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DUI and Drugs


In an earlier blog I discussed the importance of considering a defendant's tolerance to medication when he or she is facing a prosecution for DUI based on being under the influence of drugs. Even with a medication that could impair a person's ability to drive to an appreciable degree, if the defendant has been taking the prescribed medication for a long period of time, his or her tolerance to the medication may mean that the defendant was not in fact impaired at the time of driving.

It should be noted that going down this path of discussing a defendant's long term use of a medication with a prosecutor in pre-trial negotiations, or in front of a jury, carries with it a potential pitfall. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(c), a person may be convicted of a misdemeanor if that person drives a vehicle at at time when he or she was addicted to a drug, unless the defendant is participating in a narcotic treatment program. In discussing a defendant's long term use of a drug and his or her tolerance, a prosecutor may try to amend a complaint to add a Vehicle Code 23152(c) allegation.

This does not require a prosecutor to prove that the defendant was actually impaired at the time of driving, but requires proof that the defendant was addicted to a drug at the time of driving. If a defendant has a long term tolerance to a drug, it may be argued that he or she is addicted to that drug and should not be driving for that reason. If you have been arrested for a DUI based on medication, please contact Gold & Witham.