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Although drunk driving is more widely understood to be a serious criminal offense, driving under the influence of drugs is equally illegal and can also cost violators substantially in terms of fines and jail time. Hiring an attorney of DUI arrest for drugs can often, but not always, allow the defendant to avert jail time or heavy fines.
California’s criminal code specifically outlaws the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated via drugs. Whether the driver is suspected of using illicit “street” drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine or prescription drugs, even ones legally prescribed, is irrelevant. If impairment is suspected, it doesn’t matter where the drugs came from or how the driver got them.
Under California law, a “drug” for legal purposes refers to any substance that causes neurological impairment (poor muscle coordination, distorted vision, mental cloudiness, etc.).
DUI charges associated with drug use are often abbreviated as DUID’s in California. In cases where charges are brought against a driver, a car wreck defense attorney is necessary to advocate for the best legal outcome on behalf of the defendant.
Which Illegal “Street” Drugs Can Lead to DUID
Any narcotic that affects driving ability to lead to DUID. Common causes of drug DUID’s include:
Which Prescription Drugs Can Lead to DUID?
Many people may mistakenly assume that driving after taking medication prescribed by their doctor is okay. In fact, prescription drugs can cause significant neurological impairment that renders the user incapable of safely driving a vehicle.
Examples of pharmaceutical medications that cause impairment include:
- Oxycontin or oxycodone.
- Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and other benzodiazepines.
- Ambien (zolpidem)
- Sleeping pills
- Cold medicines
Any medication that makes you drowsy or significantly interacts with your nervous system has the potential to cause impairment. Exercise caution when using prescription drugs and driving to avoid serious legal entanglements if you are stopped.
How Do I Know if I Am Over the Legal Limit?
Unfortunately, the “safe” intoxication level with drugs is not as clear-cut as it is with alcohol. In California, the legal allowable blood alcohol content is 0.08%. Roadside testing is fast and largely reliable with the use of a breathalyzer.
The “science” of roadside drug testing by law enforcement is still in its infancy. The recent opening up of marijuana laws, for example, has caused intense debate among lawmakers regarding how to regulate driving under the influence of marijuana. With drugs, any suspected impairment, regardless of the level of intoxication, is grounds for arrest under California DUI ordinances.
Detecting impairment in a driver suspected of drug use, on the other hand, is more difficult. Officers must rely on telltale physical signs such as tremors, sweating, nervousness, red or puffy eyes, and others to make a judgment on sobriety.
This wide leniency granted to police officers, unfortunately, creates a situation ripe for abuse. The only legal standard that must be met to make an arrest is that the driver is “under the influence” of drugs, regardless of the outcome of any objective test.
That is why hiring an auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles is essential if you are involved in a motor vehicle incident. An experienced Los Angeles injury lawyer is trained to defend cases in which drivers are improperly cited for DUID.
The “Next-Day” Effect
Many drugs, both illegal and legal, can cause lingering effects that last into the following day and beyond. These “next-day” effects can render a driver legally incapacitated, making them vulnerable to DUID charges even if the drugs are not active in their system.
The only way to truly eliminate the risk of negative interactions with law enforcement and possible DUID citation is to never drive unless you feel 100% physically and cognitively sober and “with it.”
Drivers’ Rights During Stops
Drivers suspected of DUID have certain inalienable rights granted by the Constitution, including the protection against self-incrimination outlined in the 5th amendment of the Bill of Rights. That means that you do not have to answer any questions from police that might incriminate you.
If you have been arrested for DUID, immediately hire a reputable DUI lawyer prosecutors are less likely to win unfair cases when defendants enlist the help of a Los Angeles injury lawyer who will work on their behalf for justice.
How is Intoxication Determined
The process for detecting DUID is less straightforward than alcohol DUIS that generally rely on breathalyzer results to prove intoxication. Police departments across California have specially trained officers called drug recognition experts” who undergo hours of training to detect drug use in drivers and others that law enforcement encounters.
In court, a good lawyer can often raise significant doubts about the accuracy of an officer’s assessments.
The science behind drug recognition is shaky and often leaves large leeway for officers to interpret common signs of impairment as definitive examples of intoxication. For example, if a driver has red eyes, the police may attempt to use that as evidence of DUID – even when the redness was caused by something other than drugs.
This haziness in the law is a major reason why, if you’ve been arrested for DUID, you need to enlist the help of a lawyer in Los Angeles courts are packed with cases of DUID based on questionable legal evidence.
Drug Test Refusals
The fifth amendment extends protection against mandatory blood testing and field testing. You do not have to consent to undergo tests. However, there are potential legal consequences for refusing to cooperate. A skillful accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help navigate the legal consideration to arrive at the best outcome for you.
While it is your right to refuse to submit to a sobriety test before the arrest, California’s implied consent law makes submitting to testing required after an arrest has been made.
If you’ve been arrested for DUID, don’t face the criminal justice system on your own. Arm yourself with the services of a car wreck attorney who will work diligently on your behalf to get the best legal outcome possible. A good traffic accident lawyer could mean the difference between jail and freedom.