Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) in California is the same crime as Driving Under the Influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, many people only hear about drunk driving, they often do not thing that driving while high is as serious. If you have been accused of driving after taking drugs, you will need a DUI defense lawyer just like you would if you got charged with driving while drunk.
Myths About Driving While High
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the legality of drug use while driving. One of the most common is that because the breathalyzer cannot be used in these situations, the prosecution will have no evidence. This is not true. If you are accused of using drugs while driving, you are legally required to submit to a blood test. If you refuse to take this test, your refusal is considered evidence of your guilt. Refusing is also pointless because the police will just get a telephonic search warrant allowing them to seize your blood.
Another common myth is that the law only applies to illegal drugs. In actuality, if taking prescription drugs or cold medicine affects your driving, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) just as easily as someone who has taken methamphetamine or cocaine. Similarly, while marijuana may now be legal under state law, it is still illegal to drive after using it. Unfortunately, many people try to defend themselves by saying “It’s ok, I have a prescription,” and then this is used as proof of their guilt. This is one reason you should never give any information outside of that related to your identity if you have been pulled over by the police.
If you were under the influence of an illegal substance at the time, the DA will likely add a separate charge of H&S 11550, being under the influence of drugs. This is particularly problematic because you will face a minimum of 90 days in jail and because when the charge is combined with a DUI, you will not be eligible for a drug diversion program. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid jail with the negotiation of a plea bargain.
Additionally, even if you were not high when you got pulled over, you can still be charged with driving while addicted to drugs. This will open you up to the same penalties as any other DUI, including a license suspension. For this reason, you should always avoid telling the police that you have an opioid prescription because it can be used as proof that you are addicted to drugs.
Fighting Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Charges
There are a number of legal defenses your DUI attorney can use to help you fight these serious accusations. For example, there is no legal limit when it comes to drug use and driving. You can be charged if the officer believes you were impacted in any manner, but your lawyer may be able to show that you were no longer under the influence of the drug at the time you were driving or that a particular prescription you were taking has not been shown to impact driving in any manner.
In other cases, your attorney may argue that the only reason the officer accused you of DUID was because you first passed the breathalyzer, showing you were not drunk, like he originally suspected. Even if the police have some chemical test showing you smoked marijuana, this can be debated because these tests are not entirely reliable, but also there is no standard saying how much of the drug makes it unsafe for someone to drive.
Remember that anything you say to the police can be used against you, particularly in a driving under the influence of drugs case. If you have been accused of DUID, please call a skilled DUI lawyer like Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 as soon as possible.
Creative Commons Image by Steve Snodgrass