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Drug DUI in California

Arrested for DUID?

Driving-DUIBeing charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) can have serious and life-altering consequences. In the state of California it is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. California law defines “drugs” as substances other than alcohol that have the ability to affect your nervous system, muscles, or brain. You could be charged for DUI drugs when you drive “under the influence” of a substance that impairs your ability to drive like a sober individual in a similar situation.

Can I get a DUI for driving on prescription medicine?

Yes. Driving under the influence of any drug is a crime and you can be prosecuted, regardless of whether the drugs are illicit (cocaine), prescription (codeine), or over the counter drugs such as Nyquil or Tylenol PM.

23152 Subsections A, E, and F

  1. California Vehicle Code 23152(a)  states:  It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
  2. California Vehicle Code 23152(e) states: It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
  3. California Vehicle Code 23152(f) states: It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

Unfortunately, most people are only aware of the alcohol subsection of the California Vehicle Code. As stated, driving under the influence of any substance is grounds for a DUI/DUID charge; even if there is a prescription.

DUID Penalties

Any penalties a person receives from being convicted of a DUID in California are reliant on the factors of their specific case. The unique circumstances of the arrest, whether or not there are previous DUIs on record, and prior criminal history all play a role in determining the penalties and punishments handed down by the court. In the state of California, first-time offenders can usually expect punishments similar to those below when it comes to sentencing:

  • Three years of informal probation
  • A driver’s license suspension of at least six months
  • At least three months worth of driving while impaired education classes
  • A minimum fine of $390 – but with penalty assessment and mandatory fees added, the total will actually come closer to $2,100.
  • Up to a maximum of six-months in county jail

Differences Between DUI & DUID

If you have been arrested for DUI drugs, educating yourself on the procedure in California can help you deal with the situation proactively. DUI Drugs Versus A DUI Alcohol: Although the two charges sound quite similar, there are several key differences between an alcohol DUI and a drug DUI. Consider these facts:

  • Unlike an alcohol DUI, where there is a 0.08% per se blood alcohol content limit, there are no defined per se (level at which impairment is presumed) limits for drugs.
  • If arrested for DUID, a driver is not given a breath test. Instead, s/he is typically given a blood test in the state of California. In rare cases, a urine test may be used instead.
  • An officer cannot rely on the same observations with a DUID charge as they can with an alcohol DUI charge. In California, a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, is often brought in to observe a suspect and later testifies in court.
  • The California DMV cannot administratively suspend a driver’s license for a DUID. The only exception to that rule is when a driver refuses to submit to chemical testing, or has a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more in addition to being under the influence of a drug.

Do I Need A DUI Lawyer?

It is highly recommended.

In California, when being charged with DUID the burden of proof rests solely with the prosecution. This means it is the prosecution’s job to prove you were impaired by drugs while you were driving. Because of this, receiving a DUID charge in California gives the defendant a better chance of defending themselves, with proper representation.

To get a DUID conviction the prosecution must analyze a variety of different factors.

What if an officer’s observations are not be admissible in court?

Perhaps the officer does not have the required training and experience to be qualified to conclude a person is under the influence of drugs.

The blood or urine tests may be found to be inaccurate as well.

These are some of the many possible defenses an experienced DUI Lawyer would evaluate for their client.

NOTE: California DMV does not immediately revoke or suspend a person’s license as done with a DUI charge. However, if convicted, your license can be suspended for a minimum of six months. If you find yourself being charged with a DUI for drugs, finding the right representation should be your first response.