Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23152(e), it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs (DUID).  The law and the associated penalties are extremely similar to the more common crime of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

In California, a “drug” includes any substance other than alcohol that impairs your physical abilities, mental abilities, or nervous system.  While this definition of course includes illegal drugs such as cocaine, it might come as a surprise that it also includes lawfully prescribed drugs and even over the counter medications.  Even though you may have lawfully taken medication, if it impairs your driving, you could be arrested for DUID.

DUID cases involve essentially the same penalties as those associate with typical DUI cases.  The vast majority of California DUID cases are filed as misdemeanors.  As such, they include a wide range of consequences.  If guilty of of misdemeanor DUID, you will likely face probation, fines, a suspended license, and/or required completion of substance abuse programs.  Depending on your prior record, you could face a jail sentence.  If special circumstances exist, your DUID can be filed as a felony.  Typically, this will only be the case it is your fourth total DUI offense, you have DUI convictions within the last year, or your incident involved injury to a third party.       

The Duid Investigation

While DUIDs and DUIs are generally pretty similar, one of the main distinctions is seen during the investigation phase.  The initial traffic stop usually begins similar to a typical DUI.  However, even though the driver may seem intoxicated, in a DUID case, the driver will likely pass the Breathalyzer test.  At this point, a drug recognition expert (DRE) is often called to the scene to further assess the situation.  At the scene, the DRE will conduct an extensive 12-part investigation to determine if you are under the influence of drugs.

What Is Required To Prove That I Am Guilty Of Duid?

In California, it is a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs (CVC 23152). California law defines “drug” as any substance other than alcohol, which can impair an individual’s nervous system, muscular system, or brain function. A person is considered “under the influence” when they are unable to drive in the way a reasonable person with full possession of his or her faculties would drive in a similar situation.

You may be charged with Driving Under the Influence of a Drug (DUID) if you were under the influence of any type of drug. This includes prescription drugs (Vicodin), illicit drugs (cocaine, marijuana), or over the counter drugs (sleep aid).

This law really boils down to three factors.  The prosecutor must prove that you:

  1. Had drugs in your system;
  2. You were driving a car; and
  3. The drugs impaired your ability to drive as well as a reasonable person not under the influence of drugs.

As noted above, it does not matter whether the drugs were legal or illegal; only that they impaired your driving.  Typically, a blood test will be administered to determine what drugs are in your system.  Keep in mind that they quantity of the drug is not relevant.  Because driving under the influence of alcohol is a much more common and publicized offense that DUID, most people are aware that the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08%.  There is no such legal limit for a DUID offense.  Any amount, even 0.01%, is sufficient to lead to a conviction.  With that being said, generally, it’s less likely that you’re would actually be impaired by a drug if an extremely small amount is found.  Whether or not you were actually impaired typically requires witness testimony; including the testimony of the arresting officer.       

Legal Defenses

Depending on the specifics of your case, the lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney are equipped to argue several defenses to fight your DUID charge.  Common Defense include the following:

  • You were not under the influence of any drug.
    • It may seem like an obvious defense, but it can be extremely effective. Keep in mind that the presence of a drug in your system does not necessarily mean that you were under its influence while driving.  This is discussed further below.
  • There was some issue with your blood or urine sample.
    • Just as in a typical DUI, there are a number of ways to attack the credibility of a blood or urine sample. It may have been collected improperly, stored improperly, or be actually be inaccurate.
  • Some other explanation exists for why your driving was impaired.
    • There are a number of factors that go into driving ability. Sleep deprivation, illness, or anxiety can easily be mistaken for symptoms of drug use. 

Duid Penalties: What You Can Expect

Similar to DUI cases involving alcohol, a DUID case that is your first, second, or third incident will likely result in a misdemeanor.  Unless any aggravating factors are present, it is unlikely that you will receive jail time for a first offense.  A typical first offense will result in a driver’s license suspension of at least 6 months, a fine of around $1800, about 3-5 years of probation, and completion of a drug education class.

However, keep in mind that penalties for DUID cases will vary, and a number of factors will be considered at sentencing.  Your criminal history, and the specific facts of your case will play a role in determining your penalty.  Also, as in a DUI case, if you refused to submit to your post-arrest blood or urine test, you will be charged with a “refusal”.  A refusal will add at a 1-year license suspension and a 48-hour jail sentence.  Nevertheless, the lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney will fight to make sure you receive the best possible results.         

At The San Diego Dui Attorney We Will Fight To Defend Your Duid

As mentioned, there are a number of effective defense strategies your attorney can utilize to fight your DUID charge. During your FREE consultation at San Diego DUI Attorney, you will be able to explore many possible defenses and determine the specific strategy that will be most beneficial in your situation.

Usually, the bulk of the evidence against you will come from the testimony of the arresting officer.  Our attorneys are trained to find inconsistencies within the testimony and attack its credibility.  Often times, a DUID case will be defended with many of the same arguments used in typical DUI alcohol cases.  Like in an alcohol case, when appropriate, our attorneys will challenge the probable cause for the initial traffic stop and/or the administration of the DUI investigation.  Next, we will look to see of any of your Miranda Rights were not read or were otherwise violated.  After that, we will make sure that any breath or blood samples were stored and analyzed in compliance with California law.

In addition to the common DUI defenses, our team is also prepared to make a number of arguments that are more specific to DUID cases: 

First, it’s important to remember that having any amount of a drug in your system, does not necessarily prove that it affected your driving or that you were under its influence.  Arguing that you were not under the influence of the drug can be extremely effective.  Therefore, you should never assume that just because a drug was found in your system, it affected your driving.  This is because in most cases, the DUID tests will not actually show how much of the drug was in your system; only that some amount was present.  People react to drugs differently and some have higher tolerances than others.  A person’s metabolism, height, and weight all play a role in how a given drug will affect them.  Moreover, some drugs remain in people’s systems and can show up on toxicology reports long after their effects have worn off.  Consider marijuana, which can remain in the blood system for months.  Our attorneys know how to examine the facts, and when appropriate, are prepared to argue your driving was not affected by the drug.  

As discussed above, there are a number of innocent reasons a person may have appeared to be under the influence of a drug.  Our attorneys are prepared to argue that you did not exhibit signs of intoxication.  Perhaps you simply were tired, or had some type of illness or injury.  Alternatively, you may just have been nervous as a result of being pulled over.  Our attorneys have experience and success arguing these alternative explanations.  

Finally, in some cases, the drug test results are just wrong.  Inaccurate results can occur for a number of reasons such as: the way the sample was handled or stored, faulty equipment, or the way the blood was drawn.  Whatever the reason might be, our lawyers know how to challenge the test results and will find any inconsistencies. 

Additional Drug Charges: Health & Safety Code 11550

California Health & Safety Code (HS) 11550, regulates the use of controlled substances.  Because of its close relation to DUIDs, a charge for violating HS 11550 can sometime be brought along with a DUID charge. 

You can be convicted of HS 11550 if you willfully “used” or were “under the influence” of a controlled substance or narcotic drug.  As such, there are two ways to violate this code section: By using a controlled substance or by beingunder the influence of a controlled substance.   

To be found guilty of using a substance, you basically have to be caught in the act.  As such, violating the HS 11550 in this manner is not commonly associated with a DUID charge.  It is far more likely that an under the influence violation would be brought with a DUID.  You may recall in a DUID case, the prosecutor is already required to show that the driver was under the influence of a controlled substance.  For a DUID case, this means there was some display that the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle was impaired.  For a HS 11550 charge, the standard is much lower.  HS 11550 only requires that you are under the influence “in some detectable manner”.  Therefore, if you are found guilty of a DUID, it is likely you will also be considered under the influence with respect to HS 11550.

In addition to being under the influence, to be guilty of HS 11550, the drug in question must be a “controlled substance” or “narcotic drug” as specified in the code.  The code is quite inclusive, and encompasses most, if not all illicit drugs (marijuana is regulated under a different law).  Additionally, you can be found guilty of HS 11550 if you are under the influence of prescription medication.  In some cases, even if it has been lawfully prescribed; if you have taken more than the prescribed dose or did not otherwise take it in accordance with the prescription, you can be found in violation.  HS 11550 is a misdemeanor and like DUID, carries a range of stern penalties including: up to 1 year in jail, five years of probation, community service, and/or completion of drug counseling.      

In addition to defending your DUID, the lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney are also prepared to defend your HS 11550 charge.  Like defending against DUID, arguing that you were not under the influence can often be effective.  As discussed above, there are a number of legitimate reasons someone may appear to be under the influence of drugs.  Even if you were under the influence, you still may have a valid defense.  If you consumed the recommended dose, and otherwise adhered to your prescription, you should not be subject to HS 11550.

If You Were Arrested For Duid And/Or Hs 11550 The Clock Is Already Ticking.  Hiring An Attorney As Soon As Possible Will Give You The Best Chance To Beat Your Case.  Contact The San Diego Dui Attorney Today At 619-535-7150 For Your Free Consultation.