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Anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax are the basis for many DUI arrests in and around Los Angeles. Most of the time, drugs like Xanax are legitimately prescribed by doctors for patients who suffer from anxiety disorders. The fact that a person is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and is prescribed Xanax or a similar drug certainly doesn’t make him or her a criminal, but if Xanax is used with other drugs or alcohol, that person shouldn’t be operating any type of a motor vehicle. The statues governing driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol are very clear.
Driving under the influence of drugs or drugs and alcohol
As per California Vehicle Code 25132(e), it’s “unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” If that person is under the combined influence of a drug and alcohol, California Vehicle Code 25132(f) makes it unlawful for any person “who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.” Cases charged through either of the above statutory sections are commonly known as DUID cases. The drugs can include prescription drugs like Xanax, street drugs or over-the-counter medications.
It doesn’t take much
As per California Criminal Jury Instruction 16.831, a person can be found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs when his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired to such an extent that they no longer have the ability to drive with the same level of due care and caution as a sober person of ordinary prudence would under the same or similar circumstances.
The usual and customary breathalyzer test won’t show anything if a driver is under the influence of drugs without having consumed any alcohol. If he or she has consumed alcohol with drugs, the breathalyzer result might be well under the legal limit. That’s when prosecutors want blood testing performed for purposes of backing up the arresting officer’s allegations. Unless a driver consents to that blood testing, a search warrant must be issued by a judge. If a driver fails to cooperate with having his or her blood drawn for testing after a search warrant is issued, additional charges will probably result.
The drug recognition expert
This individual is a law enforcement officer who is specifically trained in formulating an opinion on whether an individual is under the influence of legal or illegal drugs. The officer will examine a driver by using a 12 step evaluation process. This individual isn’t a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or even a registered nurse. He or she is a trained professional law enforcement witness. California law doesn’t require a person suspected of a DUID to submit to any testing by such an “expert.” If you submit to that evaluation, you might only be giving the prosecution the evidence that it needs to convict you on a DUID with. You might want to refuse any contact with that drug recognition “expert.”
You’ll want to speak with a Los Angeles DUID attorney from our office as soon as possible after your arrest. Far more defenses are available in a DUID case than in a typical DUI case. Those might include exhaustion, allergies, or other physical and mental disabilities.
Contact us right away after any DUI or DUID arrest anywhere in or around Los Angeles. Just ask to speak with one of our Los Angeles DUI attorneys, and we’ll be pleased to provide you with a free consultation and case evaluation and advise you of your options.