When someone is arrested for a DUI drug charge, this means that they were found in suspicion of being under the influence of drugs while behind the wheel, but they were impaired due to another drug besides alcohol. It is important to understand that a person can be charged with this offense even if the drug in question is of a legal nature that was prescribed by a doctor or purchased as over-the-counter medication.
In general, a “drug” is defined as a substance that can have an effect on the nervous system, and thus impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. The umbrella of this definition also includes any drug that doesn’t interfere with a person’s driving normally, that is, unless they have combined its use with alcohol to result in an intoxicating effect.
When a DUI Drug Arrests Results in a Felony
In most cases, a charge for being under the influence of a drug while driving will result in a misdemeanor conviction. But, if there are aspects of the arrest in which the offense caused harm or put other’s safety in jeopardy, then the prosecution may request that it becomes a felony charge. If any of the following elements are true for your DUI drug arrest, then you must notify your drug lawyer in San Francisco, CA immediately so they can develop a defense in an effort to properly protect you:
- A person under the legal age was also in the vehicle. In several states, if someone drives while under the influence when a minor is a passenger, the offender may face a felony instead of a misdemeanor conviction.
- You caused or were part of a serious crash that resulted in injury. By getting involved in a car crash that led to injury, property damage, or death of another person can quickly be raised to felony charge. In certain states, even causing injury to only oneself can be enough for it to be elevated to a felony.
- You had a suspended license at the time of the arrest. You may face a felony charge if you drove while impaired by a drug, but were operating the vehicle while having a revoked or suspended license.
- You have a criminal history and/or past DUI offenses. If you have a criminal background or this wasn’t the first time you were arrested for a DUI offense, the prosecution may file a felony DUI drug charge against you.
Possible Penalties For a DUI Drug Conviction
If you are found guilty of a DUI drug conviction, there are several possible penalties that you may have to endure. Here are just a few examples of consequences you may have to deal with due to what happened:
- A lengthy incarceration sentence that must be fulfilled in a state prison
- Paying fines upwards of $10,000 or more
- Being sentenced to probation (having to regularly check-in with a probation officer, having certain liberties restriction, and taking random drug tests)
- Suspension or revocation of license
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and reasons why a drug arrest can turn into a felony charge.