Napa Drug DUI Attorney

Driving any vehicle while under the influence of drugs is a serious violation of California law. Because of its severity, a DUI conviction involving drugs can result in drastic life changes. However, just because you were arrested for a drug DUI does not mean that you have to submit to an immediate conviction. Officers can make mistakes, equipment can be broken, and sometimes charges aren’t backed by sufficient evidence. Regardless of how intimidating your DUI charge is, the Law Office of Conor Bell is prepared to defend you and your rights in Napa, California.

You Need a Drug DUI Lawyer on Your Team

Being arrested for a drug DUI in California can be an isolating experience. With all the emotions and complicated legalities you’re going to deal with, it’s smart to retain a dependable drug DUI attorney who can help you manage. At the Law Office of Conor Bell, we understand the impact that a DUI can have on your life and are prepared to take action. Our head attorney has worked through hundreds of cases and knows what strategies are effective in situations like yours. If you need defense representation against a drug DUI in Napa County, our firm offers compassionate assistance that can meet your exclusive needs.

Napa Drug DUI Attorney

What Qualifies as a Drug DUI in California?

Many California residents are unaware that they can receive a DUI because of drug intoxication. A drug DUI in California is often referred to as a “DUID,” or a “driving under the influence of drugs” charge. According to state law, an individual can be charged with a DUID if they are found driving while impaired by any drug or under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. A drug is considered to be any substance that has the power to alter your state of mind, affect your nervous system and brain, and ultimately impair your driving abilities. This means that you can be under the influence of any of the following substances and still be charged with a DUI if you’re impaired:

  • Illegal drugs
  • Legally approved drugs
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Prescription drugs

Does California Have a Legal Limit for Drugs?

Unlike DUIs involving alcohol, DUIDs do not have “legal limits.” This is because it is much easier to quickly test someone’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and correlate the amount of alcohol in their system to their level of impairment. With most drugs, however, you can’t perform quick tests that show the amount of a drug that is present and, when you can, the amount may not actually correlate to how impaired someone is. This is because many drug users have higher concentrations of substances in their system, regardless of if they are impaired at the time they are tested.

How Can Your Arresting Officer Prove That You’re Impaired by Drugs?

Because there is no legal limit that dictates drug intoxication, a law enforcement officer must be able to prove that you were impaired while operating a vehicle if they want to arrest you. To do this, they may use one or more of the following methods:

Conduct Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Tests

While a breathalyzer is used to test your BAC, it is usually one of the first tests performed when an officer suspects that a driver is intoxicated. Breathalyzers work quickly to show the amount of alcohol that a person has consumed and how impaired they are. If you have a breathalyzer result of 0.08% or higher, you may be immediately arrested for a DUI, regardless of whether drugs were involved.

In cases where alcohol is not involved, it can be a bit more challenging for an officer to tell if you’re truly impaired. If your breathalyzer came back clear, an officer will most likely have you perform some type of field sobriety test next. These are simple tests that assess your reflexes, judgment, and overall coherency. Field sobriety tests can include:

  • Having you stand on one leg for an extended period of time.
  • A “walk-and-turn” assessment.
  • Eye jerking assessment (nystagmus).
  • Having you stand still for an extended period of time.
  • Having you stick your arm out and then bring your finger back to your nose.

Assess Your Physical and Mental State

Similar to cases of alcohol intoxication, a person’s physical or mental state may give away that they are impaired. In addition to field sobriety tests that evaluate your physical abilities, an officer will assess your current physical and mental state. Certain physical traits can be signs of drug intoxication, such as:

  • Disproportionately sized pupils
  • Eye jerking
  • Lack of head and neck control
  • Pulse rate

Officers may also look to see whether you are extremely drowsy or hyperactive, which can also point toward drug use in drivers.

Check Your Vehicle for Paraphernalia

It’s crucial that you understand your rights if you are detained in Napa and an officer wants to search your car. Initially, an officer does not have the right to open your car and search it if you do not consent to them doing so. However, if they have sufficient reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, they no longer need your approval. For example, if an officer pulls you over for driving dangerously and then sees paraphernalia in your passenger seat, they have the right to search your vehicle for more evidence of illegal behavior.

You should discuss the exact timeline of your arrest with your defense attorney to ensure that everything was done legally. If your lawyer notices anything out of place, you may be able to prove that misconduct was involved, and you can fight for your case to be dismissed.

Call in a Drug Recognition Expert

In some situations, a drug recognition expert may be called in to evaluate an intoxicated individual. Drug recognition experts are still law officers, but they also carry specific training in the identification of narcotics. Not every California county has drug recognition experts, but you can occasionally see them here in Napa.

If you have to talk to a drug recognition expert, you can expect them to perform their own in-depth tests to see if you may be on narcotics. Legally, you do not have to answer the questions of a drug recognition expert unless they apply to the state’s implied consent law. This is because the expert may ask you personal questions without a lawyer present. If you’re not sure what to do during a drug recognition expert investigation, stay silent unless you’re required to speak.

The Consequences of a Drug DUI in Napa

If you are convicted of a drug DUI in Napa, you can still face the same consequences as those who were arrested for alcohol. To deter repeat offenders and encourage safe driving habits throughout the state, California implements harsh consequences for all individuals convicted of DUIs. The exact severity of your charge will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether other drivers were hurt or if you caused property damage. Regardless, you can expect consequences to increase with each DUI conviction that you receive. You should also note that, if you are charged with a drug DUI first and then later convicted of a DUI involving alcohol, it will still be considered your second offense.

The following are the penalties that come with a drug DUI conviction in California:

  1. First Violation (Misdemeanor):
    • Multiple years of DUI probation or up to six months in your county jail
    • Fines starting at $390 and reaching $1,000, plus any penalties
    • Mandatory drug safety classes for three to nine months
    • Suspension of your license for up to six months
  2. Second Violation (Misdemeanor):
    • A minimum of 96 hours but up to one year in your county jail (If you avoid jail time, you may be able to serve your time on house arrest or through probation that lasts multiple years.)
    • Fines starting at $390 and ranging to $1,000, plus any additional penalties
    • Suspension of your license for two years
    • Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) when your license is restored
    • Mandatory “DUI school” for an extended period, most likely 18 months or more
  3. Third Violation (Misdemeanor):
    • A minimum of 120 days in your county jail but up to one full year (You may be able to get probation for three to five years instead of jail time with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.)
    • Fines still ranging from $390 to $1,000, but additional penalties may total a few thousand dollars as well
    • Suspension of your license for three years
    • Mandatory installation of an IID when you are granted driving privileges again, generally for two years
    • Mandatory DUI school for up to 30 months
  4. Fourth and Subsequent Violations or Aggravated Violations (Felonies):
    • Anywhere from 16 months to 4 years in prison (Prison time is drastically elevated if a DUI results in a fatality.)
    • Fines carrying a maximum of $1,000, but additional penalties that can reach up to $5,000 or more
    • Suspension of your license for up to five years
    • Mandatory use of an IID for multiple years after you regain driving privileges
    • A felony on your criminal record

Do You Have to Submit to a Blood Test in California?

If you’re pulled over because an officer suspects that you’re intoxicated, they may have you take one of two tests. The most common tests that are given on the spot are breathalyzers. Due to California’s “implied consent” law, you must submit to a breathalyzer test if an officer suspects you of being intoxicated. Otherwise, your license may be suspended immediately.

However, in the case of a DUI involving drugs and not alcohol, breathalyzers don’t give results that can be used in court. Because of this, individuals suspected of a DUID will most likely have to take blood tests in addition to chemical tests. While you are not required to take a blood test at the location where you were pulled over, you are mandated to take one if you are arrested. You can only be required to take a blood test if your arresting officer had a clear reason to believe that you were impaired by drugs or if they believe that the results will prove your impairment to the court.

Is It Really Worth It to Hire a Drug DUI Lawyer in Napa?

Anyone accused of a criminal offense in California should seek a defense team as soon as possible, especially if they are facing jail time. With a drug DUI, the consequences of your charge are extremely serious and can negatively impact your day-to-day life. That’s why working with a Napa drug DUI lawyer is vital when trying to defend yourself against these kinds of harsh accusations. Here at the Law Office of Conor Bell, we devote endless time, energy, and compassion to each of our clients. We know that facing a charge as intimidating as a DUI can leave you feeling helpless, which is why our firm prioritizes accessible defense representation for residents all over northern California.

Just a few of the reasons we recommend hiring an adept defense team like ours include:

  • You’ll need a strategic, powerful defense if your case goes to trial.
  • Evidence will need to be collected and used to build your defense.
  • It’s difficult to defend yourself without knowledge of criminal law or DUI guidelines in California.
  • Our staff members can work with you one-on-one to help you navigate each step of your drug DUI case.
  • Our defense team has comprehensive experience working on DUI cases, allowing us to work toward positive solutions in almost any situation.

Do Not Delay Finding a Napa Defense Team

Hiring a DUI defense lawyer as soon as you can comes with significant advantages. It also helps ensure that you have the support needed to defend yourself throughout your case. At the Law Office of Conor Bell, you can trust that our defense team can put you and your concerns first. We devote the utmost care to each of our cases and are prepared to do everything we can to find a positive resolution to your drug DUI charge. If you were arrested for a drug DUI in Napa, contact the Law Office of Conor Bell for impressive legal assistance.