Driving a car while under the influence is a dangerous thing to do, as not only can you get harmed but other people’s safety can be in jeopardy too. So, what happens if someone is pulled over on suspicion of being intoxicated by alcohol, but they are under the influence of drugs instead? When most people think of a DUI arrest, they assume the driver had a blood alcohol content equal to or more than the legal limit of 0.08%. DUI crimes can also entail people who are impaired due to a drug substance.
If certain elements of their arrest are present, the accused may be faced with a felony DUI for drugs. The law for a DUI drug charge can differ greatly by state, so it’s important to visit with a Bloomington, IL DUI lawyer for protection and advice.
The Type of Drug
A person can be arrested for a drug-related DUI whether they are under the influence of an illegal or legal substance, if whatever is in their system is impacting their ability to operate a vehicle in a safe manner. Additionally, a DUI drug charge can include any drug which would not typically hinder your driving but when combined with having consumed alcohol it has an intoxicating effect. Perhaps the biggest take-away is that a person can have a legal and valid prescription medication in their system and still be charged with a drug DUI if they weren’t being safe on the road.
Law enforcement is not permitted to halt a car driver if they are not doing anything to warrant being stopped. Thus, anyone who has been arrested for a DUI drug charge when the officer had no observable reason to stop them at all may be able to fight to have their case dropped. Citizens have certain protections, and the right to a lawful halt and search and seizure are just a couple examples. An officer can pull over a vehicle for observable unsafe maneuvers such as:
- Swaying within the lane
- Slowly coasting into another lane either going the same direction or towards on-coming traffic
- Speeding excessively or so slow that it becomes a hazard to others
- Violating traffic laws such as running a red light, not halting at a stop sight, or failing to yield to cars that have the right-of-way
- Almost hitting or actually making contact with another vehicle, pedestrian, and/or property
Felony DUI Drug Charge
DUI offenses pertaining to drugs are usually charged as a misdemeanor, however, it is possible for the offense to be raised to a felony in specific circumstances. A felony DUI drug conviction will probably result in the offender paying higher penalties with an increased likelihood for a long-term incarceration sentencing. Examples of reasons that a misdemeanor may turn into a felony DUI drug charge include:
- Driving with a child in the car
- Causing a car accident that results in serious injury to another and/or property
- Having multiple DUI charges
- Driving while on a suspended license
Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into criminal law and a DUI for drugs.