Most people understand the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) as it relates to alcohol. Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher is illegal in California — and those convicted of this crime may face harsh penalties.
What many people do not realize is that it’s also possible to be arrested for DUI if a law enforcement officer believes you are impaired due to drug use. This includes illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, and legal prescription medications that may impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Police officers, prosecutors and court officials take drug-related DUI very seriously in California, and those found guilty of this offense could face jail time, large fines and suspended driving privileges. To that end, it’s important to meet with a Los Angeles DUI attorney if you have been accused of this crime.
Possible penalties for drug DUI
The legal consequences for a drug DUI are essentially the same as drunk driving in California. If it’s your first offense, you may face between four days and six months in a county jail facility and need to pay a fine of up to $1,000. You may also have your driver’s license suspended for up to 10 months and be required to attend drug abuse recovery classes.
On a second offense for drug DUI, the potential penalties include up to one year in jail, fines up to $1,800 and a two-year license suspension. Convictions on third, fourth and subsequent offenses come with even harsher consequences — with longer jail sentences, higher fines and suspended driving privileges that may last years.
How do officers check for drug-related impairment?
If law enforcement officers believe you’ve been driving while impaired, they may ask you to conduct a field sobriety check, including a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. They may also call on a drug recognition expert (DRE), who is trained in detecting signs of impairment based on an individual’s appearance and behaviors. At this point, the DRE may ask that you submit a blood, urine or saliva for a toxicology lab examination.
It is important to understand that the tests police officers, DREs and lab technicians use to judge someone’s level of impairment are far from perfect. There are no tools available similar to a Breathalyzer test to check for alcohol consumption.
Additionally, police officers must follow certain procedures when searching and seizing your property. If they did not have good reason for pulling you over in the first place or searched your vehicle without your consent, they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. This is another common issues when it comes to DUI and drug-related arrests.
To that end, be sure to speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney if you’ve been arrested for drug DUI in Southern California. You may have a number of options available to you to protect your constitutional rights.
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The attorneys at the Omofoma Law Firm are experienced DUI lawyers who can help you fight your charges. As top criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, including Huntington Park, Alhambra and Monterey Park.
We are available 24/7 to provide you with a free case evaluation. Give us a call at (213) 455-4050.