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Receiving a DUI for Drugs and Other Substances

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When it comes to getting a DUI, many people associate them only with drinking alcohol. However, you can receive a DUI for other substances that can impair your driving as well. The process and circumstances surrounding these other substances varies slightly from alcohol related DUI, so it’s important to understand them.

Substances That Lead to a DUI

In California, a DUI can be given for any substance that affects your brain, muscles, or nervous system to the extent that it impairs your driving ability. One such substance is marijuana. It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in California, but there are some complexities associated with marijuana use in general and in relation to driving. You can also receive a DUI for all illegal drugs as well as a variety of legalized drugs. For example, you can receive a DUI for prescription medication taken at a higher dose than recommended. Additionally, there are some medications that impair your driving and you should not drive if you’ve recently taken them. 

Process of Getting a DUI

With alcohol, you will take a breathalyzer test in order to determine your blood alcohol concentration. However, with other substances it is more difficult to determine if you are under the influence. Instead of a breathalyzer, you will likely be submitted to a blood or urine test to determine what drugs and other substances are in your system and how much is in your system. To order these tests, an officer needs to establish probable cause for the tests. This can include your physical appearance and behavior as well as your driving ability and any incriminating statements you make. With marijuana, there are some special circumstances. A prosecutor will need to prove that you are under the influence of marijuana and that it is impairing your driving since not everyone will be severely affected by marijuana while driving. 


The defenses of a drug related DUI are very similar to the defense of an alcohol related DUI. Many of these defenses surround the circumstances of when you are pulled over. An officer will need to have probable cause in order to pull you over. For example, you can be pulled over for erratic driving. However, you could also claim that your “bad” driving is not the result of being under the influence. Finally, you could also use mistakes in the blood/breath/urine tests or mistakes in the sobriety test as reasons for a false DUI charge.    You can be charged with a DUI for more than just drinking alcohol. A DUI can cause serious repercussions in your life, so understanding them can help you better build your case to fight the charge.    Contact a criminal defense attorney to help with your case. 

Bradley Corbett

Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.

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