A DUI for Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs?

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You understand that you can be charged with a DUI for driving after drinking alcohol, and for driving after taking illegal drugs. But did you know that you can be charged for driving under the influence when you’ve only taken medicine that was prescribed to you by a doctor, or even purchased over the counter? It’s important to seriously ask yourself whether or not you’re impaired and unsafe when you get behind the wheel, whether or not you’ve been drinking.

Under the California Vehicle Code, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more as measured by a breath, blood, or urine sample; while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage; or while under the influence of any drug (known as driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID). You might assume that “drug” just means an illegal substance, but in fact, California law will consider as a drug “substances, other than alcohol, which could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.”

Under this broad definition of what constitutes a “drug,” officers could potentially charge you with a DUID for essentially any substance, no matter how innocuous, which appears to have worsened your ability to drive, including cold or allergy medication, a prescribed antidepressant or antianxiety medication, or even Nyquil which had not fully left your system before you got on the road. That said, prosecutions for DUID are limited by the fact that there is no set blood concentration percentage which marks someone as impaired or not impaired. Generally, the assistance of a drug-recognition expert will be needed to examine the driver to determine whether that person is impaired, which is not an exact measurement. As a result, these charges can be difficult to prove, and a skilled California criminal defense attorney will make use of the numerous available legal defenses to a charge of DUID.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of a DUI, DUID, or other moving violation in Southern California, contact the dedicated and knowledgeable Ventura criminal law and DUI defense attorney Paul Tyler for a consultation on your case, at 805-889-9000.

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