California Vehicle Code 23152(a) makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This prohibition includes any drug that impairs one's driving abilities, even drugs that are lawfully prescribed. DUI Vicodin can therefore lead to criminal prosecution in California.
A conviction for DUI of vicodin (hydrocodone) in California subjects one to probation, fines, DUI school, a drivers license suspension and possible jail time. But a good California DUI attorney may be able to help you fight the case successfully, keeping it off your record and avoiding all of these consequences.
What is DUI of Vicodin / Hydrocodone?
Vicodin (a brand name for the generic drug hydrocodone) is a narcotic analgesic. Other common narcotic analgesics include heroin, codeine and Demerol. Typical signs/symptoms of using these types of drugs include:
- Constricted pupils,
- Droopy eyelids,
- Slowed vital signs,
- Low, raspy speech, and
Although it may be surprising that people get arrested for DUI Vicodin, it happens quite frequently. Vicodin is one of the most popular prescription “pain killers”. However, its side effects can slow your reflexes, impair your thinking and reaction times, and make it difficult for you to drive a car safely.
The fact that you have a valid prescription will not necessarily serve as a defense to a California DUI Vicodin (hydrocodone) charge. Vicodin, like many prescription drugs, comes with a warning that cautions you before driving a car. It also warns you about the dangers of mixing the drug with other drugs and/or alcohol. (Note: If you get caught with vicodin not lawfully prescribed, you could also be charged with the felony offense of Health & Safety Code 11350: Possession of a Controlled Substance).
Re-Testing Blood Samples in California DUI Hydrocodone Cases
If you provided a blood sample during to the DUI arrest, your California DUI Vicodin attorney can order a “blood split”. When the police have your blood drawn, they send a portion of the sample to a crime lab for analysis.
But the police must retain a portion of the sample for the defense--called a "blood split." A split allows your DUI defense attorney to have your blood independently analyzed (at a separate laboratory) for the drug's presence and quantity.
Unlike California DUI Drug cases that involve illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine, the amount of the Vicodin found in your system often can aid in your DUI Hydrocodone defense.
“Therapeutic” or typically prescribed levels of Vicodin may be insufficient to cause mental and physical impairment...making it much easier for your California “driving under the influence of Vicodin” defense attorney to secure a dismissal or reduced charge.
Moreover, in re-testing the blood we sometimes find that the original sample got contaminated due to faulty collection or storage procedures. This may lead to the blood results being excluded from evidence, and the entire DUI hydrocodone case being dismissed.
How Does the Prosecutor Prove that I was DUI Vicodin?
When prosecuting a California DUI Hydrocodone case under California Vehicle Code 23152(a), the prosecutor will have
- The arresting officer,
- The Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE), and
- Your local law enforcement agency's criminalist
all testify that the signs/symptoms that you displayed were consistent with Vicodin use...as well as mental and physical impairment. The criminalist will also testify that opiates were found in your blood or urine. To clarify, Vicodin is a type of opiate which is a drug classified as a narcotic analgesic.
Defending Against a California DUI of Vicodin / Hydrocodone
The best defense for fighting a California DUI Vicodin charge varies with the circumstances of the case. Your California “DUI Hydrocodone” criminal defense lawyer will have to evaluate all the details of your arrest to determine the best defense strategy.
- Poor Police tactics,
- Improper Investigation procedures,
- Possible contamination of your blood or urine sample, and
- Defense expert testimony arguing that the Vicodin was within the therapeutic range and/or that you didn't appear to be “under its influence”
are examples of the types of defenses that may apply to your individual DUI Vicodin case.
The bottom line is this -- be careful when taking any drug. Make sure you know how a drug will affect you before you drive to avoid (instead of having to defend against) a California DUI Drugs charge.
But if you did get arrested for DUI of vicodin / hydrocodone, don't despair. We invite you to contact us at one of our local DUI law offices in Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino or any surrounding Southern California area.
Have you been charged in Nevada?
If you're facing charges for violating Nevada DUI Vicodin law, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to get your case reduced to a lesser charge or thrown out completely. Call them at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your case for free, and learn more at our informational article on Nevada DUI Vicodin law.