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Everyday medication can cause impairment, lead to DUI charge

According to California laws, any person over 21, who drives a vehicle while his or blood alcohol content is .08 percent or more may be charged with drunk driving. Those who are under 21 are breaking the law if their BAC is .01 percent or more, and the percentage for drivers of commercial vehicles is .04. However, it is not only alcohol that can impair an individual's driving abilities. Using any controlled substances or over-the-counter drugs may also lead to a DUI charge.

Drivers may want to carefully read the information supplied with medication, or check with a doctor or pharmacist whether medication can cause dizziness or drowsiness. Cough syrups and other medication for colds, allergies, hay fever and tension are known to cause drowsiness. When medication is taken in conjunction with alcohol, the result may lead to unanticipated side effects. A person's gender and body weight impact the effect alcohol will have on his or her BAC, and even one drink can be enough to push an individual's BAC over the limit.

The law also prohibits any driver to have opened alcohol containers in a vehicle; however, unopened or sealed containers may be put in the vehicle's trunk. If a driver is suspected of being impaired by drugs or alcohol, an officer has the legal right to request a urine or blood test. Refusing to submit to such tests may affect the duration of the suspension of a driver's license. When a driver is detained or arrested, his or her driving privileges may be suspended.

A California driver facing a DUI charge typically benefits from the advice and support of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A traffic stop, arrest or DUI charge does not constitute guilt and is not the equivalent of a conviction. The prosecution has the burden of proof. Defense counsel will assess the arrest process to identify potential challenges to the admissibility of certain evidence at trial. In addition to focusing on protecting the rights of the accused person, the attorney will fight to achieve the best possible outcome.

Source: apps.dmv.ca.gov, "California Driver Handbook", Jan. 9, 2015

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