based on the vehicle’s market value. This new law also requires the DMV to collect a Road Improvement Fee for zero-emission vehicles beginning July 1, 2020, with a model year of 2020 or later, so zero-emission vehicles get a few years delay.

Here is the fee breakdown for regular-emission vehicles: $25 for vehicles valued up to $4,999; $50 for vehicles valued between $5,000 and $24,999; $100 for vehicles […]    

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