Non-alcohol-related DUIs are increasing in California, and it’s not entirely due to marijuana. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs also impair the ability to drive, and drivers using those drugs are routinely getting behind the wheel, being arrested, and facing DUI charges. It’s important for drivers to know that a variety of medications, including most prescription pharmaceuticals, impact their ability to drive safely.

While we all know that drugs and driving don’t mix, some of us sometimes “forget what we know” when we’re intoxicated. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, don’t drive when you’re under the influence. Scrutinize drug labels cautiously; warnings on most medications will indicate if users should not drive or operate heavy equipment. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about a particular medication.

No national consensus has emerged regarding how to determine a legal limit for marijuana intoxication; unlike alcohol, traces of marijuana remain in a user’s system for days after the intoxication has subsided. As medical marijuana use rises, lawmakers will be under increasing pressure to determine a “legal” marijuana limit and to find a test that measures it more or less accurately. In several states with “per se” marijuana-DUI laws, tests are used that measure the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana’s psychoactive constituent) in a suspect’s bloodstream. Critics of the tests hold that marijuana intoxication simply cannot be measured like alcohol intoxication; they allege – in the January 23 Huffington Post, for example – that people are being charged with marijuana-DUI days and even weeks after the effect of the pot has worn off.

In California, if you’re charged with any DUI, you face potentially severe consequences including fines, license suspension or revocation, and jail time. It’s imperative for anyone accused of DUI to get help right away from an experienced California DUI defense attorney. A good DUI defense lawyer will evaluate your case and work to have your charge reduced or dismissed entirely, or to win an acquittal at trial. If you face the charge, protect your rights and your future by contacting an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately.