If you have been recently arrested on the charge of DUI Drugs, that is, of DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) or "drugged driving," you face as severe consequences upon a conviction as anyone convicted of an "ordinary" DUI. The best legal strategies for defeating charges of DUI Drugs, however, differ at points from those better suited for DUI Alcohol, and it is imperative that you have a defense lawyer with experience in this special practice area.
At the Law Office of David J. Givot, we understand the details of California law on DUI Drugs and have long experience in winning these types of cases in local courts of the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas. Contact us today at 888-293-0396 for immediate assistance.
What Is "DUI Drugs?"
California Vehicle Code Section 23152e criminalizes driving DUI drugs, while VC Section 23152f does the same for driving DUID and DUI simultaneously.
With DUI Drugs, there is no need for a specific quantity of the drug in question to be in your system (as with DUI Alcohol, which requires .08% in most cases). Any amount at all discovered in your system can make you guilty of this crime so long as the drug is deemed to have inhibited your ability to operate the motor vehicle safely.
A "drug" is any substance that can affect your nervous system, your brain, or your muscle coordination in such a way that you become mentally or physically impaired. It can be illegal, prescription, or even certain over-the-counter drugs — anything that causes you to fail to exercise the "caution a sober person would ordinarily in the same situation."
Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)
While a DUI Drugs stop and arrest begin the same as for DUI Alcohol, when a police officer allegedly notices a traffic violation or driving habits "characteristic of one driving DUI," it proceeds differently.
The arresting officer will give a breath test to the suspect, and if he/she passes it but appears to the officer show signs of intoxication, the officer will call in a DRE.
The DRE will go through a predetermined twelve-step evaluation process to determine if the suspect is under the influence of a drug, and if so, which drug it is. A blood test will always be taken, though at the police station lab and not roadside.
Other evidences the DRE will gather, and later likely testify of in court, include:
- Involuntary eye movements in a failed horizontal gaze nystagmus eye test, a failed eye-tracking exam, and/or a failed pupil-size test in a dark room.
- Unusual pulse rates.
- Failure of filed sobriety tests, showing lack of balance and coordination.
- Finding trace amounts of drugs in or on your nose/mouth.
- Lack of normal muscle tone.
- Discovery of a needle injection site.
What to Expect from the Prosecution
There are many possible factors that may come up in a California DUI Drug case, but the main evidence against you will consist in the blood test results, the testimony of the arresting officer, and the testimony of the drug recognition expert (DRE).
Expect the officer to say that he suspected you were DUI either alcohol or drugs based on the manner in which you drove, your personal appearance at the time, and your failing the FSTs. Especially expect to hear that you did not drive with the "caution characteristic of a sober person" and that he noticed reddened or watery eyes, slurring of speech, and other "tell-tale signs of drug use."
Unless you are being charged with DUI Drugs and Alcohol, the officer will say you passed the breath test, but he called in the DRE based on his observations of you and your driving. If no DRE was available, it may be more difficult for the prosecution to prove its case. However, if a DRE testifies, he/she will mention all the observations of the 12-step process and especially the blood test results.
Possible Penalties if Convicted of DUI Drugs
Unless there were aggravating factors, like an injury or death being cause by a DUI accident, DUI Drugs is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense, unless the defendant already has 3 or more DUIs on his record (then it is a felony).
As a misdemeanor, DUI Drugs is punishable by:
- 3 to 5 years of informal probation.
- A fine and fees that usually total around $1,800.
- Up to 6 months in jail. This is not usually sentenced for a first-time offense, however.
- A 6 month suspension of driving privileges.
- Attendance at a state-approved DUI school for 3 months or longer.
For additional offenses, or for felony level DUI Drugs, you will see higher fines, longer probationary periods, longer DUI school attendance required, longer license suspensions, and in some cases, mandatory jail time.
Also note that refusal to take the breath or blood test will result in a mandatory 48-hour stay in county jail and at least a 12-month license suspension. and you can also be charged separately for use of a specific illegal drug, besides the DUI Drugs charge, thus adding to your sentence.
If a plea agreement is reached and the DUI Drugs charge is dropped, it is possible to get into a drug diversion program in place of jail time, but only a good defense lawyer is likely to fight and secure such an agreement.
Finally, be aware that even if the prosecution cannot prove the charge of DUI Drugs, it is possible they may attempt to prove the related charge of "driving while addicted to drugs" (VC 23152c) if some amount of drugs was found in the blood test (but not enough to put you clearly "under the influence). Again, you will need a skilled DUID defense lawyer to defeat that attempt because if it succeeds, the same penalties will apply as for a DUI Drugs conviction.
Common Defense Strategies
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we always investigate the details of each specific case we handle and form a fully "customized" instead of a "cookie cutter" defense. Yet, there is no denying that many of the same basic kinds of defenses come up again and again in DUI Drugs cases. Here are some of the defense strategies we use most commonly:
- Violation of your rights: It may be the arresting officer stopped you without probable cause, committed illegal searches and seizures, failed to read your The Miranda Rights before questioning and/or arresting you, or otherwise violated your Constitutional rights. If so, we can likely get the charges dismissed or some of the prosecution's main evidence declared inadmissible.
- Violation of Title 17: In California, officers making arrest must follow a strict code of procedures called "Title 17." Any failure to follow these regulations, which concern to proper taking and safe storage of blood/breath samples and related matters, can call the prosecution's case into serious question.
- Insufficient quantity of drugs: Even if drugs were discovered in your system in the blood test, if they were only found in very small amounts, it may not have been enough to categorize you as "under the influence." What amount is sufficient varies from person to person based on height, weight, metabolism, and tolerance levels to the drug in question.
- Misleading "signs" of drug use: An officer or even DRE can testify that you exhibited signs of intoxication and drug use, but there are many other possible reasons for a person to exhibit such signs. Someone who is excessively tired, has a bad allergy, is extremely nervous, or has certain medical conditions can easily give the appearance of intoxication when completely sober. And even the eye tests of the DRE are not foolproof: some people naturally jerk their eyes involuntarily and pupil size is affected by nerves and light/dark as much as by drugs.
- The blood test is unreliable: Much of the prosecution's case rests on the blood test, but these can be thrown off by a number of factors. If the sample was collected improperly or stored insecurely, it could have been contaminated. If testing equipment was not regularly maintained and cleaned, it could throw off the results. An independent blood test can often yield significantly different results, either showing no drugs at all or a much lower quantity.
Contact Us Today
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we have the legal know-how and resources to win your DUI Drugs case. David J. Givot has successfully handled both a large number and a wide variety of DUI Drugs cases in the past, winning the best possible outcome, be that a dismissal, acquittal, or a reduced charge/sentence.
To learn more or for a free legal consultation, do not hesitate to contact us 24/7/365 at 888-293-0396. We serve Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Coachella Valley, La Quinta, Indian Wells, and the whole surrounding "Desert Empire" region.