It is a criminal offense in California to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug. California drivers may be found guilty of Driving under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) when their sobriety is affected by any drug, whether illegal, prescription, over-the-counter, or a combination of any drug and alcohol.
The statute, California Vehicle Code § 23152 (f), not only applies to the offense of driving while under the influence of marijuana, it applies to any drug that may impair a driver’s ability to drive. The only applicable factor is whether the substance impairs a driver’s ability to drive safely. It is no defense that the alleged offender was permitted to use the drug pursuant to a prescription or medical marijuana card.
Thus, a “drug” under § 23152 (f) includes illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and LSD. Also included are prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and Ambien. It may even apply to over-the-counter drugs such as cold medicines, allergy medicines, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.
What is interesting About DUID is that, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, there is no legal limit for driving under the influence of drugs. Thus, law enforcement has a substantial amount of discretion to arrest individuals simply suspected of drugged driving.
Police will use drug recognition experts, police officers specially trained to recognize signs of drug impairment, to investigate a suspected DUID offense. An investigation starts with a driver interview and typically involves field sobriety tests, measuring the driver’s vital signs, detecting any objective symptoms of intoxication, and taking urine or blood samples.
California drivers may only violate Vehicle Code § 23152(f) if they are “driving” a vehicle. A person “drives” a vehicle by intentionally using physical control to make it move. Law enforcement may use circumstantial evidence to establish movement even if they do not see the vehicle move. While the engine does not need to be running, the vehicle still must move.
There are many defenses that can be used to fight a DUI or DUID charge, get evidence suppressed, and ultimately dismiss the DUI or DUID. As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.