Most people associate driving under the influence (DUI) charges with alcohol,
but in recent years we have seen a steady increase in arrests for
DUI involving drugs – specifically
In California, it’s unlawful for a driver to operate a vehicle with
any amount of drugs (legal or illegal) in their system, or while their
driving abilities are impaired by drugs. This offense is outlined in California
Under this section, a driver may face DUI charges involving any type of
drug – including illegal narcotics like heroin or cocaine, prescription
drugs like oxycodone or codeine, and even over-the-counter medications
that impair driving abilities.
A driver may face DUI of drug charges in Orange County if he or she is
suspected of having any amount of a drug in his or her system, or is accused
of having impaired abilities to the extent that he or she cannot safely
operate a motor vehicle as a sober driver would in similar circumstances.
Why Prescription Drug Charges are Harder to Prove
Why are prescription drug DUI charges more difficult to prove than standard
alcohol-related DUI charges? There are a few issues that can affect the
strength of the prosecution's case in these matters. The first issue
involves testing for the drug in the driver's system.
There is a standard testing system in place to measure the level of alcohol
in a driver's system based on a
blood test or a breath test. Though many arguments have risen regarding the validity of these tests,
there are regulations regarding the administration of these tests, the
handling of test samples and the maintenance of testing devices.
A blood test can reveal the presence of a drug in a driver's system,
but it cannot necessarily show what level or amount of drug has been introduced.
This can lead to questions regarding whether enough of a drug was in a
driver's system to impair his or her abilities.
In the absence of a standardized test to measure the level of a drug in
a driver's system, an officer's observations and specialized
field sobriety tests must be relied upon to determine whether the driver's abilities are
impaired by drugs.
This may include testimony from the arresting officer regarding a driver's
behavior, appearance and statements when he or she was pulled over for
suspected DUI. An officer may note that a driver had bloodshot eyes, slurred
speech, dilated pupils or an unsteady gait as indicators that the driver
was under the influence of a drug.
If drug-related field sobriety tests are administered, the arresting officer
may testify regarding the driver's performance on the tests. Even
standardized field sobriety tests, which are administered for DUI of alcohol
cases, are not accurate 100% of the time and can be flawed by an officer's
error in administering the test.
Challenging DUI of Drug Charges
Remember, all is not lost if the arresting officer said you were driving
recklessly, failed field sobriety tests or had drugs in your system as
the result of a blood test. There are many different ways drug-related
DUI charges can be challenged; it is up to your attorney to determine
the best approach.
Legal and illegal prescription drug use in the United States has continually
risen through the past decades, and with this increase we have seen changes
in legislation applying to general drug charges as well as related issues,
such as driving under the influence.
At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., we take pride in keeping
up to date with all DUI legislation and case law in California. We provide
experienced and aggressive defense counsel to help our clients avoid license
suspension, jail time, fines and other serious penalties.
Contact our firm today to talk about your case and how we can help you.