Driving Under the Influence of drugs or Driving While Ability Impaired by drugs carry the same penalties and consequences as alcohol related driving charges. The definitions of “driving under the influence,” “driving while ability impaired,” “driving” and “motor vehicle” are also the same. There are, however, a few differences between alcohol-related and drug-related charges.
The most significant difference between alcohol and drug related charges is the legal presumptions that apply. The law has a per se DUI charge for alcohol-related driving offenses, which means if a person’s BAC is over 0.08, that person is deemed to be under the influence and no amount of evidence to the contrary can rebut or contradict that legal determination. This is not to say a DUI per se is not defensible. A DUI per se charge may be defended by attacking the validity of the test results. This is different than attempting to argue that a person was not under the influence even though the person’s BAC exceeded the legal limit.
For purposes of DUID and DWAID, however, there is no per se charge. This means the law does not set a level at which a person is deemed to be under the influence. In marijuana cases, the law does establish a presumption. If a person’s blood test shows a level of 5 nanograms or more of active THC, then the law presumes the person is under the influence. This presumption is rebuttable, which means evidence may be shown to argue the person was not under the influence even though the test results may show 5 nanograms or more of active THC. This rebuttable presumption is important in marijuana cases because chronic users have a higher tolerance than occasional users.
A driver can also be charged with DUID or DWAID for driving with prescription drugs in his or her system. Having a valid prescription does not provide an absolute defense, but may be of assistance if the drugs were being taken as prescribed by a medical doctor and the drugs did not warn against drowsiness. Much like marijuana, people become accustomed to certain drugs, so a level that might negatively impact one person may not have such an impact on another.
Drug-related DUI and DWAI charges are more complicated in many ways than alcohol-related charges. As a result, it is important to have a knowledgeable, experienced lawyer who can review and analyze your specific circumstances.
The consequences related to your driver’s license are also slightly different for a drug related offense. Because there is no per se drug level, DMV will not take immediate action against your license. You may, however, still be subject to license revocation. Whether your license is revoked is dependent upon the resolution of your case.