Similar to alcohol, drugs can impair judgment and make it difficult to drive safely. The legislation, VEH 23152f, explicitly prohibits driving while impaired. According to this legislation, it is considered a crime to drive while under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, legal or illicit narcotics, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

A guilty conviction carries harsh consequences, especially since the offense is priorable. If you are facing these accusations, it is crucial to refute the claims to prevent severe consequences. At Monterey Criminal Attorney, we have extensive knowledge of DUI legislation and will fiercely fight for a better outcome.

An Overview of California's DUID Laws

It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, according to two California statutes. These statutes are:

  • VEH 23152f—This provision prohibits you from operating an automobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • VEH 23152g—This legislation forbids driving while under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.

According to the law, drugs are defined as any substance other than alcohol that impairs the brain, neurological system, or muscles. When someone is impaired, they could be unable to responsibly use their abilities and could be subject to legal repercussions.

In California, drugs include:

  1. Legal substances, such as marijuana.
  2. Lawfully prescribed drugs, even if they don't induce a sense of euphoria.
  3. Illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin.
  4. Over-the-counter drugs, such as cold remedies or antihistamines.

In addition to the various medications that can potentially result in a DUID charge, the following drugs are typically responsible for driver impairment:

  • Prescription Opioids, Oxycontin, and Vicodin.
  • Ambien.
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Marijuana.

Furthermore, if you continue to drive after taking medication that is essential to your health and impairs your ability to drive, you will still be penalized for this offense.

If you face charges for this crime, the prosecutor will need to assess several factors or facts. The jury could dismiss the charges if there is any doubt regarding these factors. Your attorney's role will be to challenge the prosecutor's evidence by presenting an opposing perspective on the facts.

The prosecution needs to prove the following factors:

  • You operated an automobile.
  • You were either under the influence of drugs or intoxicated when you drove it.
  • You were driving at the time of your arrest, despite having a drug addiction.
  • Due to your inebriation, you drove carelessly, irresponsibly, and dangerously.

DUID's Legal Impairment Limit

A frequently asked question by individuals apprehended for DUID offenses is if there's a permissible limit to drug impairment when behind the wheel. Unfortunately, unlike drunk driving, there is no legal limit for drugged driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are currently no guidelines on the minimum drug concentration that is known to impair driving ability.

According to the claim mentioned earlier, the quantity of drugs in your system and the impairment they cause are irrelevant. Furthermore, it is illegal to drive after consuming alcohol and drugs simultaneously. It is also illegal to drive if you are addicted to drugs and not undergoing treatment for your addiction.

The DUID Arrest Procedure

Arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) are comparable. Typically, if an officer observes suspicious driving behavior on the highway, they will stop you for further inquiry. The police officer will initiate an investigation if you appear to be impaired.

During the inquiry, the policeman will:

  • Inquire about your habits related to drug and alcohol use.
  • Request that you participate in a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS).
  • Consent to field sobriety testing (FST).
  • Take note of any visible signs of impairment, such as dilated or constricted pupils.
  • Search for narcotics or items used for narcotics.

If you appear drunk, even after performing a breathalyzer test with results within the legal limit, law enforcement officers could suspect drug usage. In this situation, it might be necessary to have a drug recognition expert (DRE) assess you. Additionally, the officer could ask you to submit to a mouth swab to determine if you have any drugs in your system.

A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is an officer who specializes in determining whether a person is under the influence of drugs. The DRE program, which originated in the police department, was eventually taken over by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). If the examination is completed and the officer determines that you are impaired by drugs, you will be taken into custody for additional chemical testing and could face charges.

How to Assess Drug Impairment

A DRE evaluates you before your arrest and accusation of driving under the influence of drugs. This analysis includes:

  • Verifying your blood alcohol content does not necessarily imply alcohol impairment.
  • The police officer conducting the arrest is conducting an interrogation.
  • Recognizing your bodily symptoms includes observing track marks, muscular tone, pulse rate, and pupil size, and checking for any drug residue in your mouth or nose.
  • Monitor your eyes' response using the horizontal gaze nystagmus exercise.
  • Carry out the FSTs again.
  • By observing your behavior and conducting an interview with you about your drug use.
  • Undergo a chemical screening, which could involve both urine and blood samples.

It's important to understand that a roadside DRE examination is not comprehensive. While experts can be called to the scene, their location could change if further investigation is deemed necessary. The ideal environment for the examination is well-lit and free from external distractions.

These types of rooms are common in police stations, making them the ideal location for further investigation. The officer will determine the drugs you consumed and assess whether your impairment is a result of drug usage after conducting the inquiry.

Your Rights After the Investigation

It is understandable to feel astonished, bewildered, and afraid during an ongoing inquiry or if you get pulled over. The police could try to take advantage of your vulnerability and coerce you into confessing to wrongdoing. However, by knowing your rights, you can protect yourself and prevent this from happening.

You have the freedom to refuse to answer DRE questions or comply with FSTs, as it is one of your basic rights. You can invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and choose not to incriminate yourself during the procedure. If you are not under arrest, you won't face any consequences for refusing to comply.

Nevertheless, in this context, your rights are restricted if:

  • You are currently undergoing a probationary period for a DUI.
  • You are under 21 years old.

The Arrest

You could be apprehended or released after the above-described process if there is a probable reason. If the police arrest you for DUID, you will be informed of your Miranda rights and not allowed to leave. Furthermore, if the cops choose to question you further, you will be informed of your Miranda rights to protect you from being forced to testify against yourself.

You should exercise caution when responding to certain questions that could potentially implicate you, such as:

  • Which brand of medication did you use?
  • How many drugs did you take or possess?
  • Were you already high when you started driving?

Miranda rights are only read to someone after they have been arrested; they are not read before or throughout the inquiry.

Chemical Testing After an Arrest

A breath or blood chemical test is typically used to determine the level of intoxication if you are arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Before an official arrest, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test. However, once you are officially arrested, the situation changes. Refusing a chemical test after an arrest carries several consequences, including a license suspension.

A breathalyzer test can detect drugs in your bloodstream, but not alcohol. Unlike a blood chemistry test, this test is standard and does not require the officer to obtain a court order. The officer will assume that you are drug-impaired if the results of your breathalyzer test reveal either no alcohol in your system or low levels.

In these situations, the police officer will ask you to undergo a drug test using either urine or blood. If you refuse a blood test, the officer could obtain a court order to collect your blood sample for analysis. Once your blood is extracted, a toxicology specialist will screen it to detect any drugs in your system. The screening will provide a list of any drugs that are found.

Nevertheless, the test only indicates the presence or absence of drugs in your system; it does not provide the exact amount of medication in your blood. If the tests show that you are using multiple drugs, a quantitative analysis is usually conducted to determine the specific levels of these chemicals in your blood. Unlike alcohol intoxication, there is no per se statute for drug-related impaired driving (DUID), meaning there is no predetermined threshold of drug concentration in your system that automatically leads to a charge.

As a result, the law only considers you to have committed a DUID if you drive under the following circumstances:

  • Impaired or intoxicated by drugs.
  • Impaired by both drugs and alcohol.
  • When you abuse drugs and do not receive treatment for your addiction.

Blood test results are not always conclusive, but when they indicate drug use, the prosecutor can use that information to strengthen their case and secure a conviction A DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) becomes an essential tool for the prosecution and a toxicology expert to demonstrate:

  • Drugs were present in your system.
  • The quantity of drugs found was significant.
  • If relevant, provide the duration for which you’ve taken the medications.

Despite all of this, it’s not enough to determine that you were under the influence of drugs while driving an automobile. The prosecutor heavily relies on the observations made by the arresting officer, the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and the evidence provided by a toxicological expert to build a solid case.

What To Expect in a DUID Trial

You are typically free to leave and return for your trial at a later time after posting bail for driving while under the influence of drugs. During the trial, both your lawyer and the prosecutor will make opening arguments. Following the hearings, the judge allows both sides to present their cases to the jury.

While your counsel challenges the evidence used against you, the prosecution is required to establish the various aspects of the charge that were previously discussed. The DREs and the arresting officer's testimony are crucial pieces of evidence for the prosecution.

Normally, if the police stop you on suspicion of driving under the influence, they will administer a breathalyzer test. It's important to note that breathalyzer tests for DUIs can only detect alcohol in your system and cannot detect any medications. Even if you pass the breathalyzer test, the officer could still observe signs of intoxication, which could prompt them to further investigate the situation.

A conviction often relies heavily on the testimony of the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). VEH 23152 and 23152(g) specify that the officer's specialized training in drug recognition enhances the persuasiveness of this evidence. The expert undergoes training to effectively present their evidence and convince the jury. They begin by summarizing their background and education, with their statement typically focusing on the following points:

  • A declaration that alcohol was not the cause of your impairment.
  • Proof that there was no underlying medical condition and that you were only high on drugs.
  • Determining that you were hampered by one or more drugs.

The DRE will thoroughly discuss the evaluation process and provide evidence to back their conclusions to persuade the jury of your violation. The drug expert's conclusion can suggest that you were under the influence because of:

  • Central nervous system depressants, like valium or soma.
  • Cannabis.
  • A stimulant similar to cocaine that affects the central nervous system.
  • A hallucinogen similar to euphoria.
  • Narcotic analgesics such as codeine or Vicodin.
  • GHB, as well as others.

The Legal Consequences of a DUID Offense

If someone is found guilty of operating a car while under the influence of narcotics, the punishment is severe. As mentioned earlier, both DUI and DUID offenses are considered priorable offenses. This means that whether or not you have been convicted of the same crime before will usually determine the length of your sentence.

The penalties for this infraction are less severe if you're a first-time offender compared to being a repeat offender. Typically, your sentence is determined based on 10 years since your initial conviction.

A first conviction for DUID offense results in a misdemeanor conviction, which carries a minimum sentence of 96 hours in jail but no more than 6 months. The judge could choose to impose misdemeanor probation and a substantial fine ranging from three hundred ninety dollars to a thousand dollars instead of sending you to jail.

If this is your first offense, you will face harsher penalties, including a minimum six-month suspension of your driving rights. Additionally, the court has the authority to require you to enroll in a DUI school for substance abuse counseling and treatment. The charges for a second offense of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) within ten years are more serious.

It's important to note that unless there are aggravating circumstances that elevate the violation to a felony, it remains a misdemeanor. If convicted of a second DUID offense, the potential sentence could range from a minimum of ninety days to a maximum of one year in county jail.

In addition, if convicted of a second DUID offense, the judge could sentence you to misdemeanor probation and impose a fine of up to $1, 000. In California, attending DUI school and having your driving privileges suspended for two years are additional penalties for a second DUID conviction.

Similar to a second conviction, a third conviction can lead to a harsher punishment. Even without aggravating circumstances such as serious physical harm or death, the offense is still treated as a misdemeanor. If you are found guilty for the third time, you could face a minimum sentence of four months in county jail and a maximum penalty of one year.

Additionally, there is a possibility of being fined between $390 and $1,000 and receiving a criminal probation sentence. You will also be required to attend DUI school and have your driver's license suspended, just like with your previous convictions.

A fourth conviction within ten years carries a harsher penalty. At this point, the offense is classified as a wobbler, which means it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor convictions have a minimum term of 120 days in county jail, with a maximum sentence of one year. However, a felony conviction carries a more severe sentence of up to 3 years in prison.

In addition to the jail term and the suspension of your driving privileges, there will be a financial fine. In certain situations, the judge could also impose probation and require you to attend DUI school.

Defenses Against DUID Charges

Strict responsibility applies to charges of DUID, meaning that you don't have to have planned to commit a crime before actually doing it. Additionally, a conviction for this offense is not dependent on your perception or feeling of sobriety.

In any case, you will need the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer to defend yourself against the accusations. Your lawyer will review the prosecutor's case and conduct interviews with you to build a defense strategy. Several arguments can be made based on the specifics of the offense, including:

You Weren't Impaired

If you did not use drugs while operating the car, you are not guilty of a DUID. It cannot be assumed that using medication would have made you less coherent. To use this defense, your attorney will need to contest the results of the chemical test and call an expert witness to refute the prosecution's evidence. Your attorney can prove your innocence by demonstrating that the level of drugs in your system was not substantial enough to cause impairment.

You Didn't Drive While Inebriated

The fact that you drove or operated a car while under the influence of drugs is a crucial piece of evidence. However, if the arresting officer only saw you dozing off in the vehicle due to alcohol, it could not be considered evidence of you driving. Your attorney could argue that you decided to sleep off the effects of the medications after taking them before operating the vehicle. If this defense is strong and credible enough, it could support the argument that you shouldn't be sent to jail.

Unintentional Intoxication

In certain situations, it is possible to unknowingly consume a drug without realizing it. For example, let's say you were at a party and had only one drink, unaware that it contained a substance that could impair you. If you were later found to have been drugged but did not know of it, and the prosecution cannot prove that you willingly took the drugs, you would not be held responsible for the crime.

In addition to these and many other defenses, your lawyer can contest the test findings to refute the allegations. It's important to note that both chemical and field testing have limitations and are not foolproof. There have been previous reports of tampered, tainted, or mixed test results.

Another defense tactic your lawyer could use to counter a strict sentence is plea bargaining. You have the option to enter a guilty plea to a reduced charge or enter a not-guilty plea if the prosecutor's case is weak. By doing this, you can typically avoid going to jail or receive a less severe sentence.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

The details of your arrest and case are crucial if you are charged with a DUID. These details can have an impact on your criminal conviction or potential release. With the assistance of our defense attorneys at Monterey Criminal Attorney, you can use these facts to build a strong defense that could lead to the dropping of charges or a reduced sentence. Call us today at 831-574-1791 to discuss your case further and strategize on how to challenge your DUID accusations.