How a Los Angeles DUI Attorney handles Drug DUI cases, including MDMA DUI.

MDMA DUI cases and other drug DUI cases are becoming more and more commonplace with the wider use of recreational and medicinal use of drugs like marijuana and MDMA. The body of law on DUI has been well developed over the decades, showing our collective experience with alcohol and the widespread and commonplace nature of alcohol DUI.

Drug DUI cases, such as MDMA DUI, are a relatively new development. Because of this, the law is catching up and there are calls for overhauling the DMV license suspension process and even calls for changing how the criminal courts handle drug DUI’s.

The DMV APS Process: No “Drug DUI” license suspension.

Perhaps the most important distinction between a drug DUI and an alcohol DUI is the DMV. The DMV currently has no process in place to handle drug DUI cases. This is because of how the DMV APS process was established. In 1990, the California legislature created the APS (Administrative Per Se) process whereby the DMV was given power to suspend the driver’s licenses of people arrested for alcohol DUI. The law (including forensic science) had decades of experience with alcohol DUIs, and it was felt the science of breath testing and blood testing, along with the study of “impairment” by alcohol was sufficiently well advanced to empower the DMV to take action. In alcohol DUI cases, this means an automatic suspension, unless the driver requests a DMV hearing.
MDMA, also known as “Molly’s” are common rave party drugs that can cause impairment and result in an MDMA DUI. Unlike alcohol DUI enforcement where breath testing is common, MDMA and other drug DUI cases are only detected using blood testing.

MDMA DUI cases often involve more than one drug, because most users are involved with a number of illicit drugs, legal drugs and alcohol.

As a mind altering substance, MDMA can create a very real risk for impaired driving. Driving a car involves a number of motor skills, coordination, mental tasks and focus. All of these can be dramatically impaired by the use of MDMA and its constituent drugs.

CVC 23152e and 23152f: California’s new Drug DUI Laws

The California Vehicle code was amended, effective January 1, 2014 to encompass Drug Impairment DUI cases. CVC 23152 used to have two subsections: CVC 23152a and b, where paragraph (a) was used as a catchall for “impaired” driving, including drug related DUI.

The changes in 2014 added new sections to CVC 23152 that cover impairment specifically from drugs and from a combination of alcohol and drugs.

As of the date of writing for this article, there are no “per-se” limits for impairment from drugs.  For alcohol, there is a “per-se” limit that states that anyone driving a car with a blood alcohol level above 0.08% is guilty of a violation of law.  There are no limits for MDMA, THC, heroin, cocaine or other drugs in large part because of the lack of scientific investigation of drug impairment on driving ability.

Drug DUI cases, including MDMA impairment, are becoming more and more common. The body of law surrounding alcohol DUI is well developed: DUI law dates back to the 1930’s because people have been drinking and driving for a long time. Drug DUI enforcement is a relatively new area of law: in part because of the increased availability of illicit drugs, in part because of improvements in scientific forensic investigation and in part because of the advent of legalized drugs like medicinal and recreational marijuana.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: NHTSA is studying the effects of drugs and driving with the goal of updating the law to better reflect impaired driving realities in the modern age.
NHTSA: More related articles on Drug DUI, including Drug DUI recognition, enforcement and forensic sciences used to obtain Drug DUI convictions.

Posted in Drug DUI, DUI Attorney.

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