Can My Prescription Be A Valid DUI Defense? (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(A))
January 23, 2013

Having a doctor’s prescription for Vicodin or any other legal drug is not a valid defense to a charge of driving under the influence.  California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) clearly states that it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle when you are under the influence of a drug.  The law does not make any exceptions for those having a valid prescription.  Similarly, having a prescription for marijuana does not permit a person to operate a motor vehicle when they are under the influence of marijuana.

The prosecution must prove two things:

  • The defendant drove a vehicle; and
  • When the defendant drove, the defendant was under the influence of a drug

Unlike alcohol, where a breath or blood test can determine your blood alcohol content, there is no quick method for law enforcement to determine the specific amount of drug content in your body; other than, whether an individual tested positive or negative for a drug.

As such, it can be difficult for the prosecution to prove you were actually “under the influence of a drug” when driving a vehicle. The strongest defense is that you were not operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug.

For example, you can consume a prescription drug like Vicodin and continue to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner.  Just because someone consumes a dose of Vicodin does not mean they are “under the influence of a drug.”  Therefore, the prosecution will look at objective factors of the defendant’s driving patterns to determine if the driver was under the influence of a drug.  Specifically, the prosecutor will see if the defendant was speeding, driving erratically, weaving between traffic or driving on the wrong side of the road.

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced Southern California DUI defense attorney at Wallin and Klarich.  Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling DUI cases and drug related matters.  The experienced attorneys at Wallin and Klarich will answer all your questions and work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.  To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, please call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245.  We will be there when you call.

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