Individuals who go driving while under the influence of drugs can be charged under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f), which involves driving under the influence of drugs. In other words, this is the section of California law covering DUIs that don’t involve alcohol.
You can get more information about the penalties for this charge and possible defenses on this page, and how you can protect yourself from getting charged with this crime while taking legal prescription drugs.
What Is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
Drivers in California can face criminal charges for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by both illegal drugs and legally prescribed drugs. Your medical condition is not a defense against driving under the influence of drugs.
It can be very difficult for police officers to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs. Drug recognition experts (DREs) are supposed to help police officers determine if a driver is experiencing drug intoxication, which can lead to an arrest.
Drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs can then be subjected to a blood test. Note that a driver cannot request a breath or saliva test instead, as only blood tests can accurately track non-alcoholic intoxication using current technology.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
Drivers can face misdemeanor or felony charges for driving under the influence of drugs in California. Generally, drivers will only face felony charges if:
- They have three or more prior DUI convictions
- They have one prior felony DUI conviction
- They injure someone while driving under the influence of drugs
The penalties for a misdemeanor and felony conviction vary. However, in both cases, a driver can expect to face fines. A felony conviction can lead to 4 years of time in jail. Drivers may also face a lengthy period of probation if they are convicted under VC 23152(f).
In many cases, the penalties for a violation of VC 23152(f) resemble the penalties for:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI With Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07 Percent
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b): Driving With A Blood Alcohol Content Of 0.08 Percent Or Higher
What Are the Defenses to This Crime?
There are some legal defenses that can be used to address charges for driving under the influence of drugs. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can go over the specifics of your case to determine what defense might work for you.
One common defense for VC 21352(f) involves proving that a driver was not actually under the influence of drugs. This may be true because some drugs remain in an individual’s system long after the time that any intoxication would wear off.
A criminal defense lawyer may need to work with a toxicologist to prove that a driver was no longer impaired when operating a vehicle, despite the presence of drugs in the driver’s blood work. Get the help you need to handle court charges related to VC 21352(f) today.
Examples of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Here are two examples to increase your understanding of VC 23152(f) charges:
Police officers pull over a man after he runs a red light and swerves across the road. After calling out a DRE, it is determined that the man is probably under the influence of drugs. He is arrested and his blood is tested, revealing that he is under the influence of marijuana. He could be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
A woman is out driving her car and runs into a stop sign. The police believe she is under the influence of drugs, and she admits that she took some prescription medication that makes it hard for her to concentrate. Her blood is tested and reveals the presence of the drug. She could face charges under VC 23152(f).
Prescription Drug Warnings
Many prescription drugs come with a warning to “avoid operating heavy machinery” while taking it. This means that it could make you unsafe to drive if you take it. If you take such a drug for the first time, you should avoid getting behind the wheel until you know how it affects you.
The side effects of drugs affect people in different ways, but it only takes one accident or wrong move on the road to get charged with driving under the influence of drugs. Also, if that warning is on the drug, then the prosecution has strong evidence you shouldn’t drive while taking it.
Even certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can make you unsafe to drive, like strong cold medicines or drugs with sleep aids. These may also carry the label against driving, but even if a drug does not have the label, it could affect you in a way that makes you seem drugged to an officer.
The key thing is not the drug, but the influence of the drug on your ability to drive. Even if, for some mysterious reason, taking aspirin made you dizzy and you drove anyway, you’re vulnerable to this charge.
Get Legal Help for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Charges
Drivers who are facing charges under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f): Driving Under the Influence of Drugs can end up facing fines and incarceration. The Simmrin Law Group may be able to help you address these charges. You can find out more about your legal options by taking advantage of one of our FREE case evaluations.