DUID, “driving stoned,” and drugged driving are all different ways of describing the crime of driving under the influence of any drug. Section 23152(f) of the Vehicle Code states that the crime has fundamentally the same legal effect as driving under the influence of alcohol:
- It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
- It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
Regardless of the type of drug (prescription medication, marijuana, or an illegal drug controlled), California state law does not prohibit a certain amount of a given drug in a person’s system. The law solely prohibits a person from “driving under the influence” of a drug: the drugs must affect a driver so that their mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances — the same definition as for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Also, key differences exist when performing chemical testing for DUI drugs and DUI marijuana. When it comes to a DUI alcohol suspect, a standard breath test is given. This type of breath test does not analyze for the presence of marijuana or drugs. As such, testing for the presence of drugs must be conducted by blood test. A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) may be summoned in cases where drugs are involved, to examine the suspect. A DRE is able to testify to the signs, influence, and/or symptoms and of drugs or marijuana.
Note: Even if an individual is using marijuana or prescription drugs lawfully, a driver can still be charged with DUI if they are considered impaired when driving. This is the same case for DUI alcohol—alcohol can be consumed legally by individuals over the age of 21, yet if an individual is driving impaired, they can still be charged with DUI. See ‘‘How Legal Drug Use Can Lead to a DUI or DWI’’.
Currently, scientists are conducting research to determine the effects of driving under the influence of drugs. More studies must be completed before determining the following:
- Determine the degree of impairment (if any) of the quantity of drugs consumed.
- Identify the active life of the drugs in the blood
- Determine individual tolerance to drugs.