DUI Drugs: California Vehicle Code 23152(a)

The “drug” portion of a DUI drug charge or (DUID) can be any substance that can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe and cautious way. Here we are discussing illegal rather than prescription drugs, which can also lead to a DUI. We have defended clients accused of driver impairment involving a variety of illegal narcotics and controlled substances, including but not limited to:

  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine (meth)
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin
  • PCP

Under California law “drugs” are defined as substances that affect you brain or muscles. Driving under the influence of drugs is when your driving is impaired by a substance other than alcohol. Regardless of the type of drug, driving while impaired by any substance will subject you to prosecution.  Differences Between DUI Drugs and Alcohol DUI Although the two charges sound quite similar, there are several key differences between an alcohol DUI and a DUID. Consider these facts:

  • Unlike with an alcohol DUI, there is no blood alcohol content, or BAC, with which to gauge a driver’s level of intoxication.
  • When being investigated for a DUID, a driver is not given a breath test. Instead, s/he is typically given a blood test in the state of California. In rare cases, a urine test may be used instead.
  • An officer cannot rely on the same observations with a DUID charge as they can with an alcohol DUI charge. In California, a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, is often brought in to observe a suspect and later testifies in court.
  • The California DMV cannot suspend a suspect’s license for a DUID. The only exception to that rule is when a driver refuses to submit to chemical testing, or has a BAC of 0.8% in addition to being under the influence of a drug.

Similarities Between DUI Drugs and Alcohol DUI

  • As with an alcohol DUI, a DUI drugs is usually proved through circumstantial evidence. The officer’s observations of your driving patterns and your appearance, as well as your performance on any field sobriety tests and chemical tests can all come into play when prosecuting either charge.
  • With a DUID, no BAC comes into play; there is no concrete level at which a driver can officially be charged with a DUID.
  • Both charges are made under California Vehicle Code section 23152a, whose language includes the terms “drugs” and “alcohol.”

Typical Penalties and Fines for DUI Drugs The penalties that you may incur from being convicted of a DUID are dependent on many factors. Things like the specific circumstances of your case, whether or not you have any previous DUIs and your prior criminal history can all play a role in determining your ultimate penalties and fines. For first-time offenders, though, the state of California usually recommends the following guidelines when it comes to sentencing:

  • A minimum fine of $390 – with fines and fees, it will actually be closer to $1,000
  • Three to five years of informal probation
  • A driver’s license suspension of at least six months
  • A maximum of one year in county jail
  • At least three months’ worth of drug education classes

A DUI of drugs is a misdemeanor in the state of California, but there are aggravating factors that can will make the offense a felony, such as:

  • Fourth or subsequent DUI offense
  • Prior felony DUI conviction
  • You cause injury to a third person

Our DUI Drugs lawyers and DUI court Depending on the facts surrounding your arrest, there are a number of legal defense available to you. The experienced DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of David Chesley will assess your case and provide you with the best possible DUI defense.  Our DUI lawyers will investigate your arrest thoroughly in order to uncover any mistake that could have been made by the arresting officer. Often condition such as exhaustion or anxiety are mistake for dug symptoms and lead to false arrests.  If drugs come up in your blood or urine tests, it does not necessarily mean that you were under the influence while driving. Our attorneys will look at your case from every possible angle in order to negotiate the DUI charges down.

Contact Us A conviction for a DUI of drugs can impact both your personal and professional life greatly. Not only will a conviction be a mark on your criminal record, but a DUI conviction will also affect your driving record, which normally leads to higher insurance premiums. Our expert Southern California DUI lawyers will give you the legal representation you need to avoid the consequences of a conviction. The Law Offices of David Chesley invite you to contact us at any time to set up your free consultation. During this initial consultation we will review your case and explore the options available to you. To set up your free initial consultation or if you have any questions, please contact us through our website or give us a call today.

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