Some states have separate statutes addressing drug driving and drunk driving. California’s driving under the influence (DUI) law addresses both kinds of infractions. However, the law is easier for people to understand as it applies to alcohol.
There is a specific chemical limit. Once someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08% or higher or once they display obvious impairment at the wheel, a police officer can arrest them for a drunk driving offense.
People often misunderstand what might lead to drugged driving offenses. The one scenario most people recognize as obviously illegal is the attempt to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a prohibited substance, like heroin or methamphetamine. However, there are other scenarios that could also lead to a drugged driving arrest in California.
The use of marijuana before driving
While recreational and medicinal marijuana are both legal under current California law, the state can and will prosecute those who use marijuana and then drive a motor vehicle.
There is some confusion regarding the enforcement of such rules, and many people simply assume that they will not get into any trouble because there are no breath tests the way that there are with alcohol.
However, police officers can and do arrest people for suspicion of a DUI based on an admission of recent marijuana use.
The consumption of prescription medication
One of the biggest mistakes about impaired driving rules in California is the inaccurate belief that individuals who take legal medication in compliance with their doctor’s recommendations can avoid criminal charges.
However, any prescription medication that might affect someone’s cognitive abilities or motor function could affect their driving skill and therefore the safety of everyone on the road.
Especially if the prescription medication has a warning label about driving or operating heavy machinery or if it causes drowsiness, police officers could potentially arrest you if they discover you have taken medication before driving.
Those accused of a DUI offense related to drugs can potentially defend themselves. The best strategy to use will depend on the substance allegedly involved and the nature of the evidence. Learning about the impaired driving rules that apply in California can help those hoping to avoid charges or hoping to successfully fight back against a recent charge.