San Diego DUI Law Center

DUI Drugs can be based on prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs in San Diego California

DUI Drugs

Vehicle Code § 23152(e) makes it illegal to drive under the influence of any drug

In San Diego California, you may be prosecuted for DUI Drugs if the prosecuting attorney can establish you were under the influence of (a) prescribed drugs, (b) over-the-counter drugs, or (c) illegal drugs.  The key is the lawyer for the prosecuting county or city agency must be able to prove the drug(s) affected the ability of you to drive such that it made you drive “under the influence of a drug.”


California Criminal Jury Instruction Number 2110, Driving Under the Influence (Vehicle Code, § 23152(a)/(e)) states:

A person is under the influence if, as a result of (drinking [or consuming] an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] taking a drug), his or her 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 manner in which a person drives is not enough by itself to establish whether the person is or is not under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]. However, it is a factor to be considered, in light of all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether the person was under the influence.


The criminal consequences and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are similar to DUI alcohol-only except that you may not be eligible for a restricted license if drugs are involved and you are so convicted.

Actually convicting someone of this law may be difficult.  A San Diego DUI Attorney Specialist should be able to help to try avoid such a conviction.

Prosecuting lawyers in San Diego California must prove the drug actually causes a significant or sufficient level of mental or physical impairment at the time of driving.

Similarly, your San Diego DUI criminal defense attorney may attempt to establish the drug did not actually impair your driving.

Sometimes it is impossible for the prosecuting DUI attorney to prove driving impairment based upon only drugs. This is not necessarily the case when the proof includes the combination of alcohol with a drug.  The statute says alcohol and/or drugs.

Believe it or not, many drugs actually enhance one’s ability to drive.  Depending on the case, scientific evidence may be in the driver’s favor.  The DUI Attorney Prosecutor attempts to prove the drive was under the influence of drug(s) by eliciting evidence relative to driving patterns, vague physical signs and ambiguous symptoms, questionable field sobriety testing performance and obviously chemical tests.

California DUI prosecutors have gone so far as to file DUI – drug charges against someone based solely on caffeine, apparently based on the notion that  California’s Vehicle Code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree” his ability to drive normally.

Generally, synthetic marijuana, performance enhancing drugs, like steroids, and designer stimulants, like bath salts, are rarely tested for in a DUI blood test.



It’s a defense to a San Diego California DUI charge if the subject drug causes one to drive with the same caution characteristic of a sober person or ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstance.

It’s also a defense if the alleged driving pattern, alleged physical signs and symptoms, alleged field sobriety testing performance and purported chemical tests are equally consistent with non-impairment as they are consistent with impairment.


Ask the Judge if the Judge drinks coffee during the day, then ask the court for disqualification based upon intoxication.

Ask the police officer about drinking coffee on duty.

Ask the officer about the actual alcohol limitations for a officer on duty (.05% BAC).

Ask the officer about police policies & procedures regarding various substances while on duty or before going on duty; then add coffee.

Ask the jurors if they drink coffee or tea – you may want these folks as your jurors.


If charged with DUI prescription medication, sleep driving may be a defense advanced by one’s San Diego DUI attorney.  The involuntary intoxication is normally based on an unanticipated reaction to medication taken per the lawful prescription and usually when the person did not make a deliberate choice to engage in the charged San Diego California DUI – Drugs activity, i.e. the driving was non-volitional.

Sleep driving folks usually are not aware that they are actually driving.  They may take ambien, fall asleep or go to bed, and remember waking up in San Diego County Jail.  Essentially, these folks have virtually no clue where they were.  The attorney should suggest finding the witnesses who can testify the person was clearly out of it when seen.

Often the keys in these DUI – Drugs sleep driving cases boils down to the DUI attorney demonstrating that:  (a) the person did voluntarily take the drug (e.g. ambien) but (b) all the things that happened after taking the drug were unconsciously done.

Depending on the facts, a California DUI Lawyer Specialist will be able to determine what best defense can be fairly asserted.