Under California Vehicle Code 23152(f), it’s a criminal offense to drive under the influence of drugs. The police will suspect you of driving under the influence if you drive recklessly. Your inability to drive like a sober person may be due to impairment caused by a drug. The drug may be legal or illegal or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
In California, the prosecution usually charges DUID as a misdemeanor. Penalties for a DUID crime include three-to-five-year probation, a fine of $1,800 if you’re a first-time offender, driver’s license suspension and possible jail time. If aggravating factors are present, the prosecution can charge the offense as a felony. In such a case, the penalties include a maximum of four years in jail if a person was seriously injured or a fine of $1,000 or more.
Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense in California, and therefore, you need to enlist the services of an attorney who’s well versed in California criminal law. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have a team of highly qualified attorneys, and we represent clients facing DUI offenses with zest. If you or your loved one is facing DUID charges, do not hesitate to contact us today.
What Driving Under The Influence Of A Drug is According to California Law
According to California law, it’s a crime to drive under the influence of drugs. According to Vehicle Code 23152(f), you aren’t allowed to drive under the influence of drugs. Under VC 23152(g), it’s against the law to drive under the combination of the influence of drugs and alcohol.
According to the law, a drug is any substance other than alcohol that alters your normal behavior. The substance affects your brain, nervous system, or muscles and impairs your judgment while driving. Drugs include marijuana, prescribed drugs or medication, and over-the-counter medications, all legal. They also include illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth.
In California, the court can charge you with DUI if you’re under the influence of marijuana, meth, Ambien. The court can also charge you if you are under the influence of prescription opiates like Oxycontin or Vicodin. The court can also find you liable for a DUI offense even if you use the drugs to treat or manage an ailment.
Determining the Legal Limit In California For Drugs And Driving
According to California law, the legal limit for alcohol consumption while driving is 0.08% BAC if you're over 21. However, the state doesn’t have a similar threshold for legal drug limits because it’s difficult to ascertain the drug concentration level. So, according to California law, it’s a criminal offense to drive while under the influence of drugs, under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, and while addicted to drugs.
How The DUID Arrest Process Takes Place In California
It’s normal for police officers to make random traffic stops. However, an officer may be inclined to stop you if they notice you driving erratically. Once they stop you, the officers will perform a DUI investigation to ascertain the matter. The investigation includes the officer asking if you drink or use drugs. They may also ask you to take a breath test to ascertain your Blood Alcohol Level. They may also ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests while looking for any physical manifestation of impairment. Some of the signs they might look for include dilated pupils. They may also check if the vehicle has any drugs or drug-related materials.
If your BAC level is below the legal limit, the police officer may suspect you of drug use if you exhibit any erratic behavior. The police officer may enlist the help of a drug recognition expert (DRE) who will ascertain if indeed you’ve used any drugs. The expert may request to perform a mouth swab test in their investigation.
Understanding Who Is A Drug Recognition Expert And The Job They Perform
A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is a law enforcement officer specializing in recognizing drug use telltale signs. The training helps the officer identify a person under the influence of drugs. The DRE program has its roots in the Los Angeles Police Department but is now under the control of the California Highway Patrol. All law enforcement agencies in the state use DREs. However, not all counties in the state have a drug recognition expert.
The Steps The Drug Recognition Officer Takes To Determine If You’re Under The Influence
Once the DRE expert arrives, they take charge of the DUI investigation. The expert conducts a twelve-step evaluation to ascertain if you’re under the influence of drugs. Below are some of the steps the DRE follows:
- Confirming your impairment isn’t a result of alcohol consumption.
- They interview the arresting officer to find out as much information as possible on your condition when the officer stopped you.
- They check your vitals, including the pulse rate, pupil size, any traces of drugs in your mouth or nose stills, possible injection sites, and check your muscle tone. Some drugs can cause your muscles to harden.
- Conduct an eye examination to check for involuntary jerking of the eyes, which may indicate drug use.
- Re-administer field sobriety test. These tests include the Romberg balance test, finger-to-nose test, the walk and run test and the one-leg stand test.
- Asking you about drug use while at the same time observing your behavior.
- They will ask you to submit a DUI urine or blood test.
Where Does The Drug Evaluation Process Take Place?
The evaluation should happen in a controlled and well-lit area in ideal cases. In most cases, such a place is the police station, and such a setting will produce much better results than those of a test taken on the roadside. After the evaluation, the DRE will determine if you’ve used any drugs and their types.
Do You Have Rights During The DRE Investigation?
According to the law, you have a right to refuse to take the field sobriety tests or answer the drug recognition expert’s questions. You can always exercise your Fifth Amendment Right, protecting yourself against self-incrimination. You can’t face any legal ramifications for refusing to take the chemical test unless the officer has placed you under arrest. However, you can face legal charges for refusing the chemical tests if you’re on DUI probation or you’re less than 21 years.
The Arrest Process In California For Suspicion Of Driving Under The Influence Of A Drug
If the officer believes they have probable cause for a DUI arrest, they’ll take you into custody. Remember, the law doesn’t require the officer to read you the Miranda rights immediately after the arrest. They are only required to do so before they start an interrogation and when they place you into custody. Some of the officers’ questions that can lead to self-incrimination include asking you the drugs you took before starting your drive, the quantity of the drugs you took, and whether you were stoned or high while in the car.
Remember, the police can ask you these incriminating questions before they have read the Miranda rights, provided they haven’t arrested you yet. Therefore, it’s critical to evoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent so that you don’t incriminate yourself. You should also contact your attorney immediately if a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, and your attorney will advise you on what to or not do.
Understanding The Process Of DUI Chemical Test
In California, when the officers arrest you for DUI, they give you a chance to choose between chemical and DUI breath tests. If the authorities have already arrested you, you can’t refuse to take the DUI chemical test. The chemical test involves the authorities testing your blood or urine. The state automatically revokes your driver’s license if you refuse to take the chemical test after you’ve been arrested for DUI.
When Does The Law Require You To Provide A Blood Sample For DUI Testing?
According to California law, the authorities may require you to take a blood test under certain factors even if you’ve taken a post-arrest drug test. The officer may require you to take the test if they suspect you were driving under the influence of drugs or the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. They may also require you to take the test if the officer believes doing so will prove you were driving under the influence of drugs.
Before the officer conducts a drug test, they will conduct a BAC test. If your BAC level is above the legal limit, the officer can charge you with various offenses. Some of these offenses include driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, driving a commercial vehicle with a .04% BAC level or higher. However, if your BAC is under the legal limit and you appear intoxicated, the officer will order a blood test. It’s against the law for the officers to take your blood by force unless they have a warrant.
Testing Your Blood To Prove The Use Of Drugs
After you’ve been arrested on DUID suspicion, the officers transfer your blood sample into a government lab. At the lab, the experts analyze it using a blood toxicology screen. The purpose of the screen is to identify the type of drugs present in your blood. However, the screen doesn’t indicate the drug’s concentration. Its main purpose is to indicate the presence or absence of drugs in your system. If your blood tests positive for one or multiple drugs, the lab goes ahead and conducts a quantitative analysis. The purpose of the analysis is to identify the quantity of the drug or multiple drugs in your system.
California law on driving under the influence of drugs doesn’t have a legal threshold. The law simply states it's illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or under the combination of the influence of drugs and alcohol or when you’re addicted to substance abuse unless you’re undergoing an approved program for the addiction.
How The Prosecution Can Prove The DUI Charges Using A Positive Blood Test
Although blood tests aren’t conclusive, the prosecutor can use the blood test to prove the DUI charge with the help of the DRE and an expert witness. The test results can indicate the presence of drugs in your body, the quantity of the drugs, and in some cases, your frequency of taking the drugs. However, the prosecutor will rely heavily on the arresting officer’s observation, the testimony of an expert witness, and the observation of the DRE if one is present.
What Happens During The Driving Under the Influence Of Drugs Trial In California?
If you’re arrested for driving under the influence of a drug, the arresting officer will escort you to the police station. You will then undergo trial for the crime. Various steps are involved during the trial process. The steps include:
Step 1. The Arresting Officer Gives Their Testimony
The trial starts with the arresting officer giving their testimony. They state why they perceived you to be impaired or why they suspected you were driving under the influence of a drug. The officer may state you were driving erratically, you physically exhibited symptoms of intoxication, and you performed poorly in the PAS breath test and field sobriety tests.
The arresting officer will highlight everything you did wrong after they stopped you on suspicion of DUID.
What The Arresting Officer’s Testimony Entails
In most cases, the arresting officer will state you didn’t drive with the caution expected of a sober driver. They will also testify you exhibited signs and symptoms of intoxication. These signs and symptoms include red and watery eyes, an unsteady gait, slurred speech and a flushed face. If you took the sobriety test, the officer would indicate you failed to follow the test’s instructions indicating your impairment.
Can The Authorities Use A Breath Test Against You In A DUID Case?
In California, failing a breath test for a DUID case doesn’t prove much, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol. The breathalyzer may have indicated little or no BAC in your system. Since you hadn’t consumed any alcohol, the officer will state that your careless driving behavior could only result from drug use. The prosecutor uses such evidence when you state the officer didn’t have probable cause while arresting you.
Step 2. The Drug Recognition Expert Gives Their Testimony
Under California VC 23152(f) and VC 23152(g), the DRE’s expert testimony is critical in a DUID case. The prosecutor primarily relies on the DREs testimony to convict you of the charges. DRE officers are also trained on how to testify in court. The prosecution works with these experts to ensure they present highly persuasive testimony. Due to their training and experience, the DREs are highly professional, and the jury is more likely to believe their testimony.
Usually, the first step when the DRE takes the stand is to indicate their training and qualification at length. They will also testify about their three primary responsibilities. These responsibilities include proving your impairment wasn’t a result of alcohol only and you were under the influence of drugs. You weren’t suffering from any medical condition and were under the influence of one or more drugs.
How Does The DRE Make Their Case For Your Impairment?
The DRE will indicate to the court how they followed the twelve-step evaluation process during the DUI investigation stage. The DRE will present evidence that indicates the category of drugs that the officer will state that Since you had used and state the drugs were responsible for the impairment. The DRE may conclusively state as a result of the tests they run. One or more categories of drugs impaired you. Some of these categories include marijuana. Or a depressant that affects the central nervous system, including soma or valium, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system, including cocaine, meth or amphetamines.
They may also indicate you had used a hallucinogen including LSD, magic mushrooms, ecstasy. They may also state you used a narcotic analgesic including heroin, Vicodin or codeine. They can also indicate you had used other categories of drugs, including PCP, GHB or any other impairment-causing drug.
What Happens If DRE Wasn’t Involved In Your Case?
If a DRE wasn’t involved in your case, proving the Driving Under the Influence of a Drug case becomes challenging. However, some officers have received drug recognition training, and the officer may present compelling evidence to the court in such a case.
If the arresting officer doesn’t have such training and no DRE is present, it might be difficult for the arresting officer to prove the case in court. If you’re under investigation for a DUID case, it’s critical to employ the services of an experienced attorney. The attorney will work hard to suppress the arresting officer’s testimony by presenting a motion to suppress the officer’s testimony.
Without the testimony, the prosecution will most likely reduce the charges to DUI, or the court may altogether dismiss the case.
Step 3. Presentation Of The Results By The Prosecution
Finally, the prosecution will present the blood test to prove you were driving under the influence of drugs. The prosecution usually presents the blood tests in two forms., the toxicology and qualitative results. The toxicology report shows the presence of the drugs, while the qualitative results show the quantity of the drugs in your system. An expert witness will then state the level of drugs in your blood was enough to cause impairment.
The Legal Defenses You Can Present Against DUID Charges
In California, you can present several defenses against driving under the influence of drugs. However, it’s critical to seek the services of an experienced California lawyer to help you fight these charges. Below are some of the defenses you can present:
a. Defenses You Can Present For General Driving Under The Influence Charges
You can state the officer didn’t have probable cause to stop your car or carry out the DUI investigation. You can also state that the officer didn’t read you the Miranda rights before the interrogation. You can state that the police didn’t properly collect, store and analyze your breath, urine, and blood samples according to the California Code of Regulations Title 17.
b. Defenses You Can Use Specifically For DUID Charges In California
1. The Drugs Didn’t Cause Any Impairment
You can use some defenses that are specific for DUID charges. One of the most powerful defenses is to state that having drugs in your system doesn’t mean you are under their influence. You can state the level of drugs in your system couldn’t have caused any impairment whatsoever.
The effect drugs have on people differs, and some develop a tolerance after using the drug over some time. Therefore, you can state that the drugs couldn’t have caused any impairment since your body is already used to the drugs, and you usually function even after using the drugs.
2. The Detection Window Is Longer Than The Effect Of The Drugs
A detention window is a period when the test can come back positive after you’ve used a drug. However, the detection window outlasts the “high” effect caused by the drug. The detection window can also be affected by several factors. These factors include your height, weight, tolerance level, history of drug use, metabolism, and method to ingest the drug. The above factors will determine when the drug will remain detectable in your system.
Therefore, you can state that although the tests indicated the presence of drugs, the drugs no longer had any effect.
3. You Can State Other Conditions Mimicked The Signs And Conditions Of Drug Impairment
Many physical and medical conditions can mimic the signs and symptoms of drug impairment. These conditions include fatigue, lack of sleep, injury, sickness, allergies, and anxiety.
Call A Riverside Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Facing drug-related crimes in California is a serious legal matter. If you or your loved one is facing Driving Under the Influence of a Drug crime, you should enlist the services of a highly experienced California lawyer. The attorney will present various defenses against the charges and have the court reduce the sentence or dismiss the case altogether. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we represented clients facing DUID charges for over thirty years. If you or your loved one needs representation, don’t hesitate to contact us at 951-946-6366 any time for a free consultation and legal advice.