Virtually every licensed California driver is aware that they can get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if they are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% in their system. However, many people do not realize that they can also be arrested for DUI if they were driving under the influence of an illicit drug such as cocaine, ecstasy, or LSD, or a lawfully prescribed medication.
Under California VC Section 23152(e), it is illegal for a person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any drug, and concurrently violate the law. Essentially, driving under the influence of any controlled substance, whether legal or not can subject you to prosecution.
If you are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), you face the same penalties that you would face if you were convicted of an alcohol-related DUI, including:
General penalties for a first DUI (alcohol or drugs) offense:
- DUI School
- DUI probation
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Driver’s license suspension
- Up to $1,500 in court-ordered fines
DUI of Drugs is a Widespread Problem
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 52 million people ages 12 and above have used prescription drugs for a non-medical purpose, 6.1 million of which have used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month alone. What’s more, while the United States makes up 5% of the world’s population, it consumes 75% of the prescription drugs.
The NIDA reports that prescription drugs are obtained from:
- 54.2% are free from a friend or a relative
- 18.1% are prescribed by one doctor
- 16.6% are purchased or taken from a friend or a relative
Many of the prescription drugs taken with and without a valid prescription are depressants, which reduce the functioning of the central nervous system, and therefore affect driving ability. Depressants include but are not limited to barbiturates; benzodiazepines; opioids; antihistamines; antipsychotics; sleeping pills such as Ambien and Lunesta, and even over-the-counter allergy medications.
Since many of these drugs slow brain function, and affect judgment, concentration, dizziness and fatigue, they can affect a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. So, you may want to think twice before taking a Vicodin and climbing behind the wheel shortly afterwards. In many cases, it can be difficult to prosecute a DUID case, and there are many legal defenses available.
If you were arrested while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, Orange County DUI Attorney Virginia L. Landry can help. Call now!