First Offense Drug DUI

San Diego First Offense Drug DUI Lawyer 

The California Legislature recently changed the law to make driving under the influence of drugs and the combination of drugs and alcohol separate offenses. The prosecutor may bring separate charges if you were under the influence of drugs (Vehicle Code section 23152(e)) or if you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol (Vehicle Code section 23152(f)).

The Law

California Vehicle Code section 23152 (e) & (f) are misdemeanors and define Drug and/or drugs and alcohol related DUI offenses as:

(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

What Does This Actually Mean?

Many individuals believe a DUI is just one crime. But, in San Diego, an individual arrested for DUI can face multiple charges. An individual can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs and/or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.


In California, you can be charged with a DUI for taking drugs, if the prosecutor can prove two things:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle, and
  2. You were under the influence of a drug at the time you drove.


The prosecutor must prove that you actually drove your vehicle. But, what does it mean to drive in California? The courts have defined driving as the vehicle moving, no matter how slight the movement.

Typically an officer will observe the vehicle moving, which will satisfy this element. But, courts also permit prosecutors to use circumstantial evidence to prove driving. Circumstantial evidence of driving includes facts that indicate you were driving, such as the engine is on, seated in the driver seat, keys in the ignition, head lights illuminated, etc.

Under the Influence

California courts have held that you are under the influence if your physical and mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances. In other words, the prosecutor will use any fact showing you were driving poorly, such as swerving, speeding, an accident, etc.

Further, a drug recognition expert will likely conduct a series of tests to determine if they believe you are under the influence of a drug and what drug that may be. If an officer believes you are under the influence of a drug, then they will request you take a blood test. If you refuse to take the test, then the prosecutor and DMV may seek additional penalties, which are discussed in further detail in



Since the establishment of this law firm in 1998, we have strived to provide our clients with the highest quality representation and a level of customer service that is unparalleled by any firm anywhere.
  • Super Lawyers
  • The National College for DUI Defense
  • California DUI Lawyers Association
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  • National Trial Lawyers
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Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We are here to help. Still have questions or can't find the answer you need? Give us a call at 619-930-5490 today!

  • I was not drunk. Can I be charged with DUI for smoking marijuana or taking prescription medications?
    If you were arrested for DUI but didn’t have alcohol in your system, you can still be charged with DUI. There are a number different charges associated with misdemeanor and felony DUI. You can be charged with an (f) count if you consumed any intoxicating drugs, regardless of whether they are illegal or prescription. But, if you were under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, then you can be charged with an (e) count for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
  • Aren’t the police supposed to read me my Miranda rights?
    It seems like common sense that an officer must read you your Miranda rights. Although this is true in a situation where you are being interrogated, for purposes of DUI, you don’t have that same right. Many times an officer will ask you questions prior to administering field sobriety tests and placing you under arrest. These questions have been classified as “pre-investigatory” questions and are not subject to Miranda. Therefore, it is important you speak with an experience DUI Defense Firm to know whether or not the failure to read you your rights will affect your case.
  • I was involved in an accident and someone was injured. Will I be charged with a Felony?
    Maybe. You can be charged with Felony DUI whenever anyone other than yourself is injured. Even if the injuries were to a friend and their injuries are minor, you can still be charged with a felony. Penalties for a Felony DUI can be severe because your can face time in prison.

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