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Drug DUI Charges | Free Consultations

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Most people in Southern California are familiar with the offense of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. It is less well known that the same crime is committed by driving under the influence of a drug.

Arrests are typically made when the police view signs of intoxication that are coupled with erratic driving but cannot detect alcohol on the driver’s breath. If the driver passes a preliminary breath test, the police often make an arrest for drug DUI so they can demand a blood test.

If the test result is positive for a drug that can impair the ability to drive, the driver is likely to face a criminal charge.

Fortunately, there are many defenses to these charges. With offices in Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Fullerton Orange County and Riverside, The Law Offices of Randy Collins is able to represent drivers charged with drug DUI in all Southern California courts. If you are facing a charges, call (888) 250-2865 to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney.

Important Evidence

The prosecution needs to prove two things to obtain a conviction:

A driver is “under the influence” if the drug impaired his or her physical or mental abilities to the extent that he or she was incapable of driving with the caution of a sober person.

A “drug” is any substance that could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles in a way that appreciably impairs the ability to drive. Prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, and other illegal drugs all fall within that definition. So do substances like glue and other household chemicals if inhaling or ingesting them affects the ability to drive safely.

Differences Between Alcohol DUI and Drug DUI

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Prosecutors try to prove most alcohol DUI crimes with breath or blood tests showing that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. They can also try to prove an alcohol DUI with evidence that the driver was “under the influence,” but it is easier to rely on BAC results.

There are no “legal limits” with regard to drug DUI. Prosecutors may be able to rely on blood tests to prove that a driver had consumed a drug, but whether a particular level of a particular drug in a driver’s bloodstream is likely to impair the driver is often unclear.

For that reason, prosecutors usually rely on additional evidence to prove that a driver’s ability to drive safely was impaired. That evidence, usually provided in the testimony of the arresting officer, might consist of:

Fortunately, most of that evidence is subjective. Skilled cross-examination often undercuts the credibility of the officers who testify and exposes reasonable doubt.

Defenses

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Initial defenses often challenge the decision to arrest the driver. If the police did not have a legitimate reason to make a traffic stop, to order the driver out of the car, to request field sobriety tests, or to make an arrest, incriminating evidence can be suppressed (or thrown out), including blood test results.

Other defenses focus on alternative explanations for the evidence that the prosecutor regards as incriminating. Bloodshot eyes might be explained by fatigue. Poor balance could result from a knee injury or some other infirmity. Bad driving might have been caused by obstacles in the road that the officer did not see.

Still other defenses challenge the procedures followed by the officers. If field sobriety tests are valid at all, they are only valid if they are performed exactly as the training manual specifies. Most officers cannot remember all the details contained in the training manual. Cross-examination typically exposes flaws in the way they administered the tests. Drug recognition experts are also expected to follow strict procedures that they can rarely remember.

Finally, defenses can focus on the drug test results. Expert witnesses can be used to challenge the assumption that a drug test result proves that a driver was under the influence. Since there is rarely a consensus in the scientific community that a specific concentration of any drug other than alcohol impairs the ability to drive safely, expert witness testimony often creates reasonable doubt that leads to a “not guilty” verdict.

Southern California Legal Representation

Too many lawyers collect a fee and plead a client guilty without putting up a fight. The Law Offices of Randy Collins provides an aggressive defense tailored to the unique facts of each case. A multi-pronged defense strategy might include filing motions to have evidence suppressed, negotiating for a noncriminal disposition, and if necessary, seeking an acquittal in a jury trial.

Recognized as one of the Top Defense Attorneys in Orange County, Randy Collins represents individuals charged with drug DUI in all Southern California courts. If you are facing a charge in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside County, or elsewhere in Southern California, you owe it to yourself to get advice from an experienced defense attorney. Call (888) 250-2865 to learn how The Law Offices of Randy Collins can help you fight for your rights.

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Excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration

Courts take a number of factors into account when they decide upon a DUI sentence. One of those is the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or above, but section 23578 of California’s Vehicle Code requires courts to consider a BAC of 0.15 or higher as a “special factor” that may justify an enhanced sentence.

Even when a driver receives probation, the court is likely to impose punitive conditions that will make a driver’s life more difficult.

Refusal to Take a Test

If you refuse to take a chemical test of your breath or blood and are convicted of DUI, the fact that you refused is another “special factor” that can be used to enhance your sentence. Since judges have no evidence of your actual BAC when you refuse a test, they tend to assume that your BAC was at a high level and sentence you accordingly.

Excessive Speed

Exceeding the speed limit by at least 30 mph on a freeway or 20 mph on any other road subjects the driver to an enhanced DUI penalty. Section 23582 of the Vehicle Code provides for an additional 60 days to be tacked onto the sentence that a DUI driver would otherwise receive.

Section 23582 VC tells judges to impose the 60 day sentence as a condition of probation if the judge places the driver on probation for the DUI charge. The law also requires the 60 days to be imposed as a consecutive sentence, so it cannot overlap the sentence imposed for the underlying DUI offense.

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Reckless Driving

The offense of reckless driving is defined in 23103 VC as driving “in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” That essentially means driving in a manner that endangers other people or their vehicles, even if you did not actually become involved in an accident.

Driving recklessly, like driving at an excessive speed, is an aggravating DUI factor specified in 23582 VC. It subjects a driver to the additional 60 days in jail on the terms that are described above.

Minor in Vehicle

Committing a DUI while a child under the age of 14 is a passenger in the vehicle subjects the driver to at least an additional 48 hours in jail. That sentence is mandatory, even if probation is granted on the underlying offense.

It cannot be stayed and it cannot be divided into shorter periods that can be served in intervals. Longer enhanced sentences may also apply, depending on the DUI offense with which the driver is charged.

Causing an Accident

If you cause an accident that leads to an injury while you are DUI, you will probably be charged under section 23153 VC. That aggravated offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense. If you cause a hit-and-run accident while you are DUI, you will probably be charged with hit-and-run in addition to facing a longer DUI sentence

Even if you caused an accident that did not result in an injury, many judges will view the accident as a reason to increase your OWI sentence. The impact of an accident upon your DUI sentence may depend upon the court in which you are prosecuted.

Client Reviews

I had never gotten in trouble before, so I was pretty concerned when I called the Law Offices of Randy Collins. After a 30 minute consultation about my DUI with injury I felt like I was in the right hands. I went with them and was very happy with the result.

Rob D.