Many of our clients come into our office and are upset because they have been arrested for a DUI, but have had no alcohol. There is a common misconception that being arrested for a DUI requires alcohol consumption, when in fact it does not.
You can still be arrested if you are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs alone. This not only includes drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine, but it also includes prescription drugs. Many prescription drugs inhibit your ability to operate a vehicle, and if you are on any such drugs, the court may find you guily of a DUI.
The beginning part of California Vehicle Code §23152 reads as follows:
(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
However, there is additional language that has been added to the section that reads as follows:
(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
As well as:
(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
What many people miss is that it the second section of the statutes makes it unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle with any kind of drug in their system. What is also very important to consider is that some prescription drugs that prohibit operation of a vehicle, may also lead to a DUI.
DUIs that involve drug use are harder to prove because a breathalyzer is not issued for drug cases. There is no test that can accurately reflect the drugs in a system other than consenting to a blood test, or the officer’s observations. This makes the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney’s case stronger, and the prosecutor’s case weak. This will give a lot of leeway for your attorney to argue and get a better deal for you, if you choose to take a plea bargain.
It is important that you hire a lawyer early on in the case, prior to any statements being made or pleas being entered. If the case is strategically planned and the proper defenses and arguments are presented in a DUI with solely drugs, there is a strong chance that the case can be dismissed or reduced. Be sure to contact a Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible!