Facing Drugged Driving Charges in California?
California’s drunk driving laws also prohibits drugged driving. To convict a driver of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), prosecutors must prove the person’s driving was impaired by drugs or some combination of drugs and alcohol.
It doesn’t matter what type of drugs impacted a person’s driving. You can be convicted of drugged driving for being under the influence of any substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles and impairs your ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person would reasonably be expected to drive under similar circumstances.
How the Law Defines Driving Under the Influence
For drunk driving, there is a legal BAC limit of .08 that automatically triggers penalties.
But specific drug concentrations cannot be legally defined by their effects on a driver’s performance. This makes it more difficult for prosecutors to prove that a driver’s allegedly erratic behavior was caused by drug use.
When a person is pulled over for erratic driving, the officer is likely to suspect drug use. The officer may request that the driver provide a mouth swab or that they take a Field Sobriety Test, but you are not required to submit to either of these tests.
The officer at a traffic stop may request a that a police officer with special training in detecting drug impermanent known as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) be dispatched to the scene, and a DRE can testify against you in a DUID case.
When a driver is arrested on suspicion of DUID, a blood test may be administered to determine the level of drugs in their system. If the driver refuses to take the blood test, the police cannot administer one without a warrant.
Signs that a driver may be under the influence of drugs include:
- Pulse rate
- Pupil size
- Traces of drugs in mouth or nostrils
- Muscle tone may be rigid or flaccid
- Red or watery eyes
- Slurred speech
- A flushed face
- Unsteady gait
- Lethargic behavior
- Anxious behavior
- Drug paraphernalia in car
- Difficulty performing a Field Sobriety Test
Penalties for DUID in California
You can be convicted for DUID in California for being under the influence of the following substances:
- Illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, or methamphetamines
- Prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Oxycontin
- Legal drugs such as marijuana
- Over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines or cough syrup
A DUID is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California, and the penalties are the same as for driving under the influence of alcohol:
- 3 to 5 years probation
- A fine of about $1,800
- Mandatory DUI school
- A DMV license suspension
- Possible jail time
A DUID may be prosecuted as a felony under the following circumstances:
- A fourth or subsequent offense
- Prior felony DUI or DUID conviction
- The driver caused injury to a third party
Felony penalties for may DUID include:
- Up to 3 years in jail
- Up to 4 years in jail if someone was injured
- Fines of up to $5000
Legal Defenses Against DUID
Your criminal defense attorney will investigate the circumstances of your arrest and develop a defense strategy. Common defenses include:
- No probable cause
- Miranda violation (they didn’t read you your rights)
- Police didn’t follow regulations for collecting, storing, and handling evidence
- Not enough drugs were detected in your system to cause impairment
- The “detection window” for drugs is longer than the period of impairment
Your attorney can argue that there were other reasons why you appeared to be under the influence. Alternate explanations for behavior that may have impaired your driving or your performance in a Field Sobriety Test include:
- Lack of sleep
- Physical injury
Protecting Your Freedom and Your Reputation
A conviction for drugged driving can cost you your job, cause you to lose a professional license, impact your immigration status, and land you in jail. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we’ve been successfully defending people against DUID charges since 1990.
If you’re facing DUID charges, give us a call today at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a FREE consultation. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we’re on your side.
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