New laws addressing drugged driving may be coming to California

Drunk-driving laws change in California quite frequently. This often leads to increased penalties for those who are convicted, as well as additional punishments for those who are repeat offenders. Motorists know that law enforcement takes this crime very seriously, and also know that police will be patrolling areas where drunk driving is believed to be occurring.

In California, there are very clear laws for driving under the influence of alcohol. If an individual is driving and has a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or above, he or she could be charged with DUI. However, there has been a growing increase in the number of individuals driving under the influence of drugs, and the laws that address this issue are not as clear in the state.

Under current California law, there are no specific limits in place that state when an individual is too impaired by a certain drug to operate a motor vehicle. Motorists may still be charged with drugged driving, but those cases would proceed under the normal DUI statutes. In order for a person to be convicted of drugged driving, it would need to be shown that the individual's driving ability was impaired due to the drugs that he or she had taken.

A bill has been proposed that would establish limits for certain drugs, and result in drugged driving charges if the individual was found to have drugs in their system that exceed those limits. These levels would apply for illegal drugs, as well as prescription medications that a motorist may be taking.

These changes could increase the number of individuals facing drugged driving charges. If a law enforcement officer makes a traffic stop and suspects an individual is driving under the influence of drugs, the officer will call a specially-trained drug enforcement expert (DRE) to begin preliminary tests.

If the DRE feels the motorist has failed these tests, he or she may order the driver to subject to a blood test which will show the amount of drugs present in the motorist's system. This discretion means that many individuals are often forced to submit to these tests in order to determine levels of impairment.

Motorists who are facing DUI charges need to present a strong defense to these accusations to protect themselves from the harsh consequences that can arise after a conviction. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand the options that are available.

If you are stopped by police, remember that anything that you say may be used against you at a later point in time. The more that you discuss about the events that happened prior to the traffic stop, the more evidence that police may use to show that you are impaired. Do not talk to police without having an attorney present.