Driving under the influence of drugs, also called DUID, can lead to very tough penalties in California. What does this really mean? What drugs can you take and drive? What are the differences with a drinking and driving arrest? What California laws are you breaking? And how can you get help?
That’s a lot of important questions. First, let’s go over what “under the influence” is.
Under the Influence
Driving under the influence does not only mean alcohol, and in terms of drugs, not just the illegal ones. California law makes it clear that a DUI means you are incapable of driving a vehicle correctly, that your abilities to drive are less than that of a sober person, and that you are endangering others.
If you drink 10 shots of a strong drink, you are incapable of driving correctly. That’s easy to see, but if you get closer to the limit, if you drink less and still drive, you are quite often still endangering others by losing your ability to drive. Now think of that in terms of drug use, whether you’re abusing an illegal drug or taking the prescribed dose of a medicine. In these cases, it can also be hard to gauge your ability to drive. To be under the influence does not necessarily mean you abuse the drug; as long as it harms your ability to drive, you are breaking the law.
What drugs can you take?
You would rarely say, “Drink less and you’re fine to drive,” And it’s the same with drugs. You can never be sure. If you are prescribed a medicine, your doctor will often explain the effects. For example, a prescription for a mental illness may make you sleepy. You need to consult with your doctor if you can safely drive, while also reading the effects the drug will have on you. These are easy to find out.
In all cases, taking illegal drugs of any amount can lead to an accident. Just as simply drinking, even a little, greatly increases your chances of being in an accident, so too does using illegal drugs. You are far more likely to get in an accident, if not get pulled over. And if you’re pulled over after abusing illegal drugs, the California penalties are tough,
What are the differences?
All states make clear the “under the influence” laws, but it’s sometimes hard to see the difference between alcohol and drugs (legal or illegal). In California, there is no legal limit to drug use. If you abuse it or not, it does not matter. What matters is if it makes you under the influence. Just as being caught drinking and driving with open alcohol in the car can lead to charges, so too can driving under the influence of illegal drugs with them in your car can lead to severe penalties (the difference being that you can be charged with breaking drug laws). Also, some drugs stay in your system much longer. You could do an illegal drug – say cocaine – and it could lead to a California DUID charge days later. You’re usually much better after a day or two break of no drinking, but with drugs it can be very different. If you are tested positive for drugs, you can be charged with the DUID.
How can you get help?
A DUID is a very serious charge which requires professional California legal representation. That means hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your case. At the least, a lawyer can lessen charges. In some cases, he or she can help you beat the charges.