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Understanding California DUI Drugs (DUID) Charges
originally written Dec 17, 2009
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI drugs - also known as DUID, or informally as "drugged driving" - in California, then you are probably eager to find out what to expect and how to defend yourself. Educating yourself about the process by which DUI drugs cases are prosecuted in California can help you deal with the situation proactively. In addition, hiring an experienced and skilled DUID or DUI drugs attorney can help mitigate the potential consequences, helping you avoid the most serious penalties and fines.
What Drugs Can Make You Legally Impaired?
In California, the "drug" portion of the DUID equation can be any substance that can impair a person's ability to operate a vehicle in a safe and cautious way. The term "drug" does not explicitly refer to illegal substances; legal, over-the-counter medications can qualify as drugs under the terms of a DUID in the state of California. Prescribed medications, controlled substances and illegal drugs similarly all fall under the umbrella of being a "drug" when it comes to California DUI drugs charge.
DUI Drugs Versus An Alcohol DUI: Differences And Similarities
Although the two charges sound quite similar, there are several key differences between an alcohol DUI and a DUID. Consider these facts:
- Unlike with an alcohol DUI, there is no blood alcohol content, or BAC, with which to gauge a driver's level of intoxication.
- When being investigated for a DUID, a driver is not given a breath test. Instead, s/he is typically given a blood test in the state of California. In rare cases, a urine test may be used instead.
- An officer cannot rely on the same observations with a DUID charge as they can with an alcohol DUI charge. In California, a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, is often brought in to observe a suspect and later testifies in court.
- The California DMV cannot suspend a suspect's license for a DUID. The only exception to that rule is when a driver refuses to submit to chemical testing, or has a BAC of 0.8% in addition to being under the influence of a drug.
There are also some similarities between an alcohol DUI charge and a DUID charge. These similarities include:
- Both charges are made under California Vehicle Code section 23152a, whose language includes the terms "drugs" and "alcohol."
- As with an alcohol DUI, a DUI drugs is usually proved through circumstantial evidence. The officer's observations of your driving patterns and your appearance, as well as your performance on any field sobriety tests and chemical tests can all come into play when prosecuting either charge.
- With a DUID, no BAC comes into play; there is no concrete level at which a driver can officially be charged with a DUID.
What Are The Typical Penalties And Fines For DUID In The State Of California?
The penalties that you may incur from being convicted of a DUID in the state of California are dependent on many factors. Things like the specific circumstances of your case, whether or not you have any previous DUIs and your prior criminal history can all play a role in determining your ultimate penalties and fines. For first-time offenders, though, the state of California usually recommends the following guidelines when it comes to sentencing:
- A minimum fine of $390 - with fines and fees, it will actually be closer to $1,000
- Three to five years of informal probation
- A driver's license suspension of at least six months
- A maximum of one year in county jail
- At least three months' worth of drug education classes