Driving while under the influence is a serious crime in California. The penalties that you may face if convicted can be severe. Not only that, but even before you go to court for a DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles may curtail your driving privileges with an administrative action on the basis of your arrest.
The text of the DUI law refers to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This means that the law makes no distinction between intoxication with alcohol and the use of other substances. In effect, the drunk driving law is also a drugged driving law.
What are the consequences of drugged driving?
Upon your conviction on charges of driving under the influence, the DMV may take additional action to revoke or suspend your driving privileges. This is in addition to the administrative action it can take prior to your conviction. The court has the authority to impose penalties, such as requiring you to complete a DUI program, pay a fine and/or serve time in jail.
A law enforcement officer who pulls you over on suspicion of DUI has the legal authority to require you to submit to drug testing of your urine or blood. You are subject to a longer driver’s license revocation or suspension if you refuse.
Which drugs does the law include?
Even drugs that are legal for you to take, such as medications that you obtain over the counter or with a prescription, have the potential to impair your driving ability. Therefore, it is illegal to drive with any substance in your system that could cause impairment. The law makes no distinction between illegal drugs and medications.
How can you prevent DUI?
You may reduce the likelihood that you will face DUI charges by reading the labels of your medications and being aware of the effects they are likely to have. Pay particular attention to whether the medication may interact with alcohol. If you are not sure if it is safe to drive while on the medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist.