According to the California’s Vehicle Code § 23152(a) “it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”
A person is under the inﬂuence if as a result of taking a drug, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.
It should be noted that it is not considered as a defense that the defendant was legally entitled to use the drug.
Thus, there is no difference whether the drugs are illegal or prescribed by doctor. The crucial point is that the driver under the influence of these drugs and as a result can no more drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person.
Consequently, there is no exact excessive blood toxicity level that shows whether the driver is able to use his mental and physical abilities as a sober person or none.
It should be noted that in the terms of the investigation of a California DUI of drugs there are some particularities in testifying of the suspected being intoxicated. If the driver seems to the patrol officer to be intoxicated, he calls DRE (drug recognition expert) who has to identify whether the driver is under the influence of drugs or not. A DRE (drug recognition expert) is a law enforcement officer who is a specially trained to evaluate when a suspect is under the influence of drugs.
Drive under the influence of drugs may be either a felony or a misdemeanor, that is to say it is a “wobbler”. The incrimination depends on the criminal history of the person as well as objective circumstances of the offense. Particularly, in most cases the DUI drugs will be charged as a felony in the following circumstances:
– It is 4th or subsequent DUI conviction of the driver
– There is prior felony DUI conviction
– The driver caused an accident with injuries
The conviction of the DUI of drugs may involve the same penalties as an “ordinary” DUI(depending on the county):
– up to five years of summary probation
– pay a fine of $390, plus penalty assessments
– a DUI school
– a suspension of the driver license for a period up to three years that may be upgraded to a “restricted” privilege
– a jail sentence or work release
In addition, the judge can impose some additional penalties on a third time DUI drugs( including also “ordinary” DUI) in California such as attendance at AA meetings or alcohol treatment program, community service, or attendance at a victim “impact” meeting.
The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. If you have faced accusations of DUI, it is essential to contact an experienced California defense attorney who is will provide legal assistance. We handle every aspect of your case, from the very start through the very last court hearing, all for a flat fee agreed upon before we begin.
You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000
 California Jury Instructions, Criminal CALJIC 16.830