Facing DUI Charges

Driving under the influence

Facing a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) on drugs charge can be overwhelming. With all the apprehensions, possible sentences, and dire outcomes that could happen when fighting the charge at trial, it can be easier to think about self-representation. Plea bargaining, pleading guilty, or no contest to a DUI charge without an attorney to lower the sentences can be appealing.  

However, it is always a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer if you are facing such charges. Several solid defenses could be built on your case and plea bargaining is not your only option for a desirable outcome. A law firm specializing in criminal defense such as the Law Offices of Andrew Dósa can be relied on to defend you against any criminal charges, including DUIs.

Plea Bargaining vs Trial

Most criminal cases including DUIs are resolved through plea bargaining as it is usually quick and easy to close such cases. A plea deal is the best option for a first-time defendant when the evidence is strong and there aren’t any strong rebuttals available. It is only logical to minimize the possible penalties through plea bargaining. 

The state of California implements “wet reckless” convictions or those when the defendant pleads guilty with no contest due to entering into a plea agreement. In the plea bargain, the prosecutor consents to drop the more serious DUI charge as long as the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the less serious “wet reckless” charge.

Usually, California also cuts some slack to first-time offenders. Court costs can also be a factor. 

However, pleading guilty to a DUI on drugs charge will reflect on your record forever. And when a solid defense is available to you, then going into trial could be your best course of action. 

If you are charged with a DUI on drugs in Alameda County, California, the  Law Offices of Andrew Dósa can evaluate your case for you. Experience and knowledge of local courts play a critical role in ensuring a favorable outcome when it comes to DUI charges.

What Are DUI Laws in California

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious crime in the United States. However, each state implements varying schemes for sentences and penalties for those convicted with a DUI.

Three primary DUI laws are applied to adult drivers and/or motorists in California.

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC – This DUI law sanctions driving under the influence of alcohol as illegal
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC – This DUI law sanctions driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or greater as unlawful
  • Vehicle Code 12152 (f) VC – This DUI law sanctions driving under the influence of drugs

California Vehicle Code 12152 (f) VC

Under this California law, drugs are defined as any substance or combination of substances (besides alcohol) that affect your nervous system, brain, and/or muscles. 

On the other hand, a drug-related DUI is defined as when “your physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.”

What sets apart alcohol-related DUIs and drug-related DUIs is that the law has not set any limits to the amount of drugs in your system in order to be allowed to drive. The maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC test results) for alcohol is .08%, whereas there is zero-tolerance law for drugs. 

It is important to note that the length of time that traces of alcohol and drugs can be detected in your body is different. While alcohol can leave no trace in your body in a matter of hours, drugs are traceable for weeks or months.

Moreover, whether it was illegal drugs or prescription drugs that were found in your system makes no difference. Even if you hold legal prescriptions for anxiety pills or if the drugs were over the counter, the drug-related DUI can still be charged. 

What will be decided in a trial is whether the drugs in your system have affected your ability to drive a vehicle safely.  The district attorney will rely on observations and testimonies in order to prove that you were under the influence and that you had impaired driving skills and committed traffic violations at the time. 

Penalties On Drug-Related DUIs in California

Whether the charge is for alcohol or drugs, the penalties for a DUI are usually the same. 

When California courts decide on penalties imposed for DUIs, two primary factors are generally considered: the number of prior offenses and did the DUI result in injuries, damages, and/or deaths. 

Most DUI involving drugs are charged as misdemeanors. Aggravating circumstances and prior offenses could bump up the charge as a felony.

Conviction of a drug-related DUI usually entails:

  • DUI probation from 3 to 5 years
  • Attendance to DUI classes or drug treatment programs
  • Fines of about $1800 for the first offense
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlocking device (IID) at the cost of the defendant
  • Jail time depending on circumstances and prior record

Some if not all of these penalties can be circumvented if the charges are negotiated down to reckless driving or speed exhibition.

However, the Health and Safety Code 11550 lists some drugs and controlled substances that are considered illegal. If you are proven to be under the influence of and register for any of the drugs in the said list, then you will be facing penalties under this law as well and such could aggravate your case. 

Drug-related DUI Defenses

Having a solid defense could make going into trial worthwhile. Below are some examples proven to have favorable outcomes for the defendant.

  • Non-compliance of the strict system stipulated in the California Title 17 procedures on the collection, storage or analysis of blood or urine samples.
  • Having drugs in your system does not immediately mean that you are driving under the influence. Remember that drugs can stay in your system for weeks or months.
  • Challenging the DUI stop. The officer may not have justified reasons and probable cause for pulling you over.
  • Accuracy and validity of chemical test results is also a good defense. There could be errors in blood draw procedures, contamination of medical equipment, or incorrect handling and storage.

Fighting the Testimony

Despite the odds and the challenges of a drug-related DUI, a California DUI drug attorney is capable of fighting the testimony of the prosecution. Should you have more questions on driving under the influence of drugs charges in California, you can contact the  Law Offices of Andrew Dósa, a criminal defense firm in California that has a team of criminal defense attorneys handling DUI cases in and around Alamda County, CA