In California, a law enforcement officer can legally pull you over if they
suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol or
drugs, and the types of “drugs” may surprise you.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a common offense, but lately
law enforcement has been focusing on drugged driving. Drugged driving
is driving under the influence of any drug, prescription or narcotic.
Since such a large percentage of the U.S. population is on at least one
prescription medication, if not two or three at any given time, more
DUI arrests are being made for prescription drug DUI than ever before.
While a prescription drug may be legally prescribed, that does not mean
that it does not impair one’s ability to drive safely. Many prescription
drugs cause drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and even blurred vision
– and all of these side effects can lead to
Drugged Driving Under the California Vehicle Code
Under Section 23152(c) of the California Vehicle Code, it is unlawful for
a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. (e)
It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to
drive a vehicle. (f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined
influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
The major problem with this particular division of the driving under the
influence statute is that it does not specify A) what specific types of
drugs are illegal to drive under the influence of and B) how is "under
the influence" determined when it comes to drugs?
Contrary to alcohol, you cannot easily determine an individual's level
of intoxication when it comes to drugs in their system. The legal limit
for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent for most drivers,
but there is no such maximum threshold when it comes to drugged driving.
Section 23152(e) specifically states that it is unlawful for a person to
drive under the influence of "any" drug. This includes both
prescription and illegal narcotic drugs.
When we say "drugged driving," most people will probably think
of driving under the influence of cannabis/marijuana, cocaine, speed or
a related narcotic. Truthfully, law enforcement understands that even
prescription drugs used in proper doses can impair a person's faculties.
For this reason, law enforcement is allowed to charge a person with DUI
if prescription drugs were in his or her system. While it is also against
the law to drive with alcohol and narcotics in your system, an individual
only has to have a drug in their system to be arrested and charged with
DUI. No alcohol is necessary for a DUI charge.
Challenging the Prosecution’s Evidence
Some prescription drugs can remain in a person's bloodstream for a
week after use, making it difficult to determine whether a DUI charge
is warranted even after a blood test.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence for having a
common prescription drug in your system such as Adderall, Zoloft or any
type of SSRI, the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. can help.
Contact our Orange County DUI attorneys today to discuss options for your defense.