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How Do Prescription Medications Impact DUI Cases in San Bernardino County?


Can I Face DUI Charges for Being Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs?

When people hear of California DUI charges, they often think of alcohol or illegal drug-related charges. The perception is based on California’s Vehicle Code Section 23152(f), which makes it a criminal offense to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The law doesn’t differentiate between illegal and legally prescribed drugs as long as they can impair a driver’s ability to drive. If you’re facing DUI charges because you were intoxicated by prescription medication, you could be scared and unsure of how to navigate the matter. Contact skilled San Bernardino DUI defense lawyers immediately for legal assistance.

What Happens After Being Arrested for a Drug-Related DUI?

Law enforcers lack a mobile device that can easily detect the presence or measure the amount of drugs in a driver’s system like they do with alcohol. So, law enforcers rely on Drug Recognition Expert officers to conduct field tests to check whether a driver is under the influence of drugs. The officers have extra training in recognizing drug impairment in drivers.

Like other DUIs, a DUI based on prescription drugs will charged as a misdemeanor, but aggravating factors can cause it to be charged as a felony. Prescription-related DUIs are wobblers, but regardless of the classification, the consequences can be severe. If police officers stop, arrest, and charge you with a DUI on prescription drugs, contact San Bernardino non-prescription DUI defense lawyers.

What Qualifies as a Drug Under California Vehicle Code 23152?

The definition of a drug is broad as far as DUI laws in San Bernardino are concerned. It refers to any substance or a combination that could dramatically affect the nervous system, muscles, or brain, affecting their ability to drive like they would under normal circumstances.

Drugs inhibit your ability to drive in full possession of your faculties and limit your consciousness of reasonable care. They include illegal narcotics, over-the-counter sleep aids, and prescription medication.

San Bernardino non-prescription DUI defense attorneys highlight the following as some standard prescription and over-the-counter drugs that commonly lead to DUI charges in California:

  • Morphine
  • Prescription marijuana
  • Vicodin
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Cough medicines that cause drowsiness
  • Ambien
  • Xanax
  • Antihistamines

Drug Effects That Can Cause a DUI Charge

Any drug type that causes the following side effects can cause a DUI arrest that can ultimately result in a DUI conviction:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Diminished coordination
  • Nausea
  • Reduced concentration and blurred vision

Different drugs have varying effects on individuals, and combining alcohol with otherwise safe drugs can dramatically affect your driving ability. Skilled DUI defense lawyers in San Bernardino will have in-depth knowledge of how these drugs work and their impact on your system. The knowledge could be vital in building a solid defense to have the charges dropped.

What Are the Penalties for Prescription Drug DUIs in California?

DUI offenses are often treated as misdemeanors in California unless the charges involve bodily injury or you have prior DUI charges or convictions. DUI penalties are usually the same for alcohol and drugs, with the penalties increasing if certain circumstances surround the crime. DUI offenses will be charged as a felony if:

  • It is the fourth or subsequent offense
  • You have a prior felony DUI conviction
  • Your DUI offense caused bodily harm to another person or led to their death

If the charges don’t meet any of these conditions, they could be charged as a misdemeanor. The possible penalties are as follows:

  • First DUI offense: A jail sentence of between three days and six months, a minimum fine of $390, and suspension of driving privileges for six months. You will also require a minimum three-month drug prevention program, after which the entire jail sentence could be suspended.
  • Second DUI offense: The possible penalties for a second DUI offense are between 34 days and one year in county jail, fines, a driver’s license suspension, and up to 30 months of mandatory drug education classes
  • Third DUI offense: It carries a jail sentence of 6 months to one year in county jail, fines, suspension of your driver’s license for three years, and a mandatory drug education class for 30 months.

If you get a felony conviction for DUI on prescription drugs, the penalty is a state prison term for at least 16 months and up to 4 years. A conviction also attracts a $5,000 fine and driver’s license suspension for at least one year.

How Can I Defend Myself Against Prescription Drug DUI?

Defending yourself against DUI charges can be complex because California frowns against DUI offenders. However, all hope is not lost, and skilled non-prescription DUI lawyers in San Bernardino can help you navigate the charges through some of the following defense strategies:

  • Challenging the traffic stop
  • Challenging the test procedures
  • Challenging the collection of samples
  • Arguing that having drugs in your system doesn’t necessarily mean your driving skills were inhibited

Navigating Prescription DUI Charges with the Help of a Skilled DUI Attorney

Facing DUI charges based on prescription drugs can be scary, especially if you took the medications due to a medical condition. A conviction can have a lasting impact on your record, reducing your chances of obtaining many life opportunities. If you’re in that situation, contact experienced San Bernardino non-prescription DUI defense attorneys for legal counsel.

The team at Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, is knowledgeable in drug DUI cases. We focus our practice on representing those who have “falsely” been accused, helping them fight for the most favorable outcome. No matter your DUI charges, we can fight for your rights. Call us at 909-500-4819 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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