Legal Drug Use & DUI


Legal Drug Use & DUI

November 13, 2014

Torrance drug defense attorneyMost people who automatically associate alcohol with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge also recognize a person can be cited for DUI involving illegal drugs, but many are unaware that California DUI laws do not distinguish between illegal and legal drugs when it comes to DUI. And, as a Torrance drug defense attorney can explain, the fact that the drugs may have been legally prescribed to the driver is not a valid defense.

Definition of a Drug

For purposes of the laws regarding DUI in California, a drug is defined as any type of substance other than alcohol that may have an effect on an individual’s nervous system, brain or muscles. A driver may be found guilty of DUI if they were under the influence of a drug or a combination of drugs to the extent their ability to drive was impaired.


Determining a person is impaired by drugs is different than detecting alcohol use. With drugs, there is no telltale odor and no breath test that is able to reveal drug ingestion. Additionally, there is no legal standard for determining impairment as a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent does with alcohol.

When a police officer detains a driver suspected of drug impairment, a roadside investigation by a drug recognition expert (DRE) is often conducted. A DRE is specially trained to recognize drug impairment and its effects. If arrested, a blood or urine sample will be taken to confirm and identify the exact substance.


The legal issues involved in a DUI case based on legal drugs are more complex than a standard DUI. First of all, there is limited scientific evidence that points to precise patterns or influences of drug use and driving. Secondly, often cases involve an interaction between two or more drugs or a drug combined with alcohol. It is important to have a skilled DUI lawyer on your side. 

Contact a Torrance Drug Defense Lawyer for Legal Advice

The consequences of a DUI are steep with a mandatory license suspension, heavy fines, DUI school and possibly jail depending on the circumstances. Explore your options. Call El bufete de abogados Mattern at 888-420-8932.

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