DUI Drugs

Most people think that DUI only involves drunk driving, but this is an acronym that standards for “Driving Under the Influence.” Thus, DUI involves both driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUID), which can be charged as separate offenses. 

A DUID arrest is similar to a DUI arrest in that a police officer stops your car for suspecting that you are driving under the influence of drugs because of how you are driving your vehicle. Maybe you are violating traffic rules or committed other driving offenses. Worse case, you might be involved in a car accident, even if it is another driver’s fault and the on-the-scene cop suspects that you have taken drugs.

Note that both illegal drugs and prescription medicines can land you a DUID charge. Thus, it is advisable to seek help from an Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer if you find yourself in this situation.

Various Definitions of Drugs

Drugs are substances that are planned for use in the treatment, prevention, mitigation, cure, or diagnosis of diseases in humans, and any substance other than oxygen, water, or food that is intended to affect the body and mental functions of humans.

The Vehicle Code 23152(f) and (g) defines a drug as a substance or mixture of substances, except alcohol, that can affect the brain, muscles, and nervous system of an individual that it would noticeably impair his/her ability to drive like a sober person, in full control of his/her faculties, and using rational care, under the same road conditions.   

In the scientific world, drugs are listed as articles that can affect your neurological and biological states. They can be synthetic such as sedatives or amphetamines or organic such as marijuana. Drugs can be inhaled via the nostrils, swallowed, applied on the skin, injected with a needle, smoked, or taken as a suppository. 

Whichever drug you take or how you consume it, you should never drive while under the influence of drugs - there is a high chance that you will end up being charged for DUID.

Common Types of DUI Drugs

Drugs – whether illegal, over-the-counter, or prescription drugs – can impair your driving skills, including hearing, judgment, reaction time, vision, and simultaneous task accomplishment/processing. Driving also requires cognitive skills like psychomotor skills and information processing, which might be impaired by drugs.

When drugs are used together with alcohol, the effect can be even more devastating. However, what are these drugs that can land you a DUID charge when driving? Some of these drugs include:

  1. Marijuana

Marijuana has been shown to impair the user’s driving ability. It affects your concentration level and makes it difficult to perceive distance and time, which can result in reduced reaction time, lousy judgment, poor speed control, distraction, drowsiness, and inability to read signs.

When you combine marijuana with alcohol, it leads to more significant impairment in different areas such as coordination and reaction time. If you combine it with opiates and sedatives, it can result in heightened anxiety and hallucinations, as well as a rise in blood pressure and heart rate when abused with amphetamines.

On the flip side, the effects of marijuana are unpredictable when you combine it with stimulants like cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, and amphetamines.

  1. Cocaine

Cocaine can successfully mask fatigue, which usually affects driving. Besides, high doses of cocaine can impair your judgment and affect your ability to concentrate while driving. Your vision and coordination are also affected by cocaine.

There is also an increase in unwary behavior with tendencies to create confusion and take more risks when driving. A driver using cocaine creates an illusion of being more alert and activate, although his or her physical reaction is impaired.

Cocaine effects are increased when combined with prescription drugs and other over-the-counter drugs like antihistamines and diet pills. When taken with psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, this drug can lead to fatal accidents.

An individual who has high blood pressure and abuse cocaine can suffer from a heart attack or stroke when driving.

  1. Tranquilizers

The use of tranquilizers can lead to drowsiness, altered perceptions, slow reaction time, poor control of speech, memory impairment, and a lack of coordination. The effects on driving also include neglecting roadside instructions, poor tracking, and difficulty in maintaining your lane.

When tranquilizers are used together with central nervous system depressants or alcohol, they can produce synergistic effects which can lead to fatal accidents. Alcohol boosts its absorption rate and can result in respiratory and cardiovascular depression.

  1. Opiates

Opiates cause mental confusion, visual impairment, and drowsiness even at low, moderate dosages. A driver driving under the influence of opiates can have a hard time trying to maintain the right lane and can make fatal errors.

Again, when used with alcohol, opiates can result in respiratory arrest and even death.

  1. Amphetamines

The use of these drugs can lead to impaired vision, lack of concentration, and increase the tendency to take risks. You should never take these drugs with MAO inhibitors even if you are not driving since they can lead to a hypertensive crisis.

Amphetamine users often use depressant drugs and marijuana to minimize its side effects, creating heightened drug dependencies.

Common Classes of DUI Drugs

The following classes of drugs can also lead to a DUID charge:

  • Pain reliever – The common culprits are codeine and morphine because they cause disorientation, euphoria, dizziness, and sleepiness. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen might not lead to dizziness and drowsiness but can lead to relaxation, which is not ideal for a driver.
  • Antihistamines – One major problem with these drugs is that people fail to read the label thinking that all antihistamine drugs are non-drowsy. Watch out for their ingredient to know the one that will not impair driving.
  • Antidepressants – Some of these drugs, like Tricyclics, Nefazodone, and Trazodone, can lead to slow reaction time and drowsiness in some people. Others such as Lexapro, Celexa, and Prozac can make you feel tired when driving.
  • Antihypertensives – Some blood pressure drugs can cause listlessness, which can zap your energy when in the middle of the road.
  • Antianxiety agents and muscle relaxants – There are prescription drugs such as Xanax and Valium that can cause a tranquilizing effect on your body and lead to impaired judgment as well as slow reaction times.
  • Stimulants – You might think that a substance that keeps you awake, such as Red Bull and Caffeine pills, would be great for driving. The reality is that they make you more careless and pay less attention to the small details when driving.

Drug combinations or poly-drug use can cause the following reactions:

  • Additive effects – When they produce a simple outcome, like 1+1 =2
  • Synergistic effects – This is when the two drugs produce a result that is greater than their sum, like 1+1 = 3
  • Antagonist effects – Here, the combined drugs produce an effect that is less than if you took one of the drugs, like 1+1 = 0

While most DUI drug changes involve drivers using prohibited drugs, cops also look for drivers abusing prescription medicines such as morphine and valium. The allowed level of prescription drugs is much higher, to ensure that people get the right treatment as recommended by doctors.

Therefore, you should consult your doctor before driving, and the state allows you to drive after taking prescription drugs.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Laws

There are 2 laws that the accuser uses to prove DUID - both are part of the Vehicle Code Section 23152. 

The first law is the Vehicle Code VC 23152(e), which states that it is unlawful for an individual who is under any substance or drug to drive a car.

The second law is the Vehicle Code VC 23152 (f), which states that it is unlawful for an individual under the influence of a drug and alcohol to drive a car.

There is no permissible limit in law. DUI of alcohol or drugs or a combination is all that is needed to prove a DUI case in Orange County.   

Proving a DUI of Drug Case in Orange County

The jury instruction number 2110 set forth the requirement for proving a DUID case. It goes as follows:

To prove that the driver is guilty of the crime, the accuser must prove that:

  • The accused drove the car
  • When the accused used the vehicle, he or she was DUI of a drug or a combination of drug and alcohol

The jury instruction also states that an individual is DUI if, as an effect of taking a drug or taking a drug and alcohol, his or her physical or mental abilities are hindered that he or she no longer operate a car with the same soberness and caution of a sober driver, using reasonable care, under the same conditions.

As seen from the instructions, the law requires the accuser to prove that indeed, the accused person drove the car, and he or she was under the influence of drugs. There is also a definition of what driving under the influence is all about.

Penalties of Being Convicted of a DUID Offence

These penalties are found under Vehicle Code 23152 (f). Generally, DUI of drugs is usually charged as a misdemeanor in Orange County and other California Counties. It upgrades to a felony if:

  • It is the accused fourth or subsequent DUID or DUI offense
  • The accused has a past conviction for even a single DUI felony
  • Other people were injured or killed due to the accused’s drugged driving, or it’s the accused third or successive DUI leading to third-party injuries

Misdemeanor DUID Penalties

The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI of drugs are the same as DUI of alcohol. These penalties include:

  • A three to five years probation
  • A fine of about $1,000 if you are a first-time offender
  • Admission to a California DUI school
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Possible jail time

Felony DUID Penalties

If your case is upgraded to a felony due to reasons looked above, you can expect to face the following consequences:

  • A maximum of 3 years in jail or up to four years if another person was injured and/or,
  • A fine maximum fine of up to $1,000 or $5,000 if another person was injured.

Additionally, if you refused to take a urine or blood test, the accuser can add “refusing” to facilitate a chemical test charge that adds a mandatory county jail sentence of a maximum of 48 hours. Besides, if you are driving under the influence of a specific drug that is illegal under Health and Safety Code 11550, you might be charged with an additional offense as well.  

If convicted, the additional charge will attract a compulsory 90 days minimum jail sentence. Nevertheless, this charge allows first-time offenders to take part in a drug digression program under Penal Code 1000 instead of jail time.   

There are other consequences of being convicted with a DUID, making it even more important to seek the service of an Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer. They include the following:

  • Having a criminal record – Your record will have a criminal element when a potential employer or landlord conducts a background check since DUI of drugs is a criminal offense. This way, you might lose a job opportunity if you are convicted of wrongdoing.
  • Loose of commercial driving license – You might end up losing your commercial driving license if you are convicted with a DUID offense. This can mean a loss of future earnings.
  • Paying higher car insurance premiums – Insurance companies are likely to charge you more if they find a DUID conviction on your record.
  • Purchase of SR22 – If your license is suspended, you will be forced to purchase the SR22 certificate indicating that you have the least liability coverage needed by California law before your license can be reinstated.

Defending a DUID Charge in Courts

It doesn’t mean that you are guilty because you have tested positive for substances in your blood or urine. After all, these tests are not 100% accurate.

There are a lot of general DUI defenses that can apply to your DUI drug charge. However, you should hire an experienced Orange County DUI Defense Attorney when exploring them to fight your charges.

Also, there are specific defenses for fighting specific DUID charges. Here is an outline of the two types of defenses.

General DUI Defenses

General defense for DUI of alcohol and drugs can include taking the following stands:

  1. There was an absence of “credible cause” for police to initiate a DUI investigation or a traffic stop.
  2. The accused was not correctly advised or his or her “right to remain silent” and other rights before being grilled.
  3. The officer did not correctly follow the Code of Regulations Title 17, which specifies procedures of collecting, keeping, and evaluating blood, breath, and/or urine samples.

Your attorney can show that they were common mistakes done by the cop that leads to when applying the third defense, including:

  • Incorrect blood draws
  • Contaminated medical equipment
  • Improper storage of the samples
  • Wrong handling of drug test

Such mistakes can invalidate the rest results and possible result in your case being terminated. Moreover, while the examination reveals the presence of drugs, it does not show the quantity taken – many professional drug experts won’t even testify against you since there is no scientific relationship between impairment and the amount of drug taken. 

Lastly, it is possible that illness, allergies, fatigue, and nerves could have made you look like you were operating your car under the influence of drugs, but that might not be the case.

Defense Specific to DUID

Specific legal defenses apply to charges of DUI of Drugs under Vehicle Code section 23152(f) and 23152(g). Of all these defenses, the most powerful one is that having substances in your system doesn’t necessarily mean you are driving under their influence.

People are usually affected by drugs different, some more than others. As well, users develop tolerance to these drugs over time when they use them regularly. This means that regular drug users are less likely to be affected by drugs in their blood than first-time users. 

Driver’s Rights During DUI of Drugs Investigation

As a driver, you do not have to provide answers to any question or participate in field sobriety tests. You can exercise your Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating yourself.

Moreover, unless or until you are placed under arrest, the cop cannot charge you with a refusal to take a chemical rest unless:

  • You are under the age of 21 years
  • You are currently on a Driving Under the Influence probation

Commonly Asked Questions about DUID

There are many questions that people charged with a DUID ask. They include the following:

Q: Is medical marijuana a defense?

You should note that even if you are an authorized marijuana user for medical purposes, you cannot use this as a defense against DUID charges. Additionally, you cannot defend yourself on the medical ground if you are impaired by a narcotic painkiller.

The critical argument of Driving Under the Influence of Drug charge is whether you were impaired or not, not whether the substance was legally in your hand. Thus, if you get impaired using prescription medicines or marijuana, then it won’t matter to the court whether it is legal or an illegal drug.

Q: How does a driver get arrested for DUID?

Driving under the influence of drug investigation usually starts with an officer stopping you. If you appear impaired, the cop will initiate a DUI investigation to find out if you are driving under the influence of any substance.

The offer may do the following things during the investigation:

  • Ask you questions about your drug use and/or drinking
  • Request you to participate in a preliminary drug screening test or alcohol screening test on a breathalyzer
  • Ask you to complete a couple of field sobriety test
  • Look for any physical symptom of intoxication, such as constricted or dilated pupils
  • Inspect your vehicle to see if there is any drug or drug paraphernalia present

Depending on the results of the initial investigation, the officer can decide to take further action or let you go. If you appear intoxicated, the officer may call a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to come and evaluate your further.

You might also be subjected to a mouth swab test to determine if you are operating your car under the influence of drugs in your system.

Q: Who is a drug recognition expert?

A DRE is law enforcement personnel with specialized knowledge and training that helps him or her to identify when a driver is operating a car under the influence of drugs. The drug recognition expert program originated from the Los Angeles Police Department and now has been adopted by most states in the USA.

In California, this program is managed by the California Highway Patrol, and all law enforcement agencies in the county use this program. Not all counties in California have the drug recognition expert program. So, you might not be subjected to a DRE evaluation even if you have been arrested in California.

Q: Where does a drug recognition expert evaluate the driver?

The evaluation usually takes place in a controlled and well-lit area, such as a police station. This comes in handy to facilitate a better assessment than the one conducted by a police officer by the roadside. 

The DRE then forms an opinion – whether you used drugs, whether they impaired your driving and the kind of drugs you used. 

Find an Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me

You should seek help from professional DUI attorneys if you get charged with Driving Under the Influence of drug offense in Orange County. We are here to help you during this testing moment and prevent the court from sending you to jail or penalizing you with fines.

It is never good to have a criminal record that always shows up when someone conducts a background check. It can hinder you from getting the job you want and disqualify you for other important privileges in life. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and discuss how we can help you with your DUID charge.

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