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Everything You Need To Know About The Blood Test for Prescription Drugs DUI

When your doctor writes you a prescription for medication, it is your responsibility to use the drug exactly as intended. For example, you should only take the number of pills specified per day since taking more than prescribed or even skipping doses could cause unintended consequences. Many medications also state on the label that taking them may affect your driving ability. This precaution is especially important for you to pay attention to until you have a better understanding of how your body reacts to the drug.

You Can Get a DUI Even When Taking Prescription or Over-the-Counter Drugs

The fact that a drug found in your system is not illegal is not enough to protect you from a DUI charge. People receive DUIs all the time for driving after having consumed sleep medication, anti-anxiety pills, prescription painkillers, and even medical marijuana. However, testing for impairment with drugs is not as straightforward as it is with alcohol. Most California counties opt to have the arrested person complete a blood test to determine if the amount of legal drugs in their system meets the state definition of impairment.

What to Expect When Taking a DUI Blood Test in California

Because police officers cannot test for impairment with drugs the same way they can for alcohol, they must arrange for chemical blood testing as quickly as possible. The officer is also responsible for sending the blood draw to a certified testing facility for analysis.

If you refuse to submit to this request, the police officer who pulled you over on suspicion of impaired driving has the authority to perform a forced blood draw on the spot. The officer just needs to get a hold of an on-call judge and then wait to receive a warrant by fax. You would be in custody at the local police station by this point. Even if you think you are innocent, keep in mind that refusing to submit to a blood test leaves you open to additional charges of DUI refusal.

Regardless of how the police obtain your blood sample, the next step is to send it to a toxicology lab within the same county. A certified lab worker tests your blood for a panel of legal and illegal drugs known to cause driver impairment. Common examples include:

  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Meth
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Prescription or non-prescription sleep medication

Learning Your Blood Test Results

You typically do not learn the results of your blood test until you report for arraignment. If the result is positive, the court will formally charge you with driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI in California violates Section 23152(f) VC of the state’s vehicle code. Typical penalties include loss of driver’s license, fines, court-ordered drug education courses, and minimal jail time for a first offense.

California law also requires the laboratory that tested your blood to retain a small portion of it. At this point in the process, you should have retained a lawyer who will request that the laboratory working with the state send the retained portion of your blood to an independent laboratory for re-testing.

You may use the results of the re-testing in your defense against the DUI charge. One common scenario that occurs is that the second laboratory cannot find enough of the drug in question in your blood to cause impairment in your driving.

Unfortunately, too many California drivers settle for inexperienced attorneys who do not demand that a second, independent laboratory test the client’s blood. They suffer significantly from this mistake due to the damage to their reputation and the legal consequences they face from a conviction. Understanding your rights and hiring competent legal council is key to preserving your freedoms after the state charges you with DUI.

Learn more about prescription drug DUIs and how Artz & Sturm Law Group handles these cases for clients.

Hire Experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorneys at Artz & Sturm Law Group

Craig Sturm of Artz & Sturm Law Group has decades of experience representing the rights of California drivers charged with DUI. Located in Los Angeles, attorney Craig Sturm has worked on some of the most challenging DUI cases in the country.

Artz & Sturm Law Group has kept 99 percent of California drivers charged with DUI out of jail. These drivers also keep their licenses, even with a second offense. Additionally, 90 percent of clients from the Artz & Sturm Law Group have all charges dropped during their DUI trial.

DUI lawyer Craig Sturm understands this is a difficult and overwhelming time for you. To schedule an initial case review, please complete this form or call the law firm directly at 310-820-1315 with any additional questions you may have.

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