Arrests for DUI for using prescription drugs are on the rise, especially in California. Any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which is capable of affecting the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person, is considered a "Drug".
Police and prosecutors have also been arresting people for driving under the influence of Marijuana despite the research that indicates impairment is only at very high levels of use.
Prescription Drugs and medications which effect the brain and central nervous system can alter cognition, perception, balance, coordination, attention, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs differ depending on their mechanisms of action, amount taken, the history of the user, and many other factors. Any chemical which has the effect of impairing your ability to safetly operate a vehicle on public road, under ordinary circumstances, may lead to your arrest for DUI Drugs.
If you are stopped and suspected of being under the influence of a prescription drug, the police will summon a drug recognition expert ("DRE") to the scene to evaluate your condition. Although Vehicle Code 23152 (a) applies to drugs, driving under the influence of drugs is prosecuted and defended just as vigorously as driving under the influence of alcohol. Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can greatly increase your chances of winning your DUI Drug case in Court.
DUI Drug cases, generally, do not cause license suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles, ("DMV") unless a person pleads guilty or is convited. Conviction in DUI Drug cases depends upon the extent of law enforcement's ability to demonstrate that the accused's capacity to operate a vehicle safely was impaired due to the particular drugs in his or her system.
Just because a person had consumed prescription medication and drove a vehicle, does not automatically mean the person is guilty of a DUI. Know your rights, contact an attorney and learn everything you can before you make a decision about your case.
Scott D. Hughes is a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California practicing in State and Federal Court.