DUI with Drugs

Sebastopol Man Arrested on Charges of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (CA Vehicle Code 23152(a))

A 22-year-old man from Sebastopol was recently arrested on charges of driving under the influence of drugs, methamphetamines, driving without a license, and other charges after being pulled over near Bohemian Highway.  His explanation as to why he was driving erratically is that he was on his way to see Santa Claus at the North Pole.  Allegedly, the man also resisted arrest and had to be cleared by medical officials before his detainment.

Although most commonly referred to as a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), there is another term for driving while under the specific influence of drugs – a DUID (CA Vehicle Code 23152(a)).  California law draws a distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs.  A ‘drug’ is thus defined as a substance other than alcohol that would prevent you from driving like any other person under normal conditions.  This includes any kind of drug, whether it be an over the counter (OTC) substance, an illegal drug, or a prescription medication.

Penalties for violation of this law (even if it is a first offense) are harsh.  Fines can reach $1,800 and you could spend up to 5 years in state prison, though this often depends on your prior record being taken into account.  Additionally, your driver’s license will likely be suspended and you will have to complete a course at a state-approved DUI school.   These are just typical penalties; however, the consequences can become even direr if your arrest constitutes a second or third offense.

 

Woman Accused in Bay Bridge DUI Incident (CA Vehicle Code 23153)

Most people in the Bay area will recall that the Bay Bridge was backed up for hours due to a wrong-way wreck in the eastbound lane.  A 32-year-old woman has been accused of driving under the influence of drugs and ending up travelling in the incorrect lane, headed the wrong way against the grain of traffic.  Though the accident on the bridge caused traffic to grind to a halt for about 2 hours, there were only minor injuries reported in the incident.  The woman (whose name has been omitted for reasons of privacy) was arrested on charges of driving without a license and a DUI causing injury.

CA Vehicle Code 23153 addresses a DUI with injury – injury that has occurred for the reason that an individual has been operating their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Prosecutors, in fact, must be able to prove that the use of drugs or alcohol was the actual cause of the accident that resulted in the injury of another person.  Punishment for this particular crime, however, widely varies depending on the particular circumstances of an individual case.  In other words, a violation of CA VC 23153 could be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  Misdemeanor DUI with injury penalties include informal probation for anywhere from 3 to 5 years, up to 1 year in county jail, a maximum of $5,000 in fines, participation in a state approved DUI school, license suspension for up to 3 years, and possible restitution to the persons that have been injured.  Felony DUI penalties are even more harsh; they can include up to 4 years in state prison plus another 1 year for each person injured (3 maximum), approximately $5,000 in fines, DUI school, 3-year HTO (Habitual Traffic Offender) status, and revocation of your license for a period of 5 years.

 

California DUID – Driving Under The Influence of Drugs (CA Vehicle Code 23152)

As authorities, law enforcement officials, and representatives of the DEA attempt to figure out ways to curtail ‘drugged’ driving in Colorado now that recreational marijuana has been made legal, Californians may be left wondering if there is such a law in their state.  In California, driving while under the influence of marijuana seems to be what cops are focusing on.  The problem with legislating any such law, or even having a rational discussion about it, is that determining whether or not someone is ‘high’ or simply has marijuana in their system is entirely subjective; there is no real objective test.

California law does not distinguish, in name, between a DUI and a so-called DUID (driving under the influence of drugs).  Both circumstances are covered under the (CA Vehicle Code 23152, parts “a” and “b.”  Part “b,” the portion that many people believe they have a handle on, is the one that states that a person could be arrested on DUI charges if it can be proven that they are above the legal .08 alcohol limit.  However, this section also covers illegal substances like marijuana.

Part “a,” however, is less well known by the average citizen.  While many folks believe that they can drink and drive as long as they do not drink to the point of a .08% level, that they cannot be arrested.  This is simply not true.  With either alcohol or drugs (and this means both legal and illegal), what officers are looking for is whether or not your driving is impaired as opposed to a ‘sober’ driver.  In other words, it’s entirely subjective.  While there is no legal limit for the amount of, for example, the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – active ingredient in marijuana ) that a person has in their bloodstream, if an officer simply smells marijuana in the vehicle, you could be arrested.  It remains to be seen what law enforcement officials in Colorado will come up with to determine levels, etc. for impaired driving.  In the meantime, Californians should remain in the know about DUI laws in their areas.

 

US Department of Justice to Allow States Medical and Recreational Marijuana

The Federal Government has finally made the first of what is sure to be many more steps toward legalizing recreational marijuana in the United States.  Thursday, August 28, 2013, the Justice Department made an announcement, they will not sue Washington state or Colorado in order to uphold the previous federal ban on marijuana in this country.  Critics have said that Attorney General Eric Holder, who commissioned an examination of then current marijuana policy last year, is going against 75 years of federal policy and, ostensibly, breaking the law (CA Health and Safety Code 11357). Of course, those folks are members of organizations like the Drug Enforcement Agency and it is certain that they are now worried about job security in the new climate.

What does this mean for residents of Washington and Colorado, and the rest of the country in general?  For one thing, anyone 21 years of age or older, whether they’re a resident or not, will be able to buy recreational marijuana in stores in Washington, most likely by early next year. Colorado is already better set for marijuana retail outlets, as their policy will allow current facilities to be converted to regular stores. There are, of course, a few caveats.

The federal guidelines require that retailers obtain a state license, not participate in other illegal activities or use the stores as a front for gang activity, remain a safe distance from schools and other places where children congregate, keep to certain regulations about advertising, keep it away from federal land, and not distribute to states where marijuana is still illegal.  Additionally, sales will be limited to “usable” product and infused items, and only in certain amounts.

Basically, the rules will be pretty much the same as they are for alcohol and tobacco.  You can still get a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana (CA Penal Code 23152(a)) (except now police will measure the nanograms of THC in your blood instead of the alcohol percentage), and there are provisions for just about everything else, from store locations to amounts that can be purchased by a single person in a single transaction.

All in all, however, this movement makes large strides toward legalization.  The catch?  There will be a 25% government tax on each phase of the process (grower to distributor, distributor to retail outlet, retail outlet to consumer).  For those who have been arguing for years that the federal government should legalize marijuana and then tax it, your wish has been granted.

 

Hit-And-Run in San Jose Ends with Death of Motorcyclist (CA Penal Code §191.5(b))

The yet unidentified driver of a Lexus attempted to flee the scene at the 1400 block of White Road before being caught by local law enforcement.  The incident also involved a motorcyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene.  To complicate matters, the driver of the Lexus was charged with not only vehicular manslaughter, but also driving under the influence and hit-and-run. 

At first glance, this case may seem cut and dry – most people would assume that if the driver of the Lexus was accused of a DUI, then they must have been at fault.  Yet, it is the consequences of CA Penal Code §191.5(b) (vehicular manslaughter & DUI) that must be questioned here.  This provision of the law states that an individual who is too impaired to drive must cause the unintended death of another person.

However, officials must be able to prove, first of all, that the driver was indeed impaired.  Just because the driver of the Lexus might have been drinking does not mean that they were too ‘drunk’ to drive.  Furthermore, there is often an assumption, both by the public and by the police, that an impaired driver is the cause of any accident.  This is often not the case and other forensic evidence should not be ignored.  For example, the driver of the Lexus may not be at fault at all – it is not yet known what the actual cause of the accident was.  In fact, the motorcyclist may have been at fault (he or she could have been speeding, could have suddenly crossed over into the Lexus’s lane, or have cut the Lexus off unexpectedly).  This is all to say that just because a traffic accident, even one this serious, occurs and one driver has had a few drinks, this does not necessarily mean that the supposedly ‘impaired’ driver was at fault.