Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Pot Use While Driving or Riding in Cars

September 12, 2017

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – September 12, 2017
Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell,

Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Pot Use While Driving or Riding in Cars

Senator Hill’s SB 65 Makes Marijuana Use in Vehicles an Infraction

SACRAMENTO – Smoking or consuming marijuana in any form while driving or riding in vehicles will be specifically prohibited by law in California come January 1 under a bill by Senator Jerry Hill that Governor Brown signed Monday [September 11].

“This bill simply makes our laws on using marijuana while driving or riding in cars consistent with our laws on consuming alcohol while driving or riding in vehicles,” Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, said today.

SB 65, prompted by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, enhances Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana initiative, which makes it illegal to have an open container of pot in a vehicle but does not address use of marijuana products by drivers or passengers.

“You should be holding the steering wheel -- not a joint or an edible," District Attorney Rosen said. "There is nothing recreational, medicinal or legal about hurting someone in a car accident when you’re high. Please don’t do it.” 

The bill adds marijuana consumption to the law prohibiting alcohol consumption while driving or riding in vehicles, which is an infraction currently punishable with a base fine of $70.

In 2012, the California Office of Traffic Safety released a study of weekend nighttime drivers that found more California drivers tested positive for marijuana than alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007 to 2014 the number of nighttime weekend drivers in the U.S. with marijuana in their system increased nearly 50 percent.

In 2015, 21 percent of the 31,166 fatal crashes in the U.S. involved at least one driver who tested positive for drugs after the incident — up from 12 percent in 2005, the NHTSA also found.



Senate Bill 65 Text:

Updated to note date of signing and underscore the new prohibitions amend the law against alcohol consumption while driving or riding in vehicles.