Arrested For Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs: What Happens Next?
This article covers what happens when you are pulled over for a potential DUI, including:
- What police are allowed to search, and how any drugs they find can be used against you
- whether or not you have to be actively using drugs to face a DUI charge/conviction
- The types of evidence required to convict you of a drug DUI charge
If I Was Arrested For DUI In Marin County, Are Police Allowed To Search My Vehicle For Inventory?
There are few events as stressful as being pulled over by the police, especially if there are drugs or the suspicion of drug use involved. One thing many drivers may not be aware of, and might worry about, is whether the police can and/or will search their car.
If you do get pulled over for a DUI and arrested for it in Marin County, or anywhere in the San Francisco Bay area or California, the police are allowed to look in areas of your car that they can see and do an inventory. If the police are going to have your car towed, they can check all over your car including in your trunk in order to make sure that any valuable items are recorded, and that there is nothing dangerous that could harm them or the person towing the car.
Why Are The Police Allowed To Search My Car After A DUI Arrest?
The right to search your vehicle after such an arrest is a long-established one. It has been built up by case law over the years notably by arguing that the police can (and should) do so to protect your property. It is also reinforced by the need to protect the person who is towing the car to the tow yard.
As a result, there will be an inventory and if something is missing, you are protected. Because it was recorded that it was there, it protects the police as well. Therefore that inventory check is absolutely within their rights to do.
How Thoroughly Will The Police Search My Car After A DUI Arrest?
Most of the time, what the police will do is simply take a quick look around and see what is there. They will rarely do a complete or thorough search of the car. This is particularly true if they are just parking the car for you where they pulled you over or moving it to a nearby safe place.
This is preferable if there is something in the car that you don’t want them to find (so try to avoid a tow in that case!). Even if you tell them “I don’t want you to search my car” they can and will get to do it in most circumstances, though then it might lead to a motions battle in court to get any eventual evidence dismissed.
What If The Police Find Drugs While Searching My Car After A DUI Arrest?
Obviously, if they do find drugs the DA’s office can file charges against you for those if they’re in your vehicle (possession, potentially even distribution depending on quantity and packaging).
However, if there was someone else in the car and, perhaps, they found the drugs under the passenger seat where your passenger was, that can make it easier to fight the charges. Even if you or the passenger don’t say anything about it, that position is more defensible as you can argue it was not near you but the other passenger.
While it is a stronger defense they still can and often do still try to pin that on the driver, especially if they are the owner of the car.
Can I Still Be Convicted For A Drug DUI In Marin County If I Wasn’t Actively Using While Driving?
Most people, while driving, are not actively using, or consuming, drugs. It is rare for anyone to be ingesting drugs by eating them, smoking them, or snorting them while they are driving.
It is even rarer, despite what Hollywood might have you believe, for cops to see that happening. It is rare even for DUI defense attorneys to see such a case, where someone got pulled over because they were using and officers saw them doing so while driving.
Typically, what happens is someone takes drugs before they drive, at some point that day, and thus while they are driving later they are doing so under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both. These are the majority of charges, and you can absolutely be convicted for doing so.
What Are The Key Elements Of A DUI Offense In Marin County And California?
The elements of an offense for A DUI, whether it is alcohol or drug related, are driving and either being at or over a 0.08 alcohol level while driving or being under the influence of drugs while driving or their combined influence.
There are different vehicle code sections in California that Marin County and other counties in the San Francisco Bay area and all over the state can use to charge you with a DUI. Different types of DUI offenses depend on what substance you are suspected of using, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, or both.
In most cases, a blood test for the drugs will be conducted and, depending on what they find, you will be charged accordingly. If the results indicate a concentration above a therapeutic level of a specific drug, then you will be charged with Driving Under the Influence of drugs.
Will A Blood Test Indicate The Approximate Date A Drug, Like Marijuana, Was Last Used?
Sometimes you can be below the therapeutic level and still get charged with a drug DUI. This is especially tricky with marijuana.
Marijuana is a drug that can stay in your system for a long time. Depending on what chemical compound the test is looking at, the test will either show what’s active in your system or what is inactive.
As a result, some cases will arise where the active compound is at a very low level, but you will still be charged because the inactive compound concentration is substantially higher. These cases are hard for officers to prove, however.
Unless you are driving dangerously or haphazardly, demonstrating considerable impairment, they might not be able to or choose to charge you at all. There’s no hard and fast number for marijuana like there is for alcohol. Because these cases are tougher for prosecutors to prove, at least in Marin County, they are more likely to offer reduced charges.
Sometimes, the prosecution will even not move forward with the case if they do not feel like they have enough proof to show that you were impaired by a drug, particularly marijuana, while driving.
What Level Of Marijuana In The Blood Is Sufficient For A DUI Conviction?
With tests of active marijuana compounds, the common measurement used is nanograms per milliliter. Unfortunately, there is no legislatively imposed (or even scientifically derived) quantity required for conviction.
Sometimes in California, even Marin County, prosecutors, and police will look at what other states do. In some states, not very many, there is a defined number. Typically it will be about five nanograms per milliliter. Unfortunately this in no way shows impairment, and there are no studies that show or prove that level to be dangerous.
If I Am A Daily Marijuana User, Will I Automatically Be Convicted?
Sometimes the police, DAs and even defense attorneys will be surprised by a very high active compound ratio indeed. In one case, a user was at 30 nanograms per milliliter, which is very high indeed. No pun intended.
Whether someone is a daily user or a frequent occasional user, tests may reveal a lot of marijuana in their system. That is a much tougher case for the accused to win. While it is not impossible for a qualified DUI defense attorney, it makes their job far more difficult. The lower the number the better.
Will A Blood Test After A DUI Arrest Reveal The Exact Date A Drug Like Marijuana Was Used?
One thing these drug tests cannot show is exactly what time you smoked or ingested the drug. Unfortunately, there is just no way to determine that timing exactly from the results. One thing that they can ascertain, however, is that if there is no, or very little, active marijuana in your system, that means that it has been quite some time since you had any.
This remains one of the most inexact sciences out there. No device can tell when exactly you consumed the drug and no number has been scientifically tested.
The bottom line remains, however, that it is not a good idea to smoke marijuana and then drive. You want to wait a considerable number of hours, or even a day or more before taking the road.
When it comes to your chances in court, however, as long as you’ve waited several hours (three or more) to make sure that you are not impaired, then you have a much better chance of winning. Especially with a competent and experienced DUI Drug attorney on your side to help you avoid a conviction.
But if you do tell an officer that you smoked, not even necessarily recently, then there is a much greater chance that you’re going to get arrested for the drug DUI, and that the prosecutors, at least in Marin County, will go after you for it.
Is A Chemical Test Alone Enough Evidence To Be Convicted For A Drug DUI In Marin County?
A DUI conviction requires that two elements be met: you were on drugs while you were driving and while you were driving you were impaired. Impaired in this case means that you were not driving like a sober person. For example, you were not using the same care and/or caution that a sober person would.
So while police and prosecutors need to bring in the scientific evidence and the lab reports and the toxicologist to prove the first part, they will also try to prove the second. For example, they might bring in a video to try to show that you were impaired, or officer testimony; they might say you did horribly on a sobriety test (which ironically has little to nothing to do with impairment for drugs as they are designed for alcohol).
Finally, in addition to impairment and drug use, they need to prove you were, in fact, driving. And so they have to have to show you as a driver. The officer needs to have observed you driving or if there has been an accident, they need proof that you were the driver.
How Can The Police Prove I Was Driving To Convict Me Of A Drug DUI?
Usually, officers and prosecutors will use what is called circumstantial evidence to prove you were driving. If they did not see who was driving they might look at who had the keys, if the seat was adjusted to your height, or whose car it was.
If you’re alone, the evidence is obviously in favor of you being the driver, though they can and will use any statements that you and/or your passengers made to the officers. If you tell them that you were the driver it’s pretty hard to refute that later in most cases.
Thus convicting a driver of a DUI drug offense is far more complicated than you might assume. If you are ever in the unfortunate circumstance of being charged with such an offense then you can and should fight that conviction with the help of a defense attorney specializing in DUI and Drug DUI defense.
For more information on DUI Drug Related Charges In Marin County, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.
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