Psychedelic mushrooms, or “magic mushrooms” have been around for thousands of years. Mushrooms and fungi with psychoactive substances like psilocybin are still in use today, for recreational, religious, and experimental mental health purposes. However, even if mushrooms are relatively safe in the right setting, they can be dangerous when the user gets behind the wheel.
One of the problems with making it illegal to drive after taking psilocybin mushrooms is that it can be difficult to test. A blood or urine test may show evidence of mushrooms hours after the effects of the substance have worn off. A completely safe driver could end up under arrest, jailed, and with a criminal record just because chemical testing is not accurate. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today if you were accused of a drug DUI.
Driving Under the Influence of Shrooms in California
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f), “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” Similarly, it is against the law to drive under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 312, a drug includes any “substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.”
Physical and Psychological Effects of Psilocybin on Driving
Psilocybin is classified in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no valid medical purpose with a high potential for abuse. Scientific research has suggested that if psilocybin were approved for therapeutic use, it would more likely fit into the Schedule IV category. The Drug Policy Alliance does not consider psilocybin to be addictive or cause compulsive use.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), psilocybin mushrooms have an effect on the body and mind. The physical effects of mushrooms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
The psychological effects of psilocybin include:
- Inability to discern fantasy from reality
- In large amounts, can cause panic attacks or psychosis
The effects of psilocybin begin after they are processed by the liver, after about 20 to 30 minutes. Feelings include dizziness, light-headedness, giddiness, extremities feeling very light or heavy. For the next hour, vision and hearing can change and euphoria can develop. After about 90 minutes to 2 hours, body sensations and mental perceptions can increase, with increased introspection. After 2 to 3 hours, the effects usually start to diminish and are mostly gone after 3 to 5 hours.
Driving while feeling the effects of mushrooms can be dangerous. A person may experience hallucinations and difficulty differentiating fantasy from reality. The substance can also cause problems with coordination. Many of these effects are increased or made worse when combined with other substances, including alcohol.
Police Tests for Psilocybin
A police officer may witness suspicious driving with a driver under the influence of psychedelics, including swerving, driving too slow, delayed reaction times, or improper lane changes. In some cases, driving under the influence of magic mushrooms can cause an accident.
During a traffic stop, the police will look for signs of impairment, including use of alcohol or drugs. It may be more difficult to look for physical signs of mushroom use, especially after the effects begin to wear off. However, police may try to look for signs of drug use by simply talking to the driver. This includes tests and questioning like:
- The perceived passage of time
Blood and Urine Tests for Psilocybin Use After a DUI
After a driver is arrested on suspicion of a DUI, they will generally require a blood or urine test. Breath tests only apply when the driver is suspected of alcohol impairment. Under California's implied consent laws, drivers have given their implied consent to submit to chemical tests if they are arrested on suspicion of a DUI.
A blood test or urine test will look for a broad panel of drugs, including:
- Hallucinogens (like psilocybin)
- Dissociative drugs (PCP and Ketamine)
- Narcotic analgesic (opioids)
Drug DUI Defenses for East Bay Drivers
The chemical evidence of using magic mushrooms can stay in the body for days. The effects of mushrooms generally wear off after a few hours so it doesn't seem fair that a driver should face criminal charges for driving days later. However, the prosecutor may make it seem like you have no option but to plead guilty.
An experienced drug DUI defense lawyer understands the problems with relying on these often unreliable chemical tests. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of DUI defense experience and understands how to approach each case for the greatest chance for success. Fighting for drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, contact East Bay DUI defense attorney Lynn Gorelick today.