It’s common knowledge that driving under the influence of drugs is illegal in California. However, determining exactly what constitutes “driving under the influence of drugs” may come as a surprise. Vehicle Code § 23152(f) is the law that makes driving under the influence of drugs illegal. The law is about as clearly written as it can be: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”
While the law is clear in its wording, it still leaves a lot of questions. Below are some of the most common questions about charges related to driving under the influence of drugs.
Is It Illegal to Drive Under the Influence of All Drugs? Or Just Illegal Drugs?
Under § 23152(f), it is against the law to drive while under the influence of any drug. This includes common street drugs such as cocaine, crack, PCP, heroin, fentanyl, and ecstasy. However, it also makes it illegal to drive under the influence of over-the-counter and prescription drugs—even if you have a valid prescription.
What Counts as “Driving” in a California DUI Case?
California provides that “driving” is defined as using physical control to make a vehicle move. So, sitting in a parked car while under the influence of drugs, without more, is insufficient to prove a drug DUI. However, police and prosecutors can rely on circumstantial evidence to prove that the car was moving if they didn’t actually witness any movement.
Are There Defenses to California Drug DUI Cases?
Yes, there are several defenses that may apply after you are arrested and charged with a DUI under § 23152(f). For example, you can challenge the legality of the police officer’s actions leading up to a traffic stop. Generally, police officers need to have either probable cause or reasonable suspicion to pull you over. They also need probable cause to arrest you for DUI. If a police officer stops a car or makes an arrest without justification, any evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop is not admissible at trial.
You may also be able to argue that you were not “under the influence” of drugs, depending on the type of drug in your system. For example, to convict you of a drug DUI for marijuana, prosecutors must prove that your driving was impacted by the marijuana in your system. This requires they point to some type of dangerous driving behavior. If there is an innocent explanation for what may otherwise be considered dangerous driving, it could mean the prosecution can’t prove its case against you.
Have You Been Arrested for a California Drug DUI?
IF you have recently been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in California, reach out to the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman. For over a decade, Attorney Hartman has been exclusively representing clients charged with California DUIs. She has extensive experience defending clients facing all types of driving under the influence charges, including those charged with drug DUIs. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman at 619-260-1122 today.