DUI DRUGS DEFENSE ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is a crime in Orange County, and facing charges for any criminal offense can be confusing and scary, especially if a conviction carries a county jail or state prison sentence. However, in many cases of DUI with drugs charges, a skilled criminal defense attorney can get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether, especially for a first or second offense. At Seyb Law Group, we believe in protecting the rights of the accused in Orange County and the surrounding counties and our reputation for aggressively representing our clients in court is what sets us apart from other criminal defense law firms in Southern California. Our lawyers have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we have helped thousands of Orange County residents defend themselves against DUI charges. If you or a loved one has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence of drugs in Orange County, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Consult our experienced DUI defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today.
Affordable Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer
One of the most important decisions you will make after being arrested on DUI drug charges in Orange County is hiring an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney to represent your case. You want an attorney on your side who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions and who will analyze every detail of your case, present a strong defense in court and successfully challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. At Seyb Law Group, our primary goal is to help you get the best possible outcome in your DUI drugs case and that means personally handling each and every aspect of your defense. When you hire Seyb Law Group, you work directly with a reputable and knowledgeable Orange County criminal defense lawyer whose experience handling driving under the influence cases speaks for itself. Contact our legal team today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Most people think of a DUI as driving under the influence of alcohol, but you can also be charged with DUI if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). The main difference between DUID and DUI alcohol is that there is no legal “limit” for drugs that corresponds to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for alcohol consumption. This is because, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, “[A]t the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with effects on driver performance.” For the purposes of Orange County DUI laws, a “drug” is defined as:
“a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.”
This can include legal drugs, like marijuana, illegal drugs, like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications, like cold medicines and antihistamines.
California DUI Vehicle Code § 23152 (f) VC, § 23152 (g) VC, § 23152 (c) VC
The two main laws that set forth the standards for driving under the influence of drugs in Orange County are California Vehicle Code § 23152 (f) VC, which makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug – whether illegal, over-the-counter or prescription – and Vehicle Code § 23152 (g) VC, which makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any combination of a drug and alcohol. Any medications that affect a person’s brain, nervous system or muscles can be implicated in an Orange County DUI drug offense, even if the medication is something the driver takes every day for his or her health. In addition to these laws, Vehicle Code § 23152 (c) VC makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while addicted to any drug.
Penalties for a DUI Drugs Conviction in Orange County
In most cases, Orange County driving under the influence of drugs is a misdemeanor offense and the penalties associated with this crime are similar to those for misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol. However, drivers who test positive for illegal narcotics or who have drugs or drug paraphernalia in their vehicle or on their person may also be charged with a crime under California Health and Safety Code 11550, being under the influence of a controlled substance, Health and Safety Code 11350, possession of a controlled substance, or Health and Safety Code 11364, possession of drug paraphernalia, offenses that carry their own penalties.
The penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DUI drugs conviction in Orange County can include:
- A minimum fine of $390, plus additional penalties and assessments
- Three to five years informal probation,
- Three months of mandatory DUI school, and/or
- A six-month driver’s license suspension.
Without causing injury to a third party, most convictions for a first DUID offense in Orange County do not include jail time. However, under Orange County law, DUID can also be charged as a felony offense, typically if the DUI caused injury to another person other than the defendant, if the new offense is the defendant’s fourth or subsequent DUI offense, or if the defendant has even one prior felony DUI conviction on his or her record.
The penalties for a felony DUI drugs conviction in Orange County can include:
- Up to three years in jail (or up to four years if someone was injured as a result of the DUID),
- A driver’s license suspension or revocation for at least one year, and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000 (or up to $5,000 if someone was injured).
Drug Impairment Evaluation
Similar to a DUI arrest, a DUI drugs arrest typically begins with a traffic stop. The Orange County police have the power to pull you over if you appear to be impaired and will then begin a DUI investigation, asking you questions about your drinking and/or drug use, looking for physical symptoms of drug use and looking for any drugs or drug paraphernalia within sight inside the vehicle. The officer may ask you to take a roadside breathalyzer test to measure your BAC, and/or may ask you to perform one or more Field Sobriety Tests to determine your level of intoxication, if any.
If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI in Orange County and your BAC is below the legal limit, but you still appear intoxicated, the officer may assume that you have been using drugs. He may then ask you to submit to a mouth swab test to determine if there are drugs in your system, or he may call in a drug recognition expert (DRE) to evaluate you. A DRE is a law enforcement officer with special training, and if the officer calls a DRE, the DRE will take over the DUI investigation upon arriving at the scene and may conduct a drug impairment evaluation, which includes the following components:
- Interviewing the officer who pulled you over,
- Confirming that your BAC is not indicative of alcohol impairment,
- Asking you about your drug use and observing your behavior,
- Checking for physical symptoms of drug use (including pulse rate, pupil size, track marks, muscle tone, and/or traces of drugs in the mouth or nostrils),
- Conducting an eye “tracking exam” to check for any indication of drug consumption
- Re-administering Field Sobriety Tests, and/or
- Asking you to submit to a DUI blood and/or urine test.
What to do After a DUI Drugs Arrest
Even if you are suspected of DUI drugs in Orange County, you still have rights and it is important to be aware of these rights. For instance, no matter what the officer says, you do not have to answer the DRE’s questions during the drug impairment evaluation, nor do you have to agree to submit to any Field Sobriety Tests. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from being forced to incriminate yourself and until you are officially under arrest, you can also refuse a chemical test without facing any consequences, unless you are under 21 or currently on DUI probation.
However, once the officer believes there is probable cause for a DUID arrest, he can take you into custody, and at this point, you will probably be given the choice of taking either a DUI breath test or blood test. The police cannot forcibly take a blood test without your consent unless they have a warrant. At this time, you cannot legally refuse the test without facing legal consequences, including an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. If the DUI blood test comes back positive, the prosecutor in your DUID case can use the results to show that drugs were present in your system, how much of the drugs were present, and in some cases, when you may have taken the drug.
Orange County DUI with Drugs Defense
Being arrested for an Orange County DUID may seem like the end of the world, but just because you have been arrested doesn’t mean you will be convicted. Any time you are charged with a crime, you have the right to defend yourself against the charges and you also have a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney during trial. A skilled Orange County criminal defense attorney with experience defending DUID cases will have a clear understanding of your rights under the law and will know how to use the facts of your case to build a strong defense to present at trial.
Best Defense Strategies in Orange County DUI Drugs Cases
There are a number of defense strategies that can be applied to any DUI charges in Orange County, including driving under the influence of drugs, and there are also defenses that are specific to fighting DUID charges. Some possible defense strategies that may be used in your Orange County DUI drugs case include the following:
- There was no probable cause for initiating the traffic stop or DUI investigation
- You were not advised of your Miranda rights before being interrogated by police
- The police failed to follow protocol in collecting, storing and/or analyzing evidence relating to your breath, blood or urine test
- You were not “under the influence” of drugs
- The signs of intoxication the officer observed were due to another cause (fatigue, illness, anxiety, allergies, etc.)
- Your failure to successfully complete a Field Sobriety Test was due to another cause (inner ear disorder, uncomfortable footwear, etc.)
- The chemical test results were inaccurate
How Hiring a DUI Defense Attorney Can Help
There are plenty of opportunities for an experienced DUI defense attorney to poke holes in the prosecution’s case or argue the existence of reasonable doubt. For instance, even a positive DUI blood test result is not considered irrefutable proof of drug impairment, and this means the prosecution will likely rely heavily on the testimony of expert witnesses and the observations of the arresting officer and DRE, if any, all of which is subjective. Furthermore, just because you are found to have drugs in your system does not necessarily mean you were driving “under the influence” of drugs, which is a key component of the prosecution’s case against you. By hiring a knowledgeable Orange County DUI defense attorney to represent you at trial, you can ensure that the most effective strategies are employed in your defense.
Contact Our Experienced DUI Defense Lawyers Today
When you are facing charges for a crime like DUI with drugs, choosing the right Orange County criminal defense attorney to represent your case can mean the difference between walking away with your freedom and spending time in county jail or state prison. Most first DUI drug offenses don’t carry exceptionally harsh penalties, but there are certain so-called “aggravating factors” that can elevate an Orange County DUI with drugs offense from a misdemeanor to a felony, including a DUI with injury or having previous DUI convictions on your record. Don’t let a DUI with drugs conviction ruin your reputation or put your freedom and your future at risk. The best way to protect yourself against DUI drug charges in Orange County is to enlist the help of a qualified Orange County defense attorney who has a proven record of success defending DUID cases. Contact our DUI defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group today for a free initial consultation.