In California and throughout the nation, it is illegal to drive under the influence of a drug. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the consequences of a "drug DUI." Understanding the possible consequences of driving under the influence may help you avoid criminal charges and other undesirable repercussions of getting behind the wheel while medicated at illegal levels or while under the influence of illegal drugs.
Whether the substance is an illegal drug, a legal prescription, or nonprescription medication, driving illegally under the influence of these substances has the potential to do harm to you and to others.
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't get behind the wheel if you have taken medicine or other substances that can cause sleepiness, disorientation, impaired judgment or motor skills, reduced reaction time or inattentiveness. Whether the substance is a controlled substance or a legally obtained medication, driving under the influence of either may result in a drug DUI conviction.
Furthermore, if a drugged driver causes an automotive accident that results in the injury or death of another motorist, he or she could face a civil lawsuit as well as potential criminal charges for causing the accident. This means that, in addition to facing a possible fine, jail time, and a suspended license, drivers may have to provide financial compensation to the victim or victims of the accident for the injuries they sustained.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that "in 2007, approximately one in eight weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs." Ironically, some of these drivers may not have known that they were doing anything illegal. Many people are not aware that being under the influence of their doctor-prescribed medication can have adversarial effects on their ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Any kind of DUI conviction is a serious offense that carries long-term consequences for the driver and their family. If you are ever pulled over as a result of suspicion of driving under the influence, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you understand your rights in this situation. An attorney with experience representing individuals who have been accused of driving under the influence will be able to provide you with the legal defense you are entitled to.