DUID: Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

In California, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) or controlled substances is an offense, whether the drug in question is legal or illegal.

What Is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?

DUID is a legal term referring to using or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

Drugs here refer to non-alcoholic substances that can impair a person’s ability to drive. These include both recreational or prohibited drugs and legal drugs, such as over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medicine.


What Is the Law About DUIDs?

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152, you are considered to have committed a DUID law infraction if you drive while you’re under the influence of any type of drug, the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, or if you’re addicted to any drug and not engaging in any state-approved narcotic treatment program.

California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 HSC: Possession of a Controlled Substance

The possession of a controlled substance under California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC is one of the most commonly charged drug crimes.

Anyone is subject to this law for possessing even what may be considered a very small amount of drugs. Conviction typically results in severe driving under the influence of drugs penalties, including imprisonment.

For a defendant to be found guilty of possessing a controlled substance, the following elements must be proven:

  • Unlawful possession of a controlled substance
  • Knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance
  • Knowledge of the nature or character of the controlled substance in question
  • Usable amount of the controlled substance in question

Drugs that are considered controlled substances according to the California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC include cocaine, heroin, opiates, peyote, LSD and other hallucinogens, and prescription painkillers without a valid prescription.

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Measuring Drug Impairment

Unlike blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurements that are pretty straightforward and consistent in their interpretation, drug impairment in motorists is much harder to establish.

The reason for this is that there are no large-scale evidence-based national standards for drug impairment. Moreover, various drugs have different effects on the human body and do not interact uniformly with different users.

A common example is how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, can be detected in a person’s urine or bloodstream for as long as four or five weeks after intake. This makes it difficult to establish the user’s actual impairment during the infraction with certainty.

Meanwhile, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or acid is usually undetectable in routine urine tests and may be detected in blood samples less than 24 hours after intake, depending on the amount taken and the user’s age, body composition and rate of metabolism.

But in the absence of better drugged driving test alternatives, urinalysis or taking blood samples remain the standard for measuring the presence of drugs. A third though less commonly utilized method is the hair follicle drug test, which is useful in establishing past drug use.

The Effects of Various Illegal Drugs

Different illegal drugs are subject to different codes or laws in the state of California.


With the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act regulating commercial cannabis activity in California, the consumption of marijuana by adults 21 and above is now widely accepted, subject to certain regulations.

However, there are also limitations to smoking and possessing marijuana, even for people more than 21 years old. These limitations include smoking or ingesting marijuana while driving and having an open container of marijuana in one’s possession while driving or riding on a vehicle.


California cocaine laws provide for special drug courts and non-violent drug crime defendants the option to receive treatment in exchange for supervised probation.


The California Health and Safety Code Section 11377 HSC encompasses methamphetamine possession, making it illegal to possess methamphetamine, GHB, ketamine and other specific anabolic steroids.

Morphine & Heroin

When it comes to morphine, under the California Health and Safety Code Section 11350, the one caught committing such an act is to be charged with a misdemeanor for possessing morphine without a prescription. According to the same law, the possession of heroin is classified as a felony.


Possession of LSD for personal use is considered a misdemeanor in California. However, LSD use in a DUID charge is subject to the same procedure as any DUI or DUID offense.

Misdemeanor Charges

A DUID charge is typically treated as a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for DUID are the same as for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The penalties for DUID (and DUI) include the following:

  • DUI probation of 3 to 5 years
  • Around $1,800 fine for the first offense
  • Enrolment in a California DUI school
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Possible jail time

Felony Charges

There may be cases when a DUID (and DUI) can be charged as a felony. This usually happens when:

  • The defendant is a repeat DUID or DUI offender.
  • The defendant was previously convicted of a felony DUI charge.
  • The DUID event resulted in the injury of a third party.

A felony DUID conviction can lead to:

  • Maximum of three years in jail (4 years if a third party was injured); and/or
  • Maximum fine of $1,000 (or a maximum of $5,000 if someone was injured)

Penalties for DUID

California drugged driving penalties vary based on the stage or frequency of the offense. Repeat offenders are typically meted harsher punishments.

First Offense

The convicted first-time offender may be jailed for a maximum of six months and pay a minimum fine of $390 to as much as $1,000. They could also have their driver’s license suspended for six months. They could also be offered probation in lieu of jail time and be required to complete a DUI program.

Second Offense

A second offense could lead to a jail sentence of 90 days to one year, a minimum $390 fine, two-year driver’s license suspension and compulsory completion of a DUI program.

Third Offense

The third time offender may be subjected to a jail sentence of 120 days to one year, a minimum $390 fine, three-year driver’s license suspension, ignition interlock device requirement, designation as a habitual traffic offender for three years after conviction, and at least 30 months of participation in a DUI program.

Fourth Offense

A fourth or subsequent DUID/DUI offense within 10 years will subject the repeat offender to felony penalties. These include 16 months, two years, or three years in jail, or 180 days to one year in jail. Plus, there’ll be a minimum $390 fine under the California Vehicle Code Section 23550. The offender will also be subjected to a four-year driver’s license revocation and designation as a habitual traffic offender for three years after their conviction.

Defending a DUID Charge

For the accused to be convicted of a DUID charge, the following three conditions must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused drove a motor vehicle;
  • Under the influence of a drug or while addicted to a drug;
  • Which consequently led to their driving being impaired

There are other possible defenses to a DUID charge, such as the officer lacking any probable cause for stopping the traffic, having no reasonable suspicion to make an arrest, improper or illegal procedures during the arrest, etc.

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Protect Your Rights With Ezquerro – Your Dedicated Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are the subject of DUID criminal charges in California, we can defend you. Please reach out to Ezquerro for professional DUID legal expertise.

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