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What drugs qualify as DUI in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, Drunk Driving |

At this point, we all know that drinking and driving is against the law across the country. However, what you may not know is that other substances can qualify you for a DUI charge in Newport Beach, California, as well.

DUI for drugs and alcohol

Depending on the drug, California treats drugs and alcohol similarly in the sense that driving while intoxicated is against the law. The penalties are largely the same, again, depending on the drug. And, while many may only think this applies to street drugs, it can also apply to legal, over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

This is because our state looks at the effects of the drug for DUI purposes, not necessarily what caused the effects. In other words, how does the substance affect the person’s muscles, nervous system or brain?


Marijuana (also known as weed, pot, etc.) is legal, and used by many throughout Orange County, including those who have prescriptions for its use. Nonetheless, driving after smoking pot is illegal. A chemical test is required to get a result, but if any amount of marijuana is found in your urine, it may be enough to get you convicted.

Illegal drugs

If you are pulled over showing signs of intoxication, but it is from an illegal drug, your penalties may be worse than a DUI. This is because the use of those illegal drugs has penalties alone. These drugs could be found in that same chemical urine test used to find marijuana.

Legal, over-the-counter and prescription drugs

If you are pulled over for driving erratically, given a chemical test and legal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs are found in your system, you could still face DUI charges. This is because those legal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs caused an impairment similar to that of any other drug or that of alcohol.

The takeaway

For our Newport Beach, California, and Orange County readers, generally, you could find yourself facing DUI charges for much more than just over drinking. You should take these offenses seriously. They can destroy your life if you take the full brunt of potential penalties, and no one bad decision should have such a negative impact on one’s life.