California DUI laws are applicable in both instances where the "influence" of driving under the influence was as a result of alcohol and when it is a result of illicit drug use. Illicit drugs include not just illegal recreationally used drugs, or street drugs, but also misused prescription drugs, even if it is your prescription. Any substance, alcohol or otherwise, that can impair someone's ability to drive can be considered for the purposes of a DUI. Such substances can include anything that can affect one's ability to drive safely and obey the laws of the road, like alcohol, sleeping pills or cocaine. The burden is on you, as a Californian with driving privileges, to know what effect your prescription drugs will have before you take them and get behind the wheel. Not realizing what kind of affect they will have is not enough of a defense in most DUI cases. A drug DUI, also called drugged driving, carries with it much of the same consequences of an alcohol related DUI. A first time DUI carries with it a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in jail along with up to several thousands in fines and penalties. You will also have to attend alcohol education classes; possibly install an Ignition Interlock Device, or IID, in addition to having your license suspended. Even though you can get a DUI for driving while impaired from any substance, there are a few differences in being charged with a DUI for alcohol versus a drug DUI. At the time of arrest, you will not be given a breathalyzer to establish your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC level, like for alcohol related DUIs, unless of course the officer has reason to believe you had been drinking. You may be evaluated by a drug recognition expert for signs of impairment and you may be given a blood test to establish the presence of certain chemicals in your system. That being said, there is no set cut off point for the level of drugs in your system to convict you. The presence of any chemical in illicit quantities is enough evidence for a conviction. For prescription drugs, you may be asked to verify your prescription and if you were found to be misusing that prescription, you can be charged with a DUI and potential drug possession charges. For example, if the arresting officer found several bottles of an opiate prescription pain medication, more than any one person would need for pain relief, in your car and your were later tested for the presence of this drug you may be charged with a drugged DUI. Opiates in particular are said to impair your driving in any level so federally mandated warnings on each bottle are required to notify patients of the danger of driving while taking them. The process of collecting evidence for prosecution is more holistic than just measuring your Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC level. California has special trained officers to evaluate the effects of drugs on a driver. He or she will look for the signs of driving under the influence much like an officer would look for common signs of alcohol consumption during a field sobriety test. If it is discovered you had been driving while under the influence of drugs, any drug, you can be lose your license under the California Department of Motor Vehicle Administrative Per Se program. Under this program, a first offense will result in a suspension of four months, with subsequence offences resulting in longer periods of suspension. Also, if you are asked to take a chemical test to establish the presence of any drugs or alcohol in your system and refuse, your license will be automatically suspended for one year, regardless if you were drinking or not. Along with all the consequences of getting a DUI charge, you may also face other drug-related charges such as possession if you have someone else's prescription or illicit use of drugs if you are misusing your own prescription. Possession of an illicit substance can result in up to one year in jail plus a fine and probation. You may also be ordered to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation. Driving while doing drugs is a dangerous thing to do if you are impaired in any way. In any case, it is criminalized in the state of California and can result in time behind bars and several other serious consequences. If you are facing DUI charges from drugged driving, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An experienced attorney will be able to listen to your story and recommend a plan of action that will ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are being charged with a DUI for drugged driving, call experienced DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.