Under California Vehicle Code §23152(e), “it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” This law applies to both illicit and legal over the counter drugs. Unlike alcohol related DUI’s, a DUID does not have a per se law. This means that there is no specific numeric threshold to identify when someone is under the influence of a specific drug. Thus, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that as a result of consuming drugs, a person’s mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
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Since there is no specific threshold in drug DUI’s, prosecutors will look at what the drug was, the quantity of the drug in your system, the officer’s observation of driving, observations of physical symptoms of impairment, and observations of mental abilities to follow directions and perform tasks properly. A drug DUI investigation, is conducted very similarly to an alcohol DUI investigation, except an officer must be looking for specific cues that suggest drug impairment, not alcohol impairment. Usually an officer that is a drug recognition expert (DRE) will conduct the DUID investigation. They request the subject to complete standardized field sobriety tests, while looking for cues of impairment. Based on their analysis, they form an opinion and make a recommendation in their report to the prosecutor.
Under California Vehicle Code §23152(f), “it is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcohol beverage and drug to drive a vehicle”. When someone has both alcohol and drugs in their system, they can be charged with this offense. The guideline again is whether the combination of alcohol and drugs made the person so impaired they were no longer able to drive with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
The biggest problem with these specific laws on drug DUI’s, is that regardless of whether someone is simply operating a motor vehicle after consuming a prescribed drug, such as marijuana, hydrocodone (vicodin), or Benzodiazepine’s, they can be charged and potentially convicted of DUID. If an officer believes that based on their objective observations, someone is too impaired to drive, a zealous prosecutor may not even take the time to discuss it with a drug expert before filing charges for DUID.
It is important to get an attorney that is experienced in handling drug DUI’s because there are many ways to defend a DUID case. The Law Office of Ben Mironer investigates every DUID case thoroughly. We apply our legal expertise in the field of DUI to get our clients the best results possible in these kinds of cases. Often times, we are able to convince a prosecutor that there is insufficient evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. By doing so, we have been able to get charges reduced to non DUI related offenses or outright dismissals.