By the third quarter of 2021, there were an estimated 284 million vehicles driving about throughout the United States with 228.2 million licensed drivers. The United States has some of the highest levels of road traffic when compared to other similar developed nations. In terms of states, California has the most licensed drivers. Because of this heavy road traffic, the US also reports more frequent vehicular accidents than its counterparts.
There are many ways a car accident can happen, but speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving are some of the most common causes reported. A common misconception is that illegal drunk driving incidents only happen when a driver has alcohol in their system. While driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more is illegal and a frequent occurrence, there are other situations that also constitute driving under the influence.
Can You be Arrested for Driving With Prescription Drugs in Your System?
California drunk driving laws indicate that driving with more than a certain level of alcohol in the system is unlawful, but so is driving with drugs in the system. This is true for illicit substances, over-the-counter medicines, and those that come from a valid prescription.
If the drug or medication you are taking has impairing side effects, even if you only feel the symptoms are minimal, you should avoid driving until the drug is out of your system. If law enforcement pulls you over because they believe that you are driving unsafely or erratically, consistent with someone who is under the influence, they could arrest you if they find you ingested certain medicines.
For example, for nighttime cold medicine, the warning label will often indicate drowsiness is a side effect. Drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous; there are many issues a drowsy driver has operating their automobile that drunk drivers also have. Slower reaction time, inability to stay focused, and struggling to stay awake are just a few.
Another example is if you suffer from chronic pain, your doctor may have provided you with a prescription for narcotics to manage that pain. It is legal to take narcotics that were prescribed to you. But, if the narcotics cause you to feel dizzy, sleepy, affect your vision, or cause other side effects, you are putting both yourself and others in danger of injury or death when you get behind the wheel.
If you have a prescription or over-the-counter drug in your system and you cause a crash or are arrested, the fact that the medicines you took were legal will not be a valid defense to a driving under the influence of a drug charge.
There are some aspects of your arrest that you may be able to use in your defense, however. A San Diego DUI defense attorney will know what aspects of your case can be challenged to give you the best chances of overcoming your charges.
Speak to a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The bottom line is that if you have anything in your system that is altering your perception and ability to function properly, it is a good idea to find alternate modes of transportation. After an arrest in California, call the San Diego criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje to schedule a free consultation at (619) 229-1870 for the San Diego office or (760) 476-0901 for the Carlsbad location.