In California, personal possession of drugs is a minor violation. However, if you are pulled over by a law enforcement official who suspects you may have been driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), you may face criminal charges. Many drivers are surprised to learn how broad a DUID charge can be. For example, you may face DUID charges if you are pulled over and have marijuana, prescription drugs, and some over the counter medicines in your system. In most cases, DUID charges are similar to DUIs, but there are some key differences.
Under California Vehicle Code 23152, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Unlike DUI charges involving alcohol, there is no legal limit for the amount of drugs that can be in your system while driving. This means that if you are pulled over with any amount of drugs in your system, you may face a DUID charge. You may also face a marijuana DUID charge despite California's legalization. Any drug that impairs your ability to drive can subject you to a DUID charge, including street drugs like heroin and cocaine along with prescription drugs such as Valium or Vicodin for pain management.
If you are charged with a DUID and convicted, you may face potential jail time, a permanent criminal record, and expensive fines. Additionally, there can be further long-term consequences that result from a criminal record, such as struggling to find employment or housing. If you are facing DUI of Drugs charges in Santa Barbara, it is best to consult a skilled DUID lawyer.
When you get a California driver's license, you legally agree to submit to any blood or breath testing in the case that you are pulled over for a suspected DUID. This doctrine, referred to as implied consent, requires you to comply with a law enforcement's request for a chemical test. While you may refuse to give a sample, this may result in penalties including suspension of your driver's license or an enhanced penalty if you are convicted of a DUID charge.
In cases where driving under the influence of drugs was the suspected cause of a car accident, a law enforcement official may obtain a warrant for a forced blood test. If this is the case, you may be taken to a hospital or medical facility—against your will—for a blood test.
Due to the range of drugs that may cause a DUID charge, penalties for a DUID vary depending on the specific circumstances of the situation. In most cases, a DUID is charged as a misdemeanor for first, second, and third convictions. Most of the time, a fourth DUI or DUID is subject to felony charges. Some of the common penalties of DUID convictions in Santa Barbara may include:
For your first offense, you may face up to six months in jail, a fine of $1000, and a six-month driver's license suspension. First offenders may be eligible to receive probation instead of jail time, depending upon the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI of Drugs arrest. If you are sentenced to probation, you may be required to complete a DUI program.
For a second offense that occurs within 10 years of your first offense, you may face up to one year in jail, a fine of $1000, and a two-year license suspension. Additionally, you may be required to complete addiction counseling or a DUI course. Although second offenses are usually eligible for probation, under California Vehicle Code 23542, you may have to serve some jail time.
For a third offense that occurs within 10 years of your first offense, you may face up to one year in jail, a $1000 fine, and a three-year driver's license suspension. Additionally, you may be required to complete a substance abuse course or counseling. Depending on the situation, third time offenders may be eligible for probation.
For a fourth offense, you may face felony charges. If convicted of a felony, you may face up to three years in the California State Prison and a four-year driver's license suspension.
Since driving under the influence of drugs is a criminal offense, if you are convicted, it will show up on background checks for employment or housing. This could make it challenging to find a job or good housing options. Ultimately, DUI of Drugs convictions may make it hard to earn a livable wage. In addition to these challenges, you may have to pay a higher car insurance premium. The best way to combat the penalties of DUID convictions is to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney.
A skilled DUID attorney will develop a strong defense for your case. In order to be convicted of a DUID charge in Santa Barbara, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug and that the consumption of that drug impaired your driving. While this may seem straightforward, DUID charges are often slightly more subjective than DUI charges involving alcohol. Most DUID cases hinge on the arresting officer's observations of the defendant's driving. Since many drug-related driving symptoms can be caused from a variety of other factors, such as being tired, there may be ample opportunity to develop a strong defense.
Blood tests are another important piece of evidence the prosecution will use. However, even if your blood test results came back positive for an intoxicating substance, it doesn't prove that you were impaired while driving. Everyone metabolizes drugs at a different rate, which can pose a challenge for the prosecution—your blood test alone doesn't necessarily prove that the identified drug influenced your driving.
There are several different routes a DUI of Drugs attorney may take to defend your case. Some of the most common defense strategies in DUID cases may include:
Your fifth amendment rights were violated during the arrest
The officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to pull you over
There were errors in the blood test procedures under Title 17 or otherwise
The officer did not have a warrant for your blood test
These are just a few of the many defenses a DUID lawyer may use in court. When you consult with a criminal defense attorney, they will look at all the factors surrounding your case and develop the best defense strategy specific to your situation.
While DUIDs might seem straightforward in nature, there is a lot of room for error that an attorney can use to build a strong defense. For example, police officer bias or a lack of reasonable suspicion could have been present in your arrest.
At the Aron Law Firm, we provide clients facing DUID charges with a comprehensive analysis of their case. Our team works tirelessly to get the best outcomes for our clients. By limiting our client roster and the associated caseload, we are able to give more time and attention to each and every one of our cases. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced DUI defense lawyers, call today at (805) 618-1768 or fill out our online contact form.