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Los Angeles Drug-Related DUI Defense Attorneys

We Represent the Rights of People Accused of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

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:

  • Erratic driving: you were weaving, ignoring traffic signs or signals, or breaking various traffic laws.
  • Your behavior during the stop was erratic or belligerent - you were incoherent, slurring your speech, unable to cooperate or follow directions.
  • You failed one or more field sobriety tests.

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:

OffenseJailFineDriver’s License
1st offense - misdemeanorUp to 6 months in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for 6-10 months, but driver is eligible for a restricted license
2nd offense - misdemeanorUp to 1 year in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for two years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 12 months
3rd offense - misdemeanorMinimum 120 days up to 1 year in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for three years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 18 months
DUI with injury - misdemeanorMinimum 5 days to 1 year in county jailUp to $5,000 plus restitution to injured parties1 to 3 years
DUI with injury - felony16 months to 16 years in state prison$1000-$5000, plus restitution to injured partiesFive 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 prisonUp to $1,000Four 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.

Defending Against DUID Charges

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:

  • Although you had drugs in your system, you were not impaired.
  • Your “impairment” may be caused by other factors, such as fatigue, illness, anxiety, or allergies.
  • The results of the blood test are inaccurate, was performed improperly, or the sample was improperly stored or handled.

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.

DUI Alcohol

DUI Alcohol

According to VC 23152 (a), it is illegal for any person to drive under the influence of alcohol.

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DUI Marijuana

DUI Marijuana

As experienced defense attorneys, we have various instances of the successful defense of DUI marijuana cases.

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DUI Drugs

DUI Drugs

The drug can be any controlled, illegal or prescription substance that can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely.

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Hit and Run

Hit & Run

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.

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Drunk in public

Drunk in Public

You must consult an experienced defense lawyer for your legal representation in court to avoid conviction or to reduce charges to minimum.

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Driving Without a License

The situation and circumstances of your charges play an important role in determining the conviction and penalty.

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Areas We Serve

Recent Results

  • 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!

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