The California Vehicle Code 23512(e) makes it illegal for someone to drive under the influence of drugs (DUID). The DUID law and its penalties are very similar to those of a regular DUI.

The State of California, considers any substance, other than alcohol, that impairs a person’s physical, or mental abilities, or nervous system, a “drug.” This definition of a drug includes illegal substances, such as cocaine, but most people do not know that this law applies to over the counter medicine, or prescription drugs. It does not matter if you have taken the drug lawfully, if the drug adversely affects your driving ability, then you are at risk of being arrested for DUID.

The penalties for a DUID are essentially the same as those for a regular DUI case. Most DUID charges are charged as misdemeanors. By being classified as misdemeanors, the penalties associated with a DUID can widely vary. If you are convicted of a DUID, the penalties you will face will most likely be monetary fines, license suspension, and/or successfully completing a mandatory substance abuse class. If you have a prior criminal record, a jail sentence may be imposed. Usually, people who have to serve jail time are those who have had 3 prior DUIs or have been convicted of a DUI within the past, and if a third party was injured during your DUID incident.

The DUID Investigation Process

Although DUIs and DUIDs are very comparable, the biggest difference can be seen throughout the investigation process. The initial traffic stop for a DUID is quite similar to that of a DUI. Unlike, a DUI, a person who may be intoxicated under a DUID will pass the breath test that is usually administered roadside by an officer. After this test, the officer may often call upon a drug recognition expert (DRE) to analyze the situation more thoroughly. When the DRE arrives, the DRE will most likely initiate a 12-part investigation in order to see if you are under the influence of drugs.

How can I be found guilty of DUID?

Pursuant to CVC 235152, it is illegal for someone to operate a vehicle under the influence of either alcohol or drugs in the state of California. The law considers a substance a “drug” if it is not alcohol, but nonetheless, impairs a person’s nervous or muscular system, or the individual’s brain function. An individual is considered to be “under the influence” if they cannot drive in a manner equivalent to how a reasonable person would in a similar situation.

A person can be charged with DUID if the individual was under the influence of any drug, including prescription drugs (Adderall), illicit drugs (marijuana, cocaine), or over the counter medications (sleeping pills).

The DUID law consists of three factors. A prosecutor must prove you exhibited the following:

  1. Drugs were present in your system;
  2. During the time you were operating a vehicle; and
  3. The drugs impaired your ability to drive to the extent that you were unable to drive in a manner equivalent to that of a reasonable person not under the influence of drugs.

As previously discussed, whether the drugs were legal or illegal does not matter, it only matters if the drugs impaired your driving ability. Usually, to determine what drugs were in your system, a blood test will be administered. The quantity of the drugs in your system is of no importance. Most people know that to be convicted of a DUI, one must have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher because a DUI is more prevalent than a DUID. In a DUID case, no such limit exists and a result of 0.01% presence of drugs in your blood is enough for a conviction. However, a person with that low percentage of drugs in his/ her system is less likely to be seen as impaired. To determine impairment, it will usually require witness testimony, whether it is that of a third party who was in the vehicle or the arresting officer’s testimony.

DUID – Legal Defenses

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm are capable to advocate numerous defenses to challenge your DUID charge. Some common defenses include:

  • You were not under the influence of any drug.
  • This may appear too simple of a defense. However, it can be a very successful one. Remember that, even if there were drugs present in your blood sample, it does not mean you were under its influence while operating the vehicle. This will be addressed more below.
  • The blood or urine sample was damaged.
  • Like in a DUI, the reliability of your blood or urine sample may be challenged in many ways. Our attorneys may argue that it was improperly collected, stored, or is just inaccurate.
  • There is another reason your driving was impaired.
  • Many factors may determine a person’s driving ability. Other reasons for impaired driving could be illness, anxiety, or lack of sleep. These may be reasons that can be mistaken as indications of drug use.

DUID – Punishments That Can Be Expected

Like DUI cases that involve alcohol, DUID cases that are a first, second, or third offices will likely be a misdemeanor. Without the absence of aggravating factors, the charge will most likely not require any jail time for a first offense. The common first offense of DUID will result in the suspension of your driver’s license of at least 6 months, $1,800 fine, and anywhere from 3-5 years of probation, and successful completion of a drug education program.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that DUID punishments can vary, depending on various factors that a court will consider at a sentencing hearing. The factors a court may consider in determining your penalties are any previous criminal history, and the specific circumstances involving your case. Additionally, like a regular DUI, refusing to submit to a post-arrest blood or urine test can result in you being charged with a “refusal.” If you are charged with a refusal, a 1-year license suspension, and a 48-hour jail sentence will be added to your punishment. The attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will dedicate themselves to build a strong defense and argue for the best possible outcome for you.

Our attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will aggressively fight your DUID charge

As previously stated, there are a few effective defenses that your attorney can use to challenge your DUID charge. During a Free consultation at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm, our attorneys will be able to explain and discuss other possible defenses that may be used to build the most beneficial strategic approach to your case.

Often, the most evidence against you will derive from the arresting officer’s testimony. Our attorneys are taught to find any discrepancies in the officer’s testimony, and attack its reliability. Usually, a DUID case is defended with the defenses that are available in a regular DUI case. Such as, if it is appropriate, our attorneys can challenge if the officers had probable cause to perform an initial traffic stop, or administer a DUI investigation. Then, the next thing we would look to do is see if your Miranda Rights were violated by not being read to you. Subsequently, we will then look to any breath and blood sample in order to determine if they were stored pursuant to California law.

Our team is also prepared to make defense argument specific to DUID cases, on top of the regular DUI defenses.

First, you must remember that, even if you had any amount of drugs in your system, it does not mean that your driving ability was impaired, or you were under the influence of that drug. One of the most effective defenses is the argument that you were not under the drug’s influence. Thus, do not think that because drugs were found in your system that it affected your ability to operate a vehicle. Usually, in a DUID test, the results do not show the amount of drugs in your system, it only shows that there was some amount in it. Drugs may affect people differently; as well as some individuals may have a higher tolerance than other individuals. Factors that can affect how a person reacts to a drug are the individual’s height, weight, and metabolism. Furthermore, certain drugs can remain in an individuals system and show up on a blood or urine test, after the individual has stopped feeling the drug’s effects. For example, think about marijuana, a drug that can stay in a person’s system for a long period of time, even after the drug’s effects have worn off. Our attorneys know how and why to look at the facts of a case in a certain way, a skill that enables them to build the strongest defense to show how the drug did not impair your ability to operate the motor vehicle.

As previously discussed, many other reasons exist that may lead an officer to mistakenly believe a person was under the influence of drugs. Our attorneys have the skills to know when to make the argument that you were not under the influence of a drug. They can build a defense showing that you were exhausted, or that your driving ability was affected by an illness or injury. A defense that may also be brought is that you were nervous because you had just been pulled over. Our attorneys have experience successfully arguing these defenses.

Finally, if applicable, a defense stating that the drug test was wrong could be brought. Incorrect results can happen as a result of various causes like: an improperly handled or stored sample, unreliable equipment, or a faulty blood drawing process. Whatever the cause may be, the lawyers at our firm have the skill and experience to know when and how to challenge test results, and will find any discrepancies.

Additional Drug Charges: Health and Safety Code 11550

The California Health and Safety Code (HS) 11550 controls the usage of controlled substances. Since it is closely related to DUIDs, a HS 11550 can be brought in addition to a DUID charge.

An individual may be convicted of a HS 11550 violation if the individual consciously consumed, or was under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotic drug. Thus, the two ways that an individual may violate this code is by either, using or being under the influence of a controlled substance.

In order to be guilty of using a substance, an individual must be caught in the act of using it. So, this kind of HS 11550 violation is not usually brought with a DUID charge. The HS 11550 that is more likely to be brought with a DUID charge is the charge that considers an individual being under the influence of a drug to be a violation of the code. As you may know from previously discussed material in this article, a DUID case requires a prosecutor to show that the driver being charged with DUID was under the influence of a controlled substance. This means that, in a DUID case, the prosecutor needs to show that the driving ability of the individual behind the wheel was impaired because of the drug. To be found guilty of a HS 11550 violation, the evidence needed is far less than the evidence needed to prove a DUID charge. The HS 11550 only requires that a showing of “under the influence” can be done in a particular demonstrable manner. Thus, if an individual is found guilty of DUID, more often than not you will be found to be under the influence for the purposes of a HS 11550 violation.

To be found guilty of violating HS 11550, a person must be under the influence of a drug that is enumerated as a “controlled substance” or a “narcotic drug” within the code. The code is very comprehensive, and includes almost all illegal drugs (marijuana is controlled by an alternate law.) Moreover, a person may be guilty of violating HS 11550 if the individual is under the influence of a prescription drug. In certain cases, a person who had taken more than the recommended dose, or did not follow the prescription instruction, whether lawfully prescribed or not, were found to have violated HS 11550.

A violation of HS 11550 is a misdemeanor but can carry various severe punishments such as: a jail sentence of up to 1 year, probationary period of 5 years, community service, and/ or successfully completing drug counseling.

The attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm have the experience to not only defend your DUID charge but also argue on your behalf against the HS 11550 charge. Similar to defending a DUID charge, an argument stating that you were not under the influence of drugs can be very successful. As previously stated, there are various innocent reasons that can explain why you appeared to be under the influence of drugs. You can have an effective defense, even if you were under the influence. You should not be found to have violated HS 11550 if you followed your prescription, and took the recommended dose.

We recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible if you have been arrested for DUID and/or HS 11550. The attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm have the skills and experience to provide you with the best chance to overcome your charges. Contact the Orange County DUI Law Firm today at 949-377-2280.