DUI of Prescription Medication

Understanding DUID Charges in California

If you have been issued a prescription drug medication by your doctor, you need to understand the influence it can have on your driving ability. It is illegal in California to drive if the medication you are taking in any way impairs your ability to operate a vehicle soberly. The prescription may be legal, but it is considered a DUID (driving under the influence of drugs), and if it impairs your driving, it is illegal.

If you are being charged with a DUID from Los Angeles County, an officer has determined you were impaired. They may have requested you to perform a field sobriety test (FST), a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS), or even checked your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If they have not found the source of your actions, they may have called a drug recognition expert (DRE).  A DRE officer is trained to determine if a person is under the influence of narcotics.

You will need representation if being charged with a DUID. Legal counsel will protect your rights and ensure all tests performed were done so in a legal fashion and that results are accurate for your case. Having an experienced lawyer working with you could make your outcome much more favorable.

California Vehicle Code 23152(f) and 23152(g)

California Vehicle Code 23152(f) states it is illegal for anyone to drive under the influence of drugs (DUID). This crime occurs when a person is taking medication that prohibits them from operating a vehicle as a sober person would under similar conditions. This includes:

  • All drugs whether over-the-counter (OTC), illegal, or prescription
  • All drugs combined with alcohol

California usually charges DUIDs as a misdemeanor, and if convicted you will face the same penalties as those accused of a DUI (driving under the influence).

  • Up to $1,800 in fines
  • Required attendance at a California DUI school
  • Three to five years of probation
  • Jail time is possible
  • Suspension of your driver's license

If you are found guilty under the California Vehicle Code 23152(f)  (driving under the influence of drugs) or 23152(g) (driving under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcohol), it can also be charged as a felony. This charge occurs if:

  • If you have injured another person
  • You have had prior felony DUI convictions
  • It is your fourth or more DUI offense

With the conviction of a felony DUID, you could be facing:

  • A fine of $1,000 and up to $5,000 if another person has been injured
  • A jail sentence of three years or up to four if another person has been injured

California Definition of a 'Drug'

Under the California Vehicle Code 23152(f) and 23152(g) a drug is defined as: "A substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinary person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances."

These drugs would then be illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, or legal drugs like marijuana. The law also considers prescription medications that will impact your thinking and response times like sleeping pills or Vicodin as drugs. It also includes the over-the-counter medicines that can impair your actions while driving as drugs.

While there is no set 'limit' for drug levels like the BAC legal limits set for alcohol, California law states it is illegal for you to drive if under the influence of any amount that impairs your driving abilities.

Drug Impairment Evaluation

Contact an attorney as soon as you are able to ensure you are given the proper testing during the investigation. The results from the drug impairment evaluation performed by the DRE officer will impact the outcome of your case. With the possible jail time, hefty fines, and information placed on your permanent file, you want to make sure your case is handled fairly and accurately. During a drug impairment evaluation you can expect:

  • Several checks of your pulse rate
  • Search of your mouth and nostrils for drugs
  • Search for injection sites or 'track marks'
  • An eye tracking exercise

The officer may also request a repeat of some of the tests performed by the arresting officer including:

  • Walk and Run test
  • Finger to nose test
  • Balance test
  • One leg stand test

Having an experienced DUI attorney with you through these requests will protect your rights.

California Law for DUI Blood Tests

There are certain conditions under California Law where law enforcement can require you to provide a DUI blood test. If the officer has reasonable cause to believe you were DUID or under the combination of alcohol and drugs, they can request you perform a test. If the officer believes this test will be evidence of your influence, it can also be requested.

How Blood Test is used for DUID Case

The blood test will reveal a list of drugs detected in your system. It does not list amounts, only whether or not you tested positive or negative for them being in your system. If needed, they can perform an additional 'quantitative analysis' test to determine the amount of the substance showing.

It has not been decided what quantity of drugs will make you impaired to drive, therefore; California law does not have a set 'over the limit' amount. This decision does not impact the prosecutor from providing this information in court along with the DRE report and any eyewitness that can state you had taken drugs before getting behind the wheel.

What Should You do if Stopped

You are not required to answer questions if your attorney is not present. The questions asked will be ones that could incriminate you, so having your legal counsel present is essential should your case go to court.

The field sobriety tests are not required by law so you can decline them if you feel they will injure your outcome and unless you are under the age of 21 can also refuse the handheld breath test.

Under California law when you are provided a driver’s license, you agree to submit to breath and blood testing if arrested. This process is known as 'implied consent.' Even with the implied consent in place, it is still your choice to perform the tests, however; there may be consequences.

The consequences could be suspension of your driver’s license and stiffer penalties if convicted of the DUID charge. Should your license be suspended, your lawyer can call the DMV within ten days to demand a hearing so it can be reinstated.

Myths Surrounding the DUID 

There are a lot of myths out there regarding being stopped for the suspicion of DUI or DUID making people think they should just plead guilty. One of the biggest is that people accused of DUI or DUID are guilty. This myth is not true, and your attorney can help you reduce or eliminate charges placed on you by law enforcement, do not plead guilty unless recommended by your legal counsel.

Another myth is drunk driving is a minor offense. This statement is not true as California takes drunk driving very seriously. It is at the lease a misdemeanor and could even be charged as a felony.

Some people state that any attorney can defend you if you've been accused of a DUI or DUID. This myth has no amount of truth. If you want proper representation, you need a lawyer with experience dealing with DUI and who has the knowledge of California law in regards to these charges. You want a lawyer who knows the way around the court system in Los Angeles County and who will work hard to reduce or remove all charges.

DUI and DUID defense are a technical and highly specialized field. When you choose an attorney, they will have to have access to professional expert witnesses who understand the procedures followed by the police during blood or breathe analysis. They need to know if blood or breath tests should be reexamined and have the resources to follow up. Your attorney should also have a record of defending other DUI and DUID cases with a good success rate.

Contacting a DUI of Prescription Medication Attorney Near Me

Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel have the expertise you need to represent you during this difficult time. Our DUI attorney understands the California Law and has over 32 years of proven experience working with DUI cases. He has worked with prosecutors and initiated proactive measures for his clients to achieve dismissal and reduction of charges. You need an attorney on your side who knows the judges, the prosecutors, court system, and the laws and who will strive to find you the best possible resolution. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at 818-582-2350.

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