MADERA COUNTY – While most people think of a DUI as being someone driving drunk, it also applies to other drugs, including marijuana.
If you are “driving under the influence,” you may very well be considered legally impaired due to the effects of drugs other than alcohol, such as pot and prescription medications.
On July 31, a Madera County Superior Court jury found Francisco Franco, 59, of Fresno, guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana.
Around 4 a.m., on Mar. 6, 2013, a Madera County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted Franco’s vehicle parked in the area of Road 209, just north of the intersection of Highways 41 and 145.
When the deputy approached the vehicle, its lights came on and it started to move, then stopped. The deputy approached Franco and noticed the strong odor of marijuana.
When asked about it, Franco reportedly admitted he had just smoked marijuana before being contacted by the deputy. A subsequent evaluation by a California Highway Patrol officer revealed that Franco was under the influence of marijuana.
Following the jury’s conviction, the court sentenced Franco to three years probation, with three days in custody and a $1,700 fine.
Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz says that driving under the influence of marijuana has become more prevalent following the passage of laws which reduced the penalty for simple possession, or allowed its use for medical purposes.
“While many perceive marijuana as a harmless drug, marijuana and driving is a deadly combination,” says Keitz. “The basic rule applies: do not drive if you consume any drug that impairs you.”
In addition to the Franco conviction, the Madera County District Attorney’s Office has secured convictions in four other jury trials during the first two weeks of August. Keitz praised the hard work of the attorneys, investigators, and staff in his office for their diligent efforts.
Among those convicted:
Victor Alexander Smith guilty of felony domestic violence and two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Wayne Eugene Blair guilty of possession of methamphetamine.
Billy Eugene Childers, Jr., 32, guilty of three felony counts of robbery, felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of ammunition.
Salomon Montejano, guilty on eleven counts of felony molestation of a child under 14 years of age.
“I am very proud of our team.” Keitz commented. “Thanks to their efforts dangerous criminals have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing. Madera County is safer with these people off the streets and locked up in jail.”