Orange County's DUI Queen
Our DUI Blog Stay Current With DUI Related News

Can I Get a DUI for Prescription Drugs?

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 DUI accidents!

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.