Defending Our Clients from Criminal Penalties

When most people think of driving under the influence, they picture illicit drugs or alcohol involvement. However, California drivers can be charged with a DUI even if the medication they have taken is entirely legal and prescribed by a doctor. A prescription drug DUI carries the same penalties as a DUI from alcohol or illicit substances and can cause consequences like jail time, fines, and a license suspension.

Prescription drug DUIs are often charged as misdemeanors, but DUIs that cause bodily injury or death have the potential to be charged as felonies. Felony DUI charges are more severe and carry more significant penalties that can impact you for the rest of your life.

While prescription drug DUI charges are serious, everyone has the right to consult legal counsel. Our experienced team at the DUI Defense Group has helped many happy clients reduce or remove the penalties they are facing due to prescription drug DUIs. If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t leave your future up to chance. Call our office today at 866-927-3295 to receive a free consultation.

What is the Definition of a DUI?

Under the California Vehicle Code, DUIs typically stem from individuals having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08%. However, two sections are directly related to prescription drugs. The code states that it is illegal for any person under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. The code also states that it is illegal for any person under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to drive a vehicle.

Driving under the influence of drugs doesn’t mean that you can’t have any prescription drugs in your body while driving. However, if you knowingly take a prescription medication that causes impairment, like dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, or blurred vision, you can be charged with a DUI. It is unlawful for anyone to operate a motor vehicle if they are unable to drive safely, which includes being under the influence of certain prescription medications.

What Counts as a Drug in California?

In California, the definition of a drug is relatively broad. A drug is defined as a substance other than alcohol that could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles. A drug would also impair a person’s ability to drive as they usually would in full possession of their facilities.

The definition of drugs includes prescription medication, over-the-counter sleep aids, and illegal narcotics. Below are the most common drugs that lead to DUI charges:

  • Prescription marijuana
  • Over-the-counter sleeping pills
  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Cough medicine
  • Antihistamines
  • Vicodin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine

If a substance causes fainting, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, diminished coordination, blurred vision, or the inability to pay attention, it is very likely that it could lead to a DUI conviction. Different drugs affect everyone differently, and even the recommended dosage of prescription medication you take could impact your ability to drive safely.

Our team has a working knowledge of these common prescription and over-the-counter drugs, plus how they interact with each other and with alcohol. Knowledge like this could help build your defense strategy, so give our team a call today for more information.

What Are the Potential Penalties for a Prescription Drug DUI?

The potential penalties for a prescription DUI depend on whether your charges are a felony or a misdemeanor. In most cases, your prescription DUI will be classified as a misdemeanor. However, if you have a prior conviction for a felony DUI, if this is your fourth or subsequent offense, or if your DUI led to severe injury or death, you could be charged with a felony.

A first-offense misdemeanor DUI carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of a few thousand dollars. You will likely be required to complete a three-month drug education class, and your license will be suspended for six months. Most first-time offenders do not do jail time unless there are extenuating circumstances.

A second-offense DUI carries penalties of fines and up to one year in county jail. Your license will be suspended for two years, and you could face up to 30 months of drug education classes.
For a third-offense DUI, you could face mandatory fines plus up to one year in jail. Your license will be suspended for three years, and you will be required to complete up to 30 months of drug education classes.

For a felony DUI, you could face between 16 months and four years in state prison. You will also face a maximum fine of $5,000 plus a driver’s license revocation for at least one year.

Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?

A prescription drug DUI conviction on your record can have lasting implications on your life. Even first-time offenders could face jail time, fines, and mandatory DUI school. If you would like to retain your freedom and your driving privileges, hiring an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys is your next step.

Our attorneys at the DUI Defense Group will spend time learning about the facts of your case before developing a solid legal defense strategy. In most DUI cases, we can either challenge the validity of the traffic stop or the validity of the chemical test used to determine impairment. If either one of these pieces of evidence is faulty, your case may have grounds for dismissal.
Our team focuses solely on cases involving DUIs, so we are confident that we can help reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. For more information about our services and to receive a free consultation, contact our law firm today by calling 866-927-3295.