DOES CALIFORNIA HAVE LAWS THAT ADDRESS DRIVERS WITH A BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION LEVEL BELOW THE LEGAL LIMIT OF 0.08%? CAN YOU STILL BE CHARGED WITH A DUI?
Yes you can. That is particularly true for a non-commercial driver. If you have a 0.06% or 0.07%, you can still be charged. That can happen under both sections of the statute, the 0.08 statute or the general DUI statute. A person could come up with a breath test or blood test as 0.06% and the DA could charge you both, claiming, “Well, at the time they were driving, they were a 0.08%, but by the time the test was taken, they have come down to 0.06%.”
That is how the rationale for charging the 0.08% section of the statute works. However, if you have a 0.06% and you are driving erratically, you could be charged. It is not as common because you are driving pretty bad to be charged at a 0.06% with a DUI, but that also happens.
Generally, you can negotiate those cases down to a much lesser charge. One thing to note is that if you smoke marijuana and drive, it does not affect your driving at all. In fact, most of the studies show that people actually drive slower and a little bit more carefully and leave more room between their cars and the car in front of them when they are driving after smoking marijuana. The problem with marijuana is if you just have one or two drinks and smoke some marijuana, it can really exacerbate the situation. It seems to be a real synergistic effect of marijuana and alcohol. According to a study, that can impair you. So, be real careful if you are smoking marijuana – do not drink anything at all.
You can get stopped for driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination to the two. If the cop suspects that you are under the influence of even a prescription drugs, if you are under the influence of a prescription drug, marijuana or some other drug and alcohol, then they would make you take a blood test. They would request a blood test and not even offer you the breath test.
A lot of times, the cops will ask you if you have been taking any medications. You have to be careful about that because they are going to test specifically for that medication. If they smell any alcohol in the car or on you, they are going to test you for that. For example, if you have been using marijuana, they are going to test for marijuana. But if you are driving strictly on marijuana, it is a little tougher for them to find that you are impaired.
HOW OFTEN ARE CASES INVOLVING PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS SEEN?
They are common. Prescription drugs are usually seen in a combination of some alcohol. A lot of people are taking antidepressants; those are very common prescription drugs. Antidepressants do not mix well with alcohol.
There have been cases where the driver had a 0.02% blood alcohol level but was literally driving all over the road. People on the road were calling the police saying, “Get this guy off the road.” He hardly had any alcohol in his system at all, but he had some antidepressants in the system. The combination of the medication and alcohol really was a problem. These cases are pretty common.
Then there are people who take the drug by mistake, take the wrong prescription, thinking they are taking one prescription, but mistakenly take another and get stopped. Ambien is a good example that is not as common. That was common for a while but a lot of people are a little more careful about it now. There are all sorts of stories about people getting up and sleepwalking in the middle of the night, opening the refrigerator, the light comes on and, “What am I doing here?” They may be in their car and cannot figure it out.
The thing about drugs is it is a real problem for the prosecution because most of the government labs in California are not equipped to test for these drugs. They may be able to do a screening test for the drug but they are not really equipped to do a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the drug. They have to send it out to special labs, which cost a lot of money.
Most police officers will try to avoid doing that because it is so expensive to do so. They have to have an expert who is qualified to be able to tell what the effect of this might be on a person. It is not as easy as alcohol for them and a lot of their own experts are not really qualified to talk about it. They have to bring in someone else, so when there is a case like that, you generally have little room to negotiate with the DA on it because it is expensive and more of a problem for them to try than a normal DUI case.
Read about the Effects Of Using Marijuana Or Prescription Medicines In A DUI, or call The Law Office Of Blackie Burak for a FREE Case Evaluation at (925) 933-4500 and get the information and legal answers you're seeking.