With the first holiday season approaching since recreational marijuana was legalized in the state, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and law enforcement officials warned the public Monday about the dangers of driving after using the drug and the legal penalties it could bring.
"We have long known that alcohol and driving can be a lethal combination. Using cannabis and driving can be equally deadly," Feuer said. "That's why being an impaired driver is against the law -- and why we and our law enforcement partners take these violations so seriously."
Speaking at a news conference at City Hall East, Feuer said that from Dec. 1, 2017, to Nov. 30, his office prosecuted 7,794 misdemeanor DUI cases. He added that the total number of cannabis cases was still being compiled, but that there have been "dozens and dozens" each month.
In the same time period, Lacey said her office filed nearly 10,000 criminal cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, although the number of cannabis cases was still being tallied.
"Each holiday season, we, in law enforcement, gather together in hopes of saving lives," she said. "Today we repeat the same warning: Do not get behind the wheel, if you have been drinking. This year, we've expanded that traditional warning. Today's message is: Do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle, if you have been drinking or using drugs -- whether they are legal or illegal."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who was sworn in last week, noted that for some adults, just one drink can push them close to the legal limit and two often pushes them over.
"The equivalent then for marijuana would be if you take a couple of hits, you're out too," Villanueva said. "So you just need to be responsible and recognize that if you feel happy and good, that means you are not ready to drive.''