Driving with Marijuana:
California Vehicle Code 23222 B VC

Vehicle Code 23222 b VC makes it an offense for drivers in California to operate a motor vehicle while having an open container of marijuana with them. The law require drivers to transport marijuana containers that are either closed or still sealed. Driving with open containers of marijuana is a violation of California Penal Code Section 23222 b VC and is punishable by a $100 fine.


(b) (1) Except as authorized by law, a person who has in their possession on their person, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (c) of Section 23220, a receptacle containing cannabis or cannabis products, as defined by Section 11018.1 of the Health and Safety Code, which has been opened or has a seal broken, or loose cannabis flower not in a container, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).Legislature.ca.gov

Although many of the restrictions and limitations on marijuana possession have been reduced in recent years, it is still illegal to drive with marijuana except for those authorized by law to possess it. Having marijuana while driving is illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b) VC.

Possessing marijuana while driving under California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b) VC occurs when:

  1. Any driver possesses an ounce or less of marijuana while driving in a motor vehicle upon a highway
  2. AND the driver is not otherwise authorized by law to possess this marijuana.

California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b) VC applies to drivers on any public road, and not just freeways or highways as the term is commonly used. This statute would not, however, apply to defendants on private roads or private driveways.

Those who are authorized by law to possess marijuana would be exempt from this statute. That means those who are licensed marijuana caregivers or patients with valid prescriptions can legally transport small amounts (one ounce or less) of marijuana.

The marijuana does not have to physically be on the defendant’s person, and if marijuana is found anywhere in the vehicle, the defendant may be subject to penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b) VC.


Possessing marijuana in an automobile is an infraction that carries a $100 fine as well as significant court expenses and assessments. This penalty is only enforced if the driver is found with an ounce or less of marijuana in his or her possession. If the driver is found with more than an ounce of marijuana while driving, he or she may be charged with transporting marijuana for sale purposes under Section 11360 H&S of the California Health and Safety Code.

A violation of this section is an infraction (as opposed to a misdemeanor or a felony). The offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $100.

As described above, if the driver is authorized by law to possess marijuana, he or she would not be subject to penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b) VC. In addition, if the driver did not actually possess the marijuana, and instead it belonged to another passenger in the vehicle, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. Furthermore, if the officer lacked reasonable or probable cause to stop or search the vehicle, the resulting marijuana evidence may be suppressed and the charge would have to be dismissed.

A driver can challenge any accusations of violating this law with a legal defense. A few successful defenses include the driver showing that:

  • he/she was legally authorized to possess the drug,
  • he/she was on a private road,
  • the police conducted an unlawful search and seizure.


If you or someone you know have been caught with marijuana while driving, it is critical that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. The early involvement of an effective Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney can lead to charges being entirely dismissed in some situations. 

With many years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Chris Nalchadjian is highly effective at fighting all aspects of marijuana charges. Mr. Nalchadjian understands the consequences a marijuana and DUI conviction can carry and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.

To schedule your free consultation, contact KN Law Firm to speak directly with Mr. Nalchajian . We can be reached 24/7 at 888 950 0011 or through this contact form.

Skip to content