California Vehicle Code 23152(a) makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney, practicing criminal defense law in Orange County, California for 20 years, I have seen countless situations where people are surprised to learn that they can be arrested and charged with DUI on drugs, even if the drug is a prescription drug prescribed to them by their doctor.
When it comes to driving, California law defines “drugs” as any substance other than alcohol that could affect your nervous system, brain or muscles. You are considered “driving under the influence of drugs” when those drugs impair you to the point that you can no longer drive like a sober person under similar circumstances.
Driving under the influence of drugs is investigated and prosecuted differently than driving under the influence of alcohol. In most cases, the stop and roadside investigation is conducted by a drug recognition expert “DRE”, who has been trained to identify drug impairment. Unlike DUI involving alcohol, which specifically makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater, there is no specific number that identifies excessive blood toxicity in a DUI of drugs. For this reason, DUI of drugs is a bit more difficult for the prosecution to prove.
Some defenses that should be considered by a good DUI of drugs defense attorney are: 1) Just because you had drugs in your system does not necessarily mean that you were “under the influence”; 2) there are physical conditions that can be mistaken as the symptoms of drug impairment; and 3) failure to comply with California’s Title 17 procedures, which deals with collection, storage and/or analysis of blood or urine samples.
DUI of drugs is a misdemeanor but can be charged as a felony under certain circumstances such as it being your fourth DUI offense, any prior felony DUI convictions, or your DUI causes an accident that causes injuries to a third party.
The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are much the same as in DUI involving alcohol. A conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.
Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.
If you would like to know more about driving under the influence of prescription drugs, or any DUI charge, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008.