DUI and Drug Possession
In some cases, a driver arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also be charged with other criminal offenses depending on the circumstances of the arrest. In cases in which the driver is found to have drugs on his or her person or in the vehicle, he or she can also be charged with drug possession or other drug crimes.Discovery of Drugs During a DUI Arrest or Investigation
As part of a DUI investigation, an officer will typically ask the driver suspected of DUI if he or she has been drinking or using drugs. If the driver indicates drug use or if the officer notices signs of drug use, the officer may further ask if the driver is currently possessing drugs. Drugs can also be discovered during a search of the defendant incident to arrest or an inventory search of the defendant’s vehicle if it is to be towed. If the drugs were discovered as the result of an illegal search or seizure, the defendant’s attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If granted, the resulting drug evidence would be suppressed and the prosecution would likely be unable to proceed with the drugs charges and would likely dismiss.Possible Drug Charges
Previously, drug possession was a felony level offense. However, Proposition 47 reduced many drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. Drivers who are found to have drugs can be charged with possession of a controlled substance in violation of California Health and Safety Code Section 11350(a) HSC or possession of methamphetamine pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a) HSC.
If the officer believes that the drugs are possessed to be sold, the defendant can be charged with possession for sale under California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 HSC or California Health and Safety Code Section 11378 HSC. This is a “wobbler” offense that can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In addition, when drugs are found in a vehicle, the defendant can potentially be charged under California Health and Safety Code Section 11352 HSC or California Health and Safety Code Section 11379 HSC, which makes it illegal to sell, transport or provide drugs. The prosecution may proceed under the theory that the defendant was “transporting” drugs. These code sections are always felonies and can result in prison sentences for those who are convicted.Fighting DUI and Drug Possession Charges
As described above, the search of the defendant’s vehicle or person may be challenged in Court by filing a motion to suppress evidence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. The defense can also use this code section to challenge the vehicle stop. If the vehicle stop is found to be unconstitutional, all resulting DUI and drug evidence would be suppressed. The prosecution would likely dismiss as they would be unable to proceed with either the DUI or the drug possession charges.
In many cases, the drugs may be discovered during a search of the vehicle in which the driver is accompanied by passengers. In these cases, the prosecution may be unable to prove that the defendant knew that there were drugs in the vehicle or that the drugs belonged to the defendant and not someone else.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense or drug offense, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands the sensitive nature of these cases and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.
For more information about DUI and drug possession, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles attorney Mr. Kraut 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.