California Drug DUI Law
Driving under the influence charges often involves alcohol, but they can result from drug intoxication as well. According to California's Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a):
It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
This definition is very broad but it refers to any drug, illegal or legal, that causes impairment. Drugs that are included are as follows:
- Illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, etc.
- Prescription drugs like muscle relaxers, pain killers, or sleep aids
- Over the Counter drugs like cough syrup, or Benadryl
A DUI drug charge can result from taking any type of drug. The most common illegal drug is marijuana but any illegal drug from cocaine, to ecstasy, to heroin can allegedly affect your ability to drive and lead to a DUI drug charge. Drug DUI charges can also result from the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Even something as ordinary as allergy medicine can be considered a drug if an officer charges you with DUI. This is a frightening fact because people can be charged with drug related DUIs for taking doctor prescribed medication in its recommended dosage.
What Constitutes Drug Intoxication?
Measuring your impairment in order to charge you with a drug DUI is a complicated process. Currently there is no standard protocol for how to judge drug impairment for DUI. Instead, police officers use their own judgment. If they notice drugs in the car or you admit to have taken any type of drug before driving, this is grounds for them to charge you.
Blood tests and other chemical tests can later be taken to prove that there were drugs in your system but these can be inaccurate because drugs stay in your system longer than alcohol so drugs consumed days before might show up in your tests.
There is also an issue with hoe much drug intoxication leads to impairment. Many drugs tests only show up as positive or negative and do no show the levels of drug in the system. Even when they do, there is no standard guideline that tells how much drug can be present in order to prove intoxication. For example, when a driver is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, their blood alcohol concentration is tested. If it is over .08%, the law considers them impaired. There is no similar procedure for drug intoxication.
California Drug DUI Defenses
When you are arrested for a DUI drug charge in California, the good news is that you have defense options. There are very few studies done that actually correlate drug use with driving impairment. In addition, many police officers are not thoroughly trained to test someone who is driving under the influence of drugs whether illegal or legal. There may be obvious signs such as slurred speech, droopy eyes or evidence of drug use in the car, but they have no way of knowing exactly what type of drugs you may be on until further testing can be done.
Drug testing is not always accurate and the levels of the drug and time it was consumed are hard to pinpoint. Since there is no way to tell for sure exactly when you had taken the drugs and how much you were impaired by them, you can argue that the DUI was not valid.
Drug DUI Penalties in California
The penalties for a DUI and Drug conviction are the same as an alcohol conviction and vary depending on your past criminal history. Driving under the influence of alcohol convictions and drug convictions are all considered DUI offenses and a conviction for either counts as a prior offense if you get arrested for DUI again in the future regardless if the substance involved.
Many DUI drug arrests also lead to drug possession charges if an illegal substance was in the vehicle with you. Many drug DUI charges arise when police notice the odor or see the presence of a drug in the vehicle. Drug possession charges come with their own set of penalties that you will also be responsible for.
DUI and Drug Lawyers
If you are facing charges for a Drug related DUI, call us today. Like any type of DUI charge, the sooner you obtain legal representation, the better. Your license is subject to automatic suspension by the DMV if you do not request a hearing within 10 days for your arrest. In addition to the loss of license, a DUI conviction can have steep penalties including up to a year of jail time.
Our defense attorneys are highly experienced and know how to build strong defenses. Our goal is always to get your DUI charges dropped or reduced to lesser offenses. All DUI cases are defensible regardless of the circumstances.