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As drunk driving fatalities remain high, law enforcement agencies across the country continue to aggressively crack down on people driving under the influence. California is no different, with people being arrested and charged with DUI every day.
When most people hear about DUI charges, they normally think of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Many people, unfortunately, aren’t aware that you can also be charged with DUI while driving under the influence of drugs, and the charges are just as serious as those related to alcohol. With the changing legal status of marijuana, people forget that it’s against the law to drive while under the influence. In addition, people are wrongly charged with DUI when they shouldn’t be. Fortunately, the accused have rights, and the assistance of a California criminal defense lawyer can often result in a favorable resolution to a drugged driving case.
If you’ve been charged with driving while under the influence of drugs, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges, what your options are, and the best possible defenses. To schedule a free consultation about your drug-related DUI case, contact The Law Offices of David S. Chesley - you can call us at 800-755-5174 or send us an email via our online contact form.
California Drug-Related DUI Basics
Driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) is illegal pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23152(f). But what does this mean? For purposes of DUID charges, a drug is any substance other than alcohol that affects your brain, muscles, or central nervous system. Driving while under the influence of drugs means that you are impaired in such a way that you cannot drive as a sober person would.
It is very important to note that Vehicle Code 23152(f) does not apply only to illegal drugs - it applies to prescription drugs as well. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t drive a car if you take prescription medication, so long as you are not “impaired” when taking it. For example, your heart medication isn’t likely to cause you to be impaired, while Ambien may make it difficult to drive a car safely.
What the Prosecution Has to Prove
In order to be found guilty of DUID, the prosecution has to prove two things: (1) that you were operating a motor vehicle; and (2) that you were under the influence of drugs.
If the arresting officer observes you driving your car, then the first element of the charge is easily proven. In some cases, however, this element is more complicated than it seems. What if the car was parked and you were asleep? If the car never moved, can the prosecution prove that you were driving the car? The answers to these questions are complicated, but the point is that you should never assume the prosecution’s case is as easy as they want you to think that it is.
The second element is a little more difficult and is where most defendants either prevail or are convicted. In order to prove that you were under the influence of drugs, the prosecution will have to get the arresting officer to testify to what he observed that led to the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. The officer will likely testify to the following facts:
In addition to the officer’s testimony, a drug test is performed in almost every DUID case in order to determine what drugs are in your system at the time of your arrest. However, it’s important to note that there is no quantitative component such as blood alcohol content as in DUI cases involving alcohol. All the test needs to show was that there were, in fact, drugs in your system at the time of your arrest.
The Potential Penalties of DUID
The penalties of a DUID conviction are the same as those in a DUI alcohol case. The first offense will probably be charged as a misdemeanor, but the penalties will increase in severity for multiple convictions and according to whether or not you caused an accident resulting in injury. Here’s a summary of the potential penalties you may face if charged with DUID:
|1st offense - misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in county jail||Up to $1,000||Revoked for 6-10 months, but driver is eligible for a restricted license|
|2nd offense - misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in county jail||Up to $1,000||Revoked for two years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 12 months|
|3rd offense - misdemeanor||Minimum 120 days up to 1 year in county jail||Up to $1,000||Revoked for three years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 18 months|
|DUI with injury - misdemeanor||Minimum 5 days to 1 year in county jail||Up to $5,000 plus restitution to injured parties||1 to 3 years|
|DUI with injury - felony||16 months to 16 years in state prison||$1000-$5000, plus restitution to injured parties||Five years|
|Felony DUI (charged when you have 4 or more DUI convictions within a ten year period)||16 months, two years, or 3 years in state prison||Up to $1,000||Four years|
Note that in addition to jail time and fines, you will also lose your driver’s license. And although it is not listed in the chart above, you will also be ordered to go to DUI school, anywhere from 3 to 30 months.
As mentioned above, the prosecution wants you to believe that their case is airtight. This is often not the case, and an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to identify the weaknesses in the prosecution's case quickly. In addition to the potential weaknesses in their case, your attorney could argue the following defenses:
Your attorney can also challenge the validity of field sobriety tests, the blood test equipment, the testimony of the officer or the expert who testifies to the results of the blood test. In addition, your attorney may be able to argue that the case must be dismissed because your constitutional rights were violated - the arresting officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, failed to read you your Miranda rights, or subjected you to an illegal search.
Many DUID Cases Are Resolved through a Plea Bargain Agreement
If you are facing accusations of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important to understand that many DUI cases are resolved through a process known as plea-bargaining. A plea bargain involves agreeing to plead guilty in return for the prosecutor recommending the judge impose a reduced sentence or to a less serious offense. Importantly, negotiating a plea bargain is a complicated matter that requires significant legal experience, so it is highly advisable for anyone considering seeking one to retain qualified legal counsel immediately.
Contact a California DUID Defense Attorney Today
DUI charges are very serious with harsh penalties, and so you should take immediate action to protect your rights. A criminal defense attorney can help you get a fair result. The lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley have over 50 years of courtroom experience and give our clients aggressive, skilled criminal defense representation. Call us at 800-755-5174 or email us for a free consultation regarding your DUID charges.
According to VC 23152 (a), it is illegal for any person to drive under the influence of alcohol.
As experienced defense attorneys, we have various instances of the successful defense of DUI marijuana cases.
The drug can be any controlled, illegal or prescription substance that can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely.
A hit and run case is when the driver after hitting another car(s) or damaging the property did not stop and left the scene without notifying other drive or property owner and law enforcement.
You must consult an experienced defense lawyer for your legal representation in court to avoid conviction or to reduce charges to minimum.
Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!
Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!
Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!
Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!
Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.
Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!
Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!
Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!
Rodrigo L. San Fernando, CA (Sherman Oaks Yelp Review)
I am truly pleased with my experience with the Law Offices Of David S Chesley. They answered all my questions and provided me with great advice and legal services. My case resolved quickly. Thank you!
Ricardo Esteves Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Google Places Review)
I left court yesterday with my last case being wrapped up. Two court appearances and that's it. He represented me in a couple of different cases and was impressive to say the least. Always a phone call or text message away. Confident and aggressive when he needed to be. Calming and thorough when meeting with me. Attorney Chesley did exactly what he said he would and I got the results I needed. He seemed to know all the right people at the Temple Street courthouse. You can always get in contact with him quickly and he is a great lawyer. I highly recommend his legal services.
Erica Geller Ontario, CA (Ontario Facebook review)
My brother was given a very caring attorney that was assigned to his case and we had very helpful case managers throughout the process. I strongly recommend David Chesley to anyone who is in trouble. I called in to get help on my brothers case and right away I liked their service. My brothers charges were eventually dismissed after the attorney got him into a program, now he could go on without the trouble of having anything on his record
Elizabeth F. San Diego, CA (San Diego Google Places Review)
I retained Mr. Chesley and his firm and from the beginning they were extremely professional both in communicating the status of my case to me, explaining the situation as a whole, and just downright taking care of business. It was money well spent for a job well done. Thanks again to David and Melissa others that worked on my case. I recommend this firm to anyone in need of legal representation. Don’t just accept things the courts force on you, call this firm and protect yourself.
Leon Hanley Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Avvo review)
I contacted Mr. Chesley and his firm because some unfortunate events had left me in a jam. Detectives were demanding I testify or be prosecuted for a crime I didn’t commit. (I wasn’t involved or even at the scene of the alleged crime when it supposedly took place.) Mr. Chesley explained to me that he had been through similar situations with his clients before and understood exactly what was going on. His response to what took place was nothing short of amazing. No matter how small my concern, Mr. Chesley addressed it in a timely manner. He advocated for what is right and empathized with me in dealing with the Court system. After meeting with the supervising D.A. and providing alibi evidence he was able to get me out the situation. I’m very grateful to have found him.
Britanny Givens Newport Beach, CA (Newport Beach Google Places)
I hired David Chesley for my criminal defense in 2012. he was recommended to us for is success results and his low fees. David is very smart and his professional legal advice was honest & much appreciated during these stressful time. David's knowledge, advice, and communication about what we were to expect was reassuring and beneficial to me. He charged me a reasonable flat rate and didn't charge me any surprise fees. In my case David Chesley was able to negotiate with the prosecution attorney for the best result I could hope for. He had success at getting my criminal charges dismissed with the judges approval. You will not be disappointed if you hire The Law Offices of David S. Chesley.
Andrew A. North Hollywood, CA (Better Business Bureau review)
David is very professional, yet very casual. Although it is typically not easy to speak straight up with an attorney, he is very easy to talk to. He replied to my questions quickly and was available all hours. Not only did he get my case resolved with a dismissal, he went above and beyond and got me an expungement without me even requesting it. He never beats around the bush and tells you like it is. At the same time is willing to work overtime to get the results you request. I would use David's services again in the future.