In Southern California and across the nation, virtually every driver is familiar with driving under the influence of alcohol. Since local, state, and nationwide campaigns inform the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, it’s safe to say that most, if not all drivers, are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.
While driving under the influence (DUI) certainly applies to alcohol, it is not limited to alcohol. In California, it’s against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and we’re not just talking about illegal street drugs, such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or LSD – under Vehicle Code 23152(f), “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”
Under VC 23152(f), an Orange County resident could technically be arrested and convicted of DUI if they are caught driving under the influence of a lawfully prescribed drug. In today’s heavily medicated society, this is a very real possibility for anyone who takes prescription medication on a regular basis.
Just a few medications that can affect driving ability:
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “prescription drugs are also commonly linked to drugged driving crashes. A 2010 nationwide study of deadly crashes found that about 47 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used a prescription drug.”
Facts about drugged driving from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- When prescription drugs are misused, it can make driving dangerous.
- In 2014, 10 million people ages 12 and older admitted to driving under the influence of illegal drugs in the previous year.
- Second to alcohol, marijuana is the most common drug linked to drugged driving.
- In 2010, over 25 percent of drugged drivers in fatal crashes were age 50 and older.
In California, the penalties for DUI are the same whether the conviction involves drugs or alcohol. For example, if someone is convicted of DUI of drugs after driving under the influence of Vicodin, they would face the same DUI penalties as if they were driving under the influence of alcohol. Typical penalties for a first DUI include fines, license suspension, DUI School, community service, probation, and possible jail time.