Legal Guide

Drug DUI in California: What is It and What Shall You Do

Today we would like to discuss an issue that we hope you would never face. It’s a drug DUI. Still, the information it contains may be valuable: we would speak on the topic in order to introduce it to you in general. That should prevent one from having unnecessary troubles. And if you have already gotten into trouble, this article will speak on lawyers’ issues too. Let’s move to the gist.

We should start from the question: what DUI actually means? In general, it means driving under the influence. As you may guess, it is a serious offense that can have far-reaching consequences for those convicted of it. In California, DUI law and consequences are particularly strict. The state has taken steps to reduce the number of incidents involving impaired drivers and has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to DUI charges. If you are being charged with a DUI, it is important that you seek legal guidance from experienced drug attorneys.

Indeed, it may result in severe consequences, including fines, license suspension, and even jail time. While most people associate DUI with alcohol, driving while under the influence of drugs is equally illegal and dangerous. In fact, drug DUI cases have been on the rise in recent years, prompting the constant need for specialized legal representation from some experienced DUI drugs attorney.

So, as we have said (but we want to make it crystal clear), drug DUI occurs when a driver operates a vehicle while impaired by any controlled substance, including prescription medications, illicit drugs, and even over-the-counter drugs. We will stop on the issue of different types later. Unlike alcohol DUI, which has a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), there is no clear-cut standard for drug DUI. Instead, officers rely on subjective evaluations such as impaired driving behavior, physical appearance, and drug recognition evaluations (DRE) to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs.

In fact, in California, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any drug, including both prescription and illicit drugs. We have mentioned a special law. This "drug DUI" law is designed to protect the public by ensuring drivers remain sober and alert behind the wheel. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, drunk driving has claimed thousends of lives over the past five years. This is an alarming statistic. However, the reality is that more and more people are driving while under the influence of drugs.

Any drug that impairs a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle can lead to a Drug DUI charge. But let’s observe some common drugs that can cause impairment and result in a Drug DUI charge in California in more detail.

Firstly, it’s Marijuana. Cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational use in California, but driving under the influence of marijuana can result in a DUI charge. In fact, Marijuana is one of the most common drugs involved in DUI cases in California. THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, can impair coordination, reaction time, and judgment. In California, the legal limit for marijuana impairment is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, unlike alcohol, there is no reliable way to measure marijuana impairment through a breathalyzer test. Instead, law enforcement officers rely on field sobriety tests and drug recognition evaluations to determine impairment.

We have already mentioned Prescription drugs. We want to stress this point, that they are included in the list. Many prescription drugs, including painkillers, sedatives, and antidepressants, can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and other side effects that can impair driving. Therefore, there are consequences.  It is important to follow your doctor's instructions and avoid driving if you feel impaired.

There is one more thing we constantly hear about – cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, and impaired judgment. It can also cause hallucinations and other dangerous side effects that can impair driving.

We should also mention Methamphetamine. It is a powerful stimulant that can cause euphoria, agitation, and aggression. It can also cause hallucinations and impair judgment, making it dangerous to drive while under the influence.

And finally – hallucinogens. Drugs like LSD, psilocybin, and PCP can cause hallucinations, confusion, and impaired judgment. These effects can make it extremely dangerous to operate a vehicle while under the influence of these drugs too, as it may come as obvious now.

In California, controlled substances are classified into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and whether they have any accepted medical use. The schedules are designed to regulate the possession, use, and distribution of these substances.

Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but also have accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, and have accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule III drugs include codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse compared to Schedule III drugs, and have accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.

Finally, schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse among controlled substances, and also have accepted medical uses. Examples of such drugs include cough suppressants with codeine and certain anticonvulsants.

Given the complexities of drug DUI cases, it is crucial to seek legal counsel from a DUI drug attorney, as we have already stressed several times before. These attorneys specialize in defending clients who are facing drug DUI charges and have a deep understanding of the legal and scientific issues involved in these cases. They can challenge the prosecution's evidence, argue for reduced charges or penalties, and work to get the charges dismissed altogether.

If you are facing a Drug DUI charge in California, it is important to seek legal representation from a drug attorney who understands the complexities of these cases. Drug DUI cases can be challenging to defend due to the subjective nature of drug impairment and the lack of clear-cut standards like those for alcohol DUI, which can be measured with a breathalyzer test. Drug impairment is different. It can be determined through a subjective evaluation of the driver's behavior and appearance – the issue we’ve touched upon above.

A drug DUI lawyer can work to protect your rights, evaluate the evidence against you, and determine the best strategy for your defense. They can help you understand the legal process, advise you on your options, and represent you in court. They can also negotiate with the prosecution to seek a plea bargain or reduced charges and work to minimize the consequences of a conviction.

Mentioning the most common cases with marijuana involved, one defense strategy is to argue that the driver's use of marijuana was for medicinal purposes and that the level of THC in their system did not impair their ability to drive safely. Additionally, the attorney may be able to argue that the officer lacked probable cause to stop the driver in the first place, which can result in the suppression of any evidence gathered after the stop.

So, if you are facing drug DUI charges, it is important to act quickly and seek legal representation as soon as possible. A skilled DUI drugs attorney can help protect your rights, navigate the legal system, and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Don't leave your future to chance - contact a drug attorney today to get the help you need.

In hopes that we have brightened some crucial aspects, we wish you to stay safe, attentive and confident. In the meantime, all the best!

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