In California, drugs are any substances apart from alcohol that can affect your muscles, nervous system or brain. This may comprise illicit drugs like cocaine, prescription drugs that could contain nitrous oxide or even drugs that you can purchase over the counter. You are considered to have driven under the influence of drugs if those drugs affect you to the extent that you might no longer drive like a reasonable individual would under the same conditions.
If you’ve been apprehended and charged with Driving under the Influence of Drugs in California, it is imperative for you to put efforts to learn what to anticipate and how to put up a defense against the charges. Enlightening yourself about the procedures used in the prosecution of DUI drug case in California might assist you to deal with the situation proactively. Retaining a knowledgeable and skilled DUID lawyer might aid in mitigating the probable penalties and assist you in avoiding the severe fines and penalties. If you or someone you know and love is arrested on DUID charges, treat that as an immediate emergency and contact Pasadena Criminal Attorney at 626-689-2277.
What Constitutes DUID in California?
California Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC makes driving under the influence of drugs a crime. It states that “it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” Additionally, Vehicle Code 23152(f) states that it is illegal for an individual to drive a vehicle when they are under the collective influence of any drug and alcoholic beverage. Driving under the influence of drugs in California is related closely to the law that warns against driving under the influence of alcohol. However, prosecuting and defending of charges of driving under the influence of drugs under VC 23152 (f) or VC 23152(e) is done differently from driving under the influence of alcohol. DUI with drugs investigation in California characteristically starts when the officer on patrol notices that you seem to be high, but there is slight or no evidence that you consumed alcohol. The most likely deduction that the officer can arrive at is that you are high on drugs. In such a case, the police normally bring in a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to come and examine you at the scene.
Who is a Drug Recognition Expert?
A drug recognition expert (DRE) is an officer of the law with exceptional training that assists them to recognize if a DUI drugs suspect is under the influence of narcotics. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was the pioneer of the DRE program, but it is today run by the California Highway Patrol. The DRE in California takes over the investigation for Vehicle Code 23152(e) on arrival. The drug recognition expert carries out a twelve step examination that comprises:
- First, the DRE confirms that your blood alcohol concentration does not show that you are under the influence of alcohol,
- Cross-examining the arresting officer,
- Carrying out an introductory analysis that comprises inspection of your pulse rate,
- Conducting a tracking exam or eye exam to establish whether you’ve horizontal gaze nystagmus which consists of an involuntary eye twitching that can signify drug and/or alcohol consumption if present at a particular level.
- Carrying out field sobriety tests (FSTs), comprising the walk and turn, Romberg balance, finger to nose and one leg stand test.
- Re-checking your pulse rate and taking your vital indicators
- Performing a dark room evaluation of the size of your pupil and checking your mouth and nose for hints of drug consumption,
- Examining your muscle tone, since certain drugs may make your muscles to become flaccid or rigid,
- Looking for sites that can signify injecting and taking your pulse rate for the third time,
- Asking you about your purported drug use and generally noting your manners,
- Coming up with an opinion as to what kind of drug(s) is/are triggering your deficiency and
- Requesting you to defer to a chemical DUI blood and/or urine test
The DRE's assessment preferably takes place in a well-lit, controlled area like the police station instead of the roadside where a DUI investigation typically takes place.
A DUI Drugs Trial in California
A Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC trial, just like the alcohol-related DUI trial starts with the arresting cop attesting about the reasons they thought you to be impaired. Such factors may comprise:
- Your physical looks,
- The dangerous way that you drove and
- Your field sobriety tests performance
It is wise to expect that anything that you did wrong will be emphasized for the jury and judge in your trial for driving under the influence of drugs.
The Arresting Officer's Testimony
California driving under the influence of drugs inquiries frequently starts when a motorist seems to be under the influence of drugs. The arresting officer can testify that you were not driving with the typical caution associated with a sober driver. The law enforcer will without a doubt attest that you demonstrated the key symptoms and signs of intoxication.
If the officer performed a breathalyzer at the roadside, he perhaps found little or no blood alcohol level. The officer will then testify that the impairments that you exhibited must have been caused by drugs, giving him/her a reason to invite the DRE. In the absence of a DRE in your team, proving a DUID under Vehicle Code 23152(e) becomes harder to prove. If the arresting officer has no teaching on drug recognition, a California defense lawyer who concentrates in driving under the influence of drugs cases can be able to persuade the judge to discount the testament about your purported drugged impairment, a testimony without which, your charges would probably be reduced or dismissed entirely.
The Drug Recognition Expert testimony
The bulk of the prosecution case in a Vehicle Code 23152(e) or (f) depends on the DRE’s testimony. After testifying about their extensive qualification and training, the DRE testifies on their three key responsibilities:
- Ratifying that your impairment level could not be backed up by your blood alcohol concentration,
- Confirming that you were under the influence of drugs as opposed to suffering from a health condition, and
- Deducing that you were under the influence of a single or several drug categories
The DRE will give a detailed testimony on the results of their 12-step process during their investigations, which will ultimately show the type of drugs that you had used based on the urine and blood tests.
Fighting DUI Drugs Charges
Questioning the arresting officer testimony is a strong way to challenge DUID charges. There are numerous California DUI defenses that can fit any DUI, as well as California driving under the influence of drugs, Vehicle Code 23152(e). These kinds of defenses ought to be considered by a California DUID defense lawyer in their endeavor to beat your DUI drugs charges. They include:
- Questioning the apparent cause that was employed to inform your DUID stop,
- Establishing whether your rights were properly read to you such as the right to remain silent and various Miranda rights prior to interrogation and
- Challenging the police on account of whether they used the right Title 17 procedures that control the gathering, analysis, and storage of urine, breath and/or blood samples.
The fact that you had drugs in your system does not automatically signify that you are under the influence
This is, possibly the most powerful defense for challenging DUID charges in California, because the toxicology test characteristically shows the presence of a drug, not its amount. The prosecution criminalist professional witness will talk about these levels in their testimony in a VC 23152(e) DUI of drugs trials, since there is no logical relationship between the level of impairment and the amount of a drug in your body, as every individual has a specific tolerance to drugs. If you use a specific drug often, you will require more of it to be under the influence than a person who uses the same drug rarely. Every drug has a specific lifespan that varies for a few hours to months, contingent to a broad variety of factors such as weight, tolerance, height, and metabolism.
Other conditions can simulate drug impairment
The fight against the crime of driving under the influence of drugs is a serious endeavor in the state of California. In spite of the fact that the DRE and arresting officer attested that you showed ciphers of impairment, a California DUID attorney might more or less always contest that testament as part of a policy to fight driving under the influence of drugs charges. Bodily disorders such as allergies, fatigue, injury, nerves, and sickness are all innocent reasons that may explain your appearance, and none of them has anything to do with drug impairment. And even renowned indications of impairment can have simple explanations that are not related to the use of drugs. For instance, unintentional twitching of the eye or nystagmus occurs naturally in a particular percentage of people, and poor balance could be as a result of footwear, an old injury or inner ear disorder. Pupil size is also influenced by excitement, nerves, light, and darkness making the arrest due to pupil size not conclusive.
Inaccurate chemical test results
Even after a blood or urine test comes back positive, this cannot form a solid base for a conviction since chemical tests in VC 23152(e) DUI drugs cases are often subject to mistakes. Test outcomes can be null and void because of:
- Inappropriately drawn blood,
- Medical equipment that is contaminated, and
- Incorrect sample handling and storage.
Penalties for a DUID Sentence in California
In most cases, first, second and third occurrences of driving under the influence of drugs are treated as misdemeanors. From the fourth offense going forward, you will be charged with a felony. If you’re a first-time misdemeanor DUID offender without other complications, you will expect to receive any of the penalties below:
- Informal DUI probation of between three to five years,
- At least US$ 390 in fine,
- A maximum of one year in county jail,
- At least six months Department of Motor Vehicle driver’s license suspension, and
- At least three months’ drug education.
The consequences for second and successive DUID offenses characteristically comprise probation, DUI School, and fines. It also attracts a lengthier driver’s license suspension and a compulsory jail sentence that spontaneously increase with each successive DUI of drugs sentence.
California DUI penalties and DUI of drugs conviction vary greatly due to diverse factors such as:
- Prior DUIs,
- Your case circumstance. For instance, if you were involved in a DUI that caused injury, and
- Your criminal record.
All the above will determine the severity of your punishment. If you’re charged with a DUI drugs, you should appeal for DMV hearing within 10 days in order to lessen the odds of an ultimate suspension upon conviction.
Extra offenses that might attract DUI penalties
You should note two extra points in regard to VC 23152(e) DUI sentencing and penalties:
- In case you agree to submit to a breath test and then decline to take a urine or blood test, you will be accused with a refusal to surrender to a DUI chemical breath or blood test. If such a refusal is persistent, it can attract an additional compulsory jail sentence of a minimum of 48 hours and at least driver’s license suspension of one year.
- If you’re already a DUI of any of the particular drugs in the Health and Safety Code 11550 list in California under the influence of a controlled substance law, you could, in addition, be accused of that offense.
California Health and Safety Code 11550 HS attracts a sentence of not more than one year in the county jail. Nonetheless, contrasting driving under the influence of drugs, this charge lets a first-time offender to take part in a drug diversion program, allowing you to do a drug program instead of jail and eventually getting the case terminated.
The Need for a skilled DUI Lawyer
Being convicted of a DUID in the state of California is in many ways much better than in other states because in California, the burden of proving that you were, actually, compromised by the drugs when you were driving lies with the prosecution. Urine and blood tests can be erroneous; an officer’s observations might not even be acceptable in court. An expert DUI of drugs lawyer at Pasadena Criminal Attorney will know how to help you and might look at the particular situations of your case to assist you in getting the lightest possible penalty. Do not hesitate to contact us at 626-689-2277 to discuss your DUID case confidentially with one of our seasoned attorneys.