Representing Individuals in Southern California Accused of Driving Under the Influence of a Prescription Drug
Not all DUI charges involve alcohol. It is illegal in California to drive under the influence of any drug, even a medication that has been legally prescribed for your use.
Randy Collins has been recognized as a top criminal defense attorney in Orange County. His years of experience defending DUI arrests and drug charges makes him well qualified to challenge prescription drug DUI accusations.
To learn how The Law Offices of Randy Collins can assist you with a prescription drug DUI charge anywhere in Southern California, make an appointment at one of the law firm’s convenient offices in Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Fullerton, and Riverside. You can contact the firm through this website or by calling (888) 250-2865.
Prosecutors have a weapon they can wield to prove DUI charges involving alcohol that is not available when the DUI accusation involves prescription drugs. California’s “per se” law makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. That law relieves prosecutors of the burden of proving that a driver was “under the influence” of alcohol.
No similar “per se” law applies to prescription drugs in California. Prosecutors who were interviewed by researchers for the California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted that “it is difficult to convict for drugs-only DUI primarily because there are no scientifically based per-se impairment levels established for prescription drugs in California.”
California juries are told that a driver is under the influence if “his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.” Prosecutors must therefore prove impairment to obtain a prescription drug DUI conviction. It is not necessary, however, to prove that the driver took more than the prescribed amount of the drug or was using the drug illegally. When a prescription drug label warns against driving after consuming the drug, that drug probably creates a risk of causing impairment even if the driver has taken the dose that the doctor prescribed.
Prosecutors can use blood tests to establish that the driver was using a prescription drug, but only if the test was legally obtained. Challenges to the legality of a traffic stop, an arrest based on field sobriety tests, and the extraction of a driver’s blood are powerful tools in the arsenal of a prescription drug DUI defense lawyer. Cases are usually dismissed when those challenges succeed.
Prosecutors can also use a driver’s admissions to prove that the driver consumed a prescription drug, assuming that those admissions were legally obtained. That is why drivers should never answer any questions about drug consumption that they are asked during a traffic stop.
Proving that a driver used a prescription drug is only half the prosecutor’s battle. The other half is proving that the driver was under the influence of that drug. Prosecutors often try to demonstrate that a driver’s balance or reaction time was impaired by introducing evidence of poor performance on field sobriety tests. A careful cross-examination of the arresting officer often reveals that the officer did not conduct the test or record the results correctly.
In any event, the act of driving does not involve standing on one leg or walking heel-to-toe. A skilled prescription drug DUI defense attorney can persuade juries that field sobriety tests do not establish whether a driver can drive safely.
Prosecutors also rely on evidence of bad driving, which is usually their strongest proof of impaired driving ability. Vigorous attacks upon that evidence typically establish that the driving was not as bad as the arresting officer claimed. Since there are usually innocent explanations (such as distraction that is unrelated to prescription drug use) for swerving, running a red light, or involvement in an accident, a skilled prescription drug DUI defense lawyer can often establish reasonable doubt that leads to a verdict of “not guilty.”
Randy Collins knows that any DUI conviction has serious consequences. Those consequences could include incarceration, loss of driving privileges, and for some people, loss of employment. The effective defense of a prescription drug DUI accusation can help you minimize or avoid those consequences.