WHAT DOES THE STATE HAVE TO PROVE TO CONVICT SOMEONE OF DRUGGED DRIVING

WHAT DOES THE STATE HAVE TO PROVE TO CONVICT SOMEONE OF DRUGGED DRIVING?

DRUGGED DRIVINGIn the state of California, DUID stands for driving under the influence of drugs, and the charge is commonly called “drugged driving.” Precisely what constitutes drugged driving? What are the penalties if someone is convicted of DUID? And what does the state have to prove to convict someone of drugged driving? You’re about to learn those answers – and more.

All impaired driving is illegal in California. It doesn’t matter if the impairment is caused by alcohol, cannabis, an illegal drug, a doctor’s prescription, or even an over-the-counter medicine. Breathalyzers are used to test suspected drunk drivers, but when a law officer suspects that a driver is impaired by something other than alcohol, there is no easy way to determine or measure that driver’s level of impairment.

Because nothing comparable to a breathalyzer is available to the police officer on the street, proving that a motorist is guilty of driving under the influence of drugs is significantly more difficult for the state than proving that a motorist is guilty of DUI. Drugged driving is on the rise in this state and across the nation, but so are wrongful drugged driving arrests and prosecutions of innocent drivers.

WHAT DRUGS IMPAIR THE ABILITY TO DRIVE?

Drugs including cannabis, heroin, hydrocodone, cocaine, and PCP, along with over-the-counter products like Nyquil and cough medicine, can all impair a person’s driving ability. Researchers have determined that traffic fatalities linked to drugged driving increased from 16 percent of all traffic deaths in the United States in 1999 to 28 percent in 2010, and the trend is still growing.

If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs in southern California, you must be represented by an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. Precisely what is drugged driving? What does the state of California have to prove to convict someone of driving under the influence of drugs?

HOW IS A DUID CASE PROSECUTED IN CALIFORNIA?

A California prosecutor usually prosecutes a DUID case with predominantly circumstantial evidence. The arresting police officer will probably testify regarding the suspect’s driving behavior and appearance. If a field sobriety test was conducted by the officer, that result can be entered as evidence. Video evidence and eyewitness statements may also be introduced.

If a blood or urine test is administered after a DUID suspect’s arrest, those results too can be introduced as evidence, but in California DUID prosecutions, the testimony of a DRE – a police officer specifically trained as a drug recognition expert – is usually the key evidence presented against a DUID suspect.

When a California police officer stops a driver in traffic and suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs, the officer may summon a DRE – a drug recognition expert – to the site of the traffic stop. If the DRE concludes that a driver is under the influence of drugs, that driver will be placed under arrest, charged with DUID, and probably subjected to additional testing.

HOW CAN AN EXPERIENCED DUI ATTORNEY HELP?

At a DUID trial, if a drug recognition expert testifies for the state that a DUID suspect displayed the physical signs of impairment – which might include dehydration, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, an accelerated pulse rate, and short-term memory loss – a conviction is likely. Only an experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to cast doubt on a trained DRE’s expert testimony.

That’s important, because drug recognition experts can make mistakes. A motorist may appear impaired for a variety of reasons: fatigue, sickness, too much bright light, or even simply being lost at night can make a driver’s behavior appear erratic. It is imperative – if you are charged with DUID on the basis of a DRE’s evaluation – to contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible.

What must the state prove to convict a DUID suspect? Simply that the suspect was in fact – and beyond a reasonable doubt – driving while under the influence of drugs. When the evidence against a DUID suspect is entirely circumstantial, an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney will probably recommend disputing the charge and pleading not guilty – but every case is different.

When the evidence against a DUID suspect is overwhelming and conclusive – for example, if the state can introduce a blood test that shows narcotics in the driver’s blood, or if the state can provide clear video evidence of erratic, reckless driving – that driver will still need an attorney to help negotiate a plea bargain and to advocate for reduced or alternative sentencing.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DUID CONVICTION?

A first DUID offense will almost always be charged as a misdemeanor unless aggravating circumstances are present. Upon conviction, a first-time DUID offender will face a fine of up to $1,000, more than $2,600 in penalty assessments, up to six months in jail, a six-month driver’s license suspension, up to five years on probation, and mandatory DUI school or drug treatment.

However, when a DUID arrest is tied to aggravating circumstances – the defendant had a child as a passenger, for example, or was observed driving recklessly – that defendant will face harsher penalties if convicted. DUID defendants are also looking at harsher penalties if they have any prior convictions, especially for DUI or DUID.

Convictions for second and third DUID offenses are punished more severely. One key difference between a DUI and a DUID charge is that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not automatically suspend a driver’s license for a DUID charge unless the driver declined to be tested or tested over the legal limit for alcohol (along with being under a drug’s influence).

CAN A DUID OFFENDER GET A RESTRICTED DRIVER’S LICENSE?

However, if someone is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, that person’s driver’s license will usually be suspended for up to six months, but a DUI attorney may be able to help an offender acquire a restricted license that allows limited driving only for work, school, legal obligations, and medical appointments.

In DUID cases, California’s prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver was impaired by drugs. Chemical urine and blood tests can be wrong, and so can a DRE’s opinion. However, a DUID defendant must be represented by an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney who will fight aggressively to bring the case to its best possible conclusion.

 

Todd Landgren on Google