Drugged Driving Law
Those arrested under suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs are charged with violating California Vehicle Code 23152. This offense can be charged whether the defendant was believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Prosecutors treat drug DUIs very seriously and will not hesitate to try to issue a maximum sentence for violators.
To prosecute for CPC 23152 for drug DUI, the state has the burden to prove you are guilty of:
- Driving under the influence of drugs including over the counter drugs, prescribed medicines, or hard substances like cocaine
- Knowingly driving under the influence of drugs, and also that you knew that by doing so, the drug would have impaired your judgment and ability to drive in a legal manner
“Drugs” According to California Law
According to California law, “drugs” are considered to be any substance that is not alcohol that can affect a person’s brain, muscles, and/or central nervous system. A person is believed to be driving while under the influence of drugs if the substance impairs their ability to drive like a sober person in the same situation.
Substances That Commonly Result in DUID
When California police officers believe that a driver may be under the influence, but they do not know what substance is impairing driving, they will often require the driver to submit to a blood test. Although driving under the influence of any drug is illegal, it would be hard to prove without any reliable evidence. Because some drugs are not detectable by blood or breathalyzer, the use of those drugs before driving will rarely result in a DUID arrest.
The following are drugs commonly associated with DUID cases:
First developed in the fifties, PCP is also known as Phencyclidine, as well as Angel Dust, Super Grass, or Rocket Fuel. Its role in medicine is for use as an anesthesia. However, modern medicine only reserves this drug for animal treatments. PCP is very potent, given that it can last for more than two days and can also kick in within minutes of use.
Unlike other controlled substances described above, meth acts as a stimulant that speeds up body functions and organs. Other names include meth, crystal meth, ice, speed, and more. It is used medically as a popular treatment for ADHD and obesity.
Having trouble sleeping? Then you’re likely to receive an Ambien prescription, which is used for its sleep-inducing or sedative properties. Many cases have been reported about Ambien’s sleepwalking or sleep-driving side effects. If a driver is caught even in a state of unconsciousness, they could be charged with DUID.
Marijuana walks a thin line between legal and illegal use. This is because it’s now legal for medicinal and recreational use but not to get behind the wheel after consuming the substance. If you’re caught under the influence while driving, you could be prosecuted under California Penal Code 23152(f) and face harsh punishments.
Codeine is a popular prescription medication. Its pain-relieving and sedation qualities have turned this drug into one that’s often abused. Even though an ill patient may be given a prescription to take codeine, it’s still illegal to drive and use it at the same time due to the risk of impairment.
Heroin was first created in 1898 by Bayer. It was quickly pulled from use in medicine due to the devastating consequences of addiction. The name “junkie” was coined when patients who became hooked sold their scrap metals to satisfy this dependence. Other known street names include H-horse, A-bomb, black tar, or smack, and currently, there’s no medical use for heroin.
Hydrocodone is a type of analgesic that makes those who ingest it lethargic. As a result, the medication can cause severe impairment while driving and also risk public safety. When taken in small doses, however, it usually does not have these powerful effects, and a legal team can use this argument as a valid defense for DUID. Another name for this drug is Vicodin.
How Officers Test For Impairment
Unlike alcohol, there is no readily available hand-held device that allows authorities to test those who are believed to be under the influence of drugs. This makes things substantially more difficult to prove that a person is driving drugged by using traditional tests.
More often than not, authorities will call in a drug recognition expert (DRE) to help determine whether or not the suspect is under the influence of narcotics. A DRE is a police officer with special training that helps them determine intoxication. Once a DRE arrives on scene, they conduct an evaluation.
The DRE will:
- Check for any blood alcohol content
- Check the driver’s pulse
- Check for eye jerks (a common symptom of intoxication)
- Administer a field sobriety test
- Examine the driver’s pupils
- Evaluate muscle tone
- Identify injection sites
- Question the driver
- Submit the driver to a blood test
Penalties for a Conviction
Driving while under the influence of drugs can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Which one you will be charged with largely depends upon your specific circumstances and whether or not you have committed any previous offenses.
The following penalties are common for someone convicted for the first time:
- Up to 5 years of DUI probation
- Around $2,000 in fines
- Mandatory attendance at a California DUI school
- Driver’s license suspension
- Time in jail
What If I Didn’t Mean to Drive While Intoxicated?
Unknowingly driving under the influence is an interesting concept that was challenged by Kerry Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s niece, after she was charged with DUI in July of 2012. Although Kennedy testified that she took 10 milligrams of Ambien, got into her car, drove erratically, and eventually sideswiped a tractor-trailer, she was still able to receive an acquittal for her drugged driving charge.
How did she get away with it? Well, her DUID defense attorney was able to convince the jury that Kennedy accidentally took the pills. According to Kennedy’s testimony, she grabbed the wrong pills on the morning of her crash.
Although Kennedy was able to use this defense successfully, she was very lucky. An experienced drugged driving defense lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and see what flaws they can expose.
Get a Seasoned Lawyer on Your Side
If you are facing charges for driving while under the influence of drugs, speaking with one of our skilled Newport Beach attorneys is in your best interest. Without in-depth knowledge of California’s case law, you will be at a disadvantage.