Are you struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction? If you are, don’t get behind the wheel in California. Just driving to the convenience store – even entirely sober – could land you in prison. Believe it or not, it is against the law in California to drive while you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Here’s the quote, directly from the California Vehicle Code: “It is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle.”

How does California determine who is and who isn’t a drug addict? The California Supreme Court was very specific in its 1965 ruling in the case of People v. O’Neil. The court determined that “when an individual … reacts physically to the termination of drug administration … it renders the individual a potential danger on the highway.”

While the California Supreme Court focused on the addict going through withdrawal as a public safety risk, it also ruled that a driver need not be experiencing withdrawal symptoms to be arrested, charged, and convicted of California’s driving-while-addicted law. You can be charged with a crime even if you’re not intoxicated and you’re not going through withdrawals. The law allows an exception only for those who are currently participating in a state-licensed narcotics treatment program. Driving while addicted is a misdemeanor in California, but the consequences can nevertheless be severe.

If you are charged with driving while addicted or any other DUI-related offense in southern California, your best choice is hiring an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. A good DUI defense lawyer will advise you regarding your options, help you obtain evidence and line up witnesses, and work to have your charge reduced or dismissed quickly. Don’t let a DUI or a driving-while-addicted charge imperil your future; contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney promptly.