DUI and Drugs, and Additional Charges
In circumstances where a suspect is stopped by the police for DUI based on drugs as opposed to alcohol, the police are entitled to require that the suspect submit to either a urine test or a blood test. Obviously, a breath test is inappropriate as breath machines measure alcohol only.
If the blood or urine analysis indicates a positive test for drugs, the Prosecuting agency may file the DUI charge and additionally a charge of being under the influence of drugs per Health and Safety Code Section 11550. Seperate to the DUI charge, it is a misdemeanor to use or be under the influence of any controlled substance. This code section mandates a minimum sentence of 90 days in county jail, and up to a maximum of one year in county jail.
If a defendant is found to be under the influence of a controlled substance with a valid prescription, this provides the defendant with a defense to the charge. The Prosecution will place the burden on the defendant to show a valid prescription for the drug in question.
Many people drive with prescription medication in their system and in our experience, doctors are often reluctant to advise people not to drive in circumstances where they are at risk of prosecution. Medication bottles often caution against driving, but fall short of advising people not to drive. Prosecutions for DUI are often based on common medications for pain, depression and anxiety. If you have any questions about your medication and whether it is safe to drive, you should consult with your doctor.
However, you should also talk to a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney familiar with defending DUI charges based on drugs. Even in circumstances where a doctor believes it is safe to drive with medication, police officers, prosecutors, judges and juries are free to disagree and you may be placing yourself at risk every time you get behind the wheel.