A charge for driving under the influence can involve both driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It does not matter if the drugs are illegal or prescription drugs. Both can result in a DUI arrest and prosecution, meaning this can include driving under the influence of Xanax (i.e. Xanax DUI), even if you are prescribed Xanax by a doctor.
There are four things you should know in order to better educate yourself about driving under the influence of drugs.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, including a Xanax DUI
In California, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any substance that affects the muscles, the brain, or the nervous system. This includes drugs that could lead to slow reaction times and driving impairment, regardless of whether the drug is prescribed or illegal.
Xanax specifically can impair driving and reaction times to a dangerous degree. When Xanax is taken, it produces a pleasant relaxed feeling, which is medically used to treat anxiety or depression. However, because of the feelings produced from Xanax, it is a popular recreational drug as well.
Though it is a prescribed drug, Xanax is a mind-altering drug. Taken in healthy doses, it does not disorient the individual the way alcohol does, but it can still lead to slow reaction time. If the driver is driving with any Xanax in their system, they can be arrested and prosecuted for a Xanax DUI.
When mixing Xanax and alcohol, the effects are powerful. Xanax boosts the effect of alcohol, making one alcoholic drink feel like three.
California Vehicle Code 23152(f)
California Vehicle Code 23152(f) governs the crime of driving under the influence of drugs. CA Vehicle Code 23152(f) states that driving under the influence of drugs occurs when the drugs impair the driver to the point where he or she can no longer drive like a sober driver under similar circumstances.
Law Enforcement Testing for Xanax DUI Arrests
Drug DUI investigations involve the use of a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE is a police officer that is trained to recognize the impairment of drivers that are under the influence of drugs, other than or in addition to alcohol. A properly trained and knowledgeable DRE will be able to successfully identify drug impairment, as well as the category of drugs that are causing the impairment.
The most accurate testing is a blood or urine test of the driver. Xanax is especially hard to detect through normal field sobriety tests, so blood testing is preferred.
Though the driver can refuse such testing, it is not advised. By refusing to submit to any testing, the DMV can automatically suspend your license, and there may be other consequences for the refusal alone; regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted of the Xanax DUI.
Sentencing & Enhancements
The penalties for a first time Xanax DUI are not too different from a first-time alcohol DUI. Xanax DUIs are misdemeanors, and Xanax DUI punishments range from a maximum fine of $1,000 to six months in county jail.
When your Xanax DUI involves serious bodily injury, death, property damage, or it is not your first DUI conviction, the Xanax DUI punishments can greatly enhance. These enhancements can be as little at 18 additional days in jail, to 15 additional years in jail for a fatality.