It is against California DUI laws to drive while impaired by drugs, and alcohol. DUID charges carry serious penalties, such as high fines, a permanent criminal record, jail time, as well as other potential long-term implications.
For these reasons, if you are found guilty of DUI, you require legal assistance from an experienced attorney at the California Criminal Lawyer Group. Our attorneys are ready to provide legal assistance to anyone facing Driving Under the Influence of Drug or DUID charges in Anaheim.
What Does Driving Under the Influence of a Drug Mean?
Driving under the influence of drugs is a violation of two California laws:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs, under the California VC 23152(f), and
- Driving while under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, and this is outlawed under California VC 23152(g)
According to VC 23152(f), it is illegal for anyone to operate a car while under the influence of any drug. VC 23152(g) on the other hand stipulates that it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of both drugs as well as any alcoholic beverage.
Under California DUI statutes, a drug is defined as any substance or mixture of different substances besides alcoholic beverages that could have an effect on the user's nervous system, muscle, or brain to the extent that it can significantly impair their capacity to operate a vehicle as a normally cautious motorist, in full control of their faculties and with good judgment, would operate under comparable conditions.
Therefore, "drug" encompasses both lawful and unlawful substances, including cannabis, prescription medicines (even though they don't get the consumer "high,") as well as over-the-counter medicines. Illegal substances include heroin, cocaine, as well as methamphetamine (including cold medicines and antihistamines)
DUI drug allegations typically center on the driver being impaired by marijuana, Ambien, methamphetamine, and prescription opiates like Oxycontin or Vicodin. But even if a motorist is taking a drug because it is important for their health, any drug that affects their nervous system, muscles, and our brains can still be found guilty under this provision.
Is there a Specific Threshold For Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs?
Contrary to the 0.08 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration legal threshold for alcohol, California does not have a particular specified threshold for drugs. This is because specialists cannot concur on what level of drug consumption in the bloodstream constitutes being too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle.
Currently, exact drug concentration limits cannot be consistently associated with effects on driving ability, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So, the law in California merely specifies that it's unlawful to operate a vehicle if you are impaired by drugs, if you are under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, or if you are addicted to any substances (except if you are undergoing rehabilitation in an authorized program to treat your addiction).
How DUID Arrests are Made
A traffic check is often the first step during a DUID inquiry. If the motorist seems to be under the influence, the law enforcement officer will initiate a DUI inquiry.
An officer conducting a DUI investigation might:
- Question the motorist about their use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Request that the driver submit to an initial alcohol screening test using a portable breathalyzer
- Keep an eye out for any physical signs of intoxication, including constricted or dilated pupils.
- Request that the driver complete a few field sobriety tests or FSTs
- Examine the vehicle to check whether there are any substances or paraphernalia present.
If the motorist's blood alcohol concentration is under the relevant "legal threshold" but they still appear drunk, the law enforcement officer could detect drug use. The police officer may then request the assistance of a drug recognition expert, also a DRE to assess the motorist on the spot. To check for drug use in the motorist's bloodstream, the police officer could also request that the motorist consent to a mouth swab drug test.
A drug recognition expert can be described as a police officer who has received specialized training. The officer's specialized training makes it easier for them to identify drug users.
The Los Angeles Police Department initiated the DRE initiative. The California Highway Patrol now controls it. Currently, this application is used by law enforcement organizations all around the country.
DREs aren't present across every California county. Therefore, a DRE examination might or might not be performed on a motorist under suspicion of DUID.
The Twelve-Step Drug Impairment Assessment
The DUI inquiry is taken up by the DRE when he or she gets there. The DRE follows that with a 12-step assessment that involves:
- Verifying that the motorist's BAC does not indicate that they are impaired by alcohol,
- Speaking with the arresting police officer,
- Examining the motorist's visible symptoms, such as his or her pulse rate, size of the pupil, drug traces in the nostrils or mouth, muscular tone (because some medications can make muscles stiff or flabby), and/or tracing marks at suspected site of injection
- Performing a tracking examination of the eyes to look for horizontal gaze nystagmus, or an uncontrollable "twitching of the eyes," that could suggest drug use
- Repeating field sobriety tests, including the Romberg balance, finger to nose, walk and turn, and one leg stand tests
- Inquiring about the motorist's drug usage and generally studying the motorist's actions, and/or
- Requesting that the motorist submits to a urine or blood test for DUI.
Usually, the DRE's assessment session happens in a monitored, well-lit setting (for instance, at a precinct). As opposed to a traditional DUI investigation, which is conducted on the side of the road, this provides a better assessment.
The DRE then will ascertain whether drug usage is the root of the motorist's intoxication and, if it is then, which drugs are to blame.
Rights of a Driver During a DRE Inquiry
Drivers are not required to respond to the Drug Recognition Expert's inquiries or perform the field sobriety tests. It is never too late for a driver to utilize their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
There are also no repercussions for refusing a chemical test till the motorist has been arrested, unless the motorist is presently on probation for a DUI, or he or she is below the age of 21.
When an officer determines there are substantial grounds for a Driving Under the Influence arrest, he or she can detain the driver. Despite popular belief, in a California drunken driving case, the motorist does not usually need to have his/her Miranda rights read to them straight away.
For a DUID charge, the Miranda warning can only be presented if:
- The driver is being held and is not permitted to leave
- The authorities want to interrogate the motorist to get incriminating responses.
- Questions like these may be used to get incriminating responses:
- What substances did you use last night?
- What dosage of the substance did you take?
- Were you high when you were getting inside your car?
It is important to keep in mind that police are not required to recite the Miranda warning while presenting the same queries during the DUI phase of the investigation, that is. before the motorist is detained. When somebody is detained for drunk driving, he or she is usually given the option of completing a DUI breathalyzer test or undergoing a blood test.
A person who has been detained has no statutory right to decline a chemical test. Even though they have already completed a PAS examination on a portable Breathalyzer, drivers are still required to submit to an "investigatory" chemical test.
There are repercussions for refusing to submit to a chemical test, such as immediate license suspension.
When California Law Requires a Blood Test For a DUI
A blood test could be required by enforcement agencies in certain circumstances (even though the motorist has already undergone a breath test after his or her arrest). A motorist can be asked to submit to a blood test when:
- The police officer has probable grounds to think that the motorist was DUID or driving while impaired by both alcohol and drugs
- The police officer is confident that the results of the blood tests will show that the subject is intoxicated
The police will frequently wait to observe if a motorist who takes a breathalyzer test has a Blood Alcohol Concentration that is higher than the legal amount. If so, they usually simply impose the following charges on the motorist:
- Driving while under the influence, in violation of California VC 23152(a)
- Violation of the relevant "DUI per se" California statute, specifically:
- Operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of. 008 percent or higher is prohibited by California VC 23152(b)
- Operating a commercial automobile with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of at least 0.04 percent which is outlawed by California VC 23152(d)
- California VC 23152(e), limousine, ride-sharing, or taxi driver with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.04 percent, or
- Underage DUI (Blood Alcohol Concentration of.05% or higher) under California VC 23140.
However, the authorities will typically request a blood test when the breathalyzer test results are below the legal threshold and the motorist seems to be under the influence. Keep in mind that except if the authorities have a warrant, they cannot collect a motorist's blood forcefully (without the motorist's consent).
When a motorist is detained on allegations of DUID, a blood sample is drawn for a blood toxicology test for DUI. The test shows the substances (if any) identified in the motorist's bloodstream. The amount of drugs identified on the test is usually not stated. It merely states whether the motorist tested positively or negatively for the presence of the drugs.
A "quantitative assessment" can be performed by the lab when the motorist comes back positive for either one or maybe more substances. This can reveal how much of a substance, or several is in the motorist's system.
However, it should be noted that California's DUID legislation does not specify a limit for drugs, like the state's "per se" Drunk driving statutes for alcohol. This is attributable to the fact that specialists disagree on the level of drug usage that renders a person incapable of operating a motor vehicle.
Although the findings of a blood test aren't definitive, the prosecution can nonetheless use them to demonstrate the following:
- That the motorist's system contained drugs
- What dosage of the drug was used, and
- In certain circumstances, a period when the motorist could have used the drugs
However, because neither of these is thought to be conclusive in terms of intoxication, the prosecutor will typically place a strong emphasis on:
- The arresting officer's observations
- The DRE's findings (if any), and
- Expert witnesses' testimonies
Penalties for a DUID
In California, driving under the influence of drugs is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Usually, a felony charge is only brought under the following circumstances:
- This is the accused's 4th or subsequent conviction for DUI
- The accused has at least one previous felony DUI charge
- A third person was significantly hurt or died as a consequence of the accused's impaired driving, or it's the accused's 3rd or succeeding DUI causing harm
Penalties of an Initial California DUI
Many California jurisdictions do not enforce jail sentences for a first-time DUI arrest unless there are injuries to a 3rd party. Instead, typical punishments for a first-time Drunk driving charge entail:
- A three- to five-year informal probation for DUI
- Fines of at least $390 (which, after fees and levies, is typically approximately $1,800)
- A minimum six-month suspension of your driver's license by the DMV
- A mandatory three-month DUI course for drug treatment.
The penalty, under the worst event, may entail up to 6 months in the county jail. For an initial DUI offense, nonetheless, this is often not the case.
Penalties For a Repeat DUI Drug Charge
The conventional punishments for a second or subsequent DUID charges include fines, probationary terms, as well as DUI school. Each successive DUI/"wet reckless" charge carries an automatic enhancement in the obligatory minimum jail term and also a lengthier driving license suspension.
Penalties For Felony DUID
Consequences for felony drugged driving can differ based on the actual charge as well as the accused's record (if any) which could include:
- 16 months to 4 years in state prison or county jail
- Fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, and
- A minimum of one-year license revocation or suspension
- In certain cases, an offender could be placed under formal or felony probation instead of serving all or part of the sentence in prison or jail
Penalties For Refusing a Chemical Test
When accused of driving while impaired, the accused could ask if it is wise to decline to submit to urine and blood testing for drugs. The quick response is that it is a matter of choice. There are repercussions for an accused who declines a chemical examination for DUI, such as:
- Immediate revocation of the driving license for a minimum of a year by the Department of Motor Vehicles
- If the offender is still found guilty of DUI or DUI while under the influence of drugs, they will be sentenced to a minimum of 48 hours in county jail
It is quite challenging to contest this license suspension (even though there are a lot of means to challenge these DUI charges). Additionally, there is a low probability that the offender will receive a jail term if it is their first violation and nobody was harmed.
However, a refusal to submit to a chemical examination could prevent the offender from being found guilty of impaired driving. Any DUI conviction will be considered a previous offense when the driver receives another conviction during the subsequent 10 years. Additionally, your insurance premiums will likely increase.
Driving While Being Addicted to a Drug
Operating a vehicle while being addicted to any substance is prohibited by California's "driving while addicted to a drug" law, found under California VC 23152 (c). This obscure offense is a type of DUI that bears the same consequences as a DUID. An exemption is made if the individual is currently enrolled in an established rehabilitation facility (but it's still unlawful to operate a vehicle while high on drugs).
The prosecution must demonstrate, under Vehicle Code 23152(c), that the motorist was genuinely addicted to certain substances and is not only a recreational or maybe a regular user. The prosecution typically pursued this crime if their DUID claim is poor but the motorist's urine and blood test findings are positive.
Penalties For Possession or Drug Use
Motorists who test positively for illegal drugs may additionally face charges under HS 11550, which refers to driving while impaired by a controlled substance. Additionally, if narcotics or paraphernalia are discovered in the car or on the motorist, they could be prosecuted with:
- Possessing a controlled substance or a violation of California Health and Safety Code 11350
- Possessing drug paraphernalia is prohibited by California Health and Safety Code 11364
Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP, and GHB are among the substances that often result in these kinds of charges.
Factors that Influence the Sentencing for a DUID
The consequences of being found guilty of a drug-related DUI in California can be very different depending on the particular case. When determining a sentence, a court will take the following into account:
- Criminal background of the accused (if any), such as previous DUI charges or wet reckless convictions
- The offense's circumstances
- Whether any 3rd parties were harmed, and
- If a drug rehabilitation program can be beneficial for the accused
Which Legal Defenses are the Most Effective?
Several broad California DUI arguments could be used in cases of DUI, including drugged driving. An expert DUID defense lawyer should constantly look into these sorts of defenses when attempting to refute charges under California VC 23152(f) or California VC 23152(g).
Additionally, there are specialized defenses for defending against California VC 23152(f) or California Vehicle Code 23152(g) charges.
Let us examine every one of these categories of defenses in more detail.
General California DUI Defenses
The following general defenses against driving while intoxicated:
- Law enforcement did not have "probable cause" to perform a DUI inquiry or a traffic stop
- The accused was not adequately informed of his or her constitutional right to remain quiet as well as other Miranda rights before being questioned
The law enforcement officers followed Title 17 under the Code of Regulations protocols for gathering, storing, and processing breath, urine, and/or blood samples.
Some legal arguments are unique to drug DUI allegations under VC § 23152(f) and 23152(g) (g). The strongest of these defenses is that a motorist may have drugs in their system without necessarily being impaired.
There's no proven link between the amount of a substance in a person's system and their level of intoxication. Some drugs have a greater impact on some individuals than on others. Additionally, persons who regularly use drugs for a long time become tolerant of the drugs. This has the seemingly paradoxical effect of making heavy drug users less prone to be affected by these substances than occasional users.
The amount of time a substance can be detectable in somebody's urine or blood after usage or consumption is known as the "detection window." Typically, the detection window is larger than the period during which a person will be intoxicated.
Many variables can influence the specific detection window for the drug, including the users:
- Drug use history
- The method by which the drug is consumed
All of these elements, as well as others, have an impact on the amount of time a person will have the effects of drugs as well as how long the drugs will stay in their system.
Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Driving while under the influence of drugs is a serious offense that often carries harsh consequences. If you have been accused of DUID, you should speak with a knowledgeable Anaheim attorney who can help you build a strong legal defense. We at the California Criminal Lawyer Group, have managed to defend clients accused of DUID. Our lawyers are prepared to provide you with exceptional legal defense to ensure a favorable outcome for your case. Call us at 714-766-0965 to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.