It is not uncommon for people in California to try hallucinogenic drugs like LSD or psychedelic mushrooms. LSD has a much lower rate of regular use compared to other drugs like marijuana, opiates, or amphetamines. However, many people who commonly use LSD do not consider it to be dangerous to their ability to drive, especially when microdosing or only occasional use.
However, it does not matter if you feel perfectly safe driving after taking LSD. The judge may have a different opinion. Under California law, you can be arrested and charged with a drug DUI if you are driving “under the influence of any drug.” This even includes legal or prescription drugs.
Some drivers are pressured into pleading guilty to a drug DUI offense because the prosecutor threatens harsher penalties if they don't agree. However, before pleading guilty to any crime, make sure you talk to your lawyer to understand your rights. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
LSD Use in California
Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD or “acid,” is a psychedelic drug. The drug was first discovered by a Swiss chemist in 1938. The drug was used experimentally over the next couple of decades, with promising treatment results for mental health disorders. LSD became popular in the 1960s and well-associated with the counterculture in San Francisco.
By 1970, LSD was classified as a controlled substance and outlawed. LSD is classified in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug. While many people disagree with the classifications of these substances, Schedule I drugs are considered to have no valid medical purpose with a high potential for abuse.
Driving Under the Influence of LSD
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the effects of LSD on human performance are unpredictable and depend on the dose, user's personality and mood, expectations, and the surroundings. The use of LSD may impair reaction time, choice reaction time, and visual acuity.
- “Psychological: Hallucinations, increased color perception, altered mental state, thought disorders, temporary psychosis, delusions, body image changes, and impaired depth, time and space perceptions. Users may feel several emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. “Bad trips” may consist of severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, and despair.
- Physiological: Tachycardia, hypertension, dilated pupils, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, tremors, speech difficulties, and piloerection.”
Some police officers go through Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) programs, to become Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). DREs are supposed to be able to identify signs and symptoms of impairment by different categories of drugs. However, the DRE evaluation is very subjective and police officers often make mistakes in evaluating drivers.
A survey of DRE evaluations from 2016 shows how rarely police officers believe a driver is under the influence of hallucinogens, like LSD. Of 31,421 DRE evaluations, officers suspected the following drug categories:
- Cannabis - 13,603
- Stimulants - 10,543
- Depressants - 10,446
- Narcotic Analgesics - 8,678
- Dissociative Anesthetics - 464
- Inhalants - 245
- Hallucinogens - 164
In a survey in Denver Colorado between January 1988 and June 1990, 242 drivers were detained for driving while impaired and only 1 case of LSD was confirmed after urine toxicology screening.
The roadside tests police like to use to test for alcohol use are almost totally useless for LSD testing. According to the NHTSA, there is no horizontal or vertical gaze nystagmus. Pupil dilation to light is normal. Walk-and turn-tests or one-leg-stand tests may also be completed without any problems.
California Laws Against Driving Under the Influence of LSD
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.”
Under California Vehicle Code Section 312, a drug can include 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.” LSD qualifies as a drug under state law.
Testing for LSD and Other Drugs After a DUI
It can be very difficult for the police to identify clear signs of LSD use, even so-called Drug Recognition Experts. After a drug DUI arrest, the police will usually determine if the driver has consumed drugs by taking a urine or blood sample for chemical testing. The chemical test panel can look for signs of a number of common drug types, including:
- Hallucinogens (and LSD)
- Dissociative drugs
California's implied consent laws provide that a driver has given consent to chemical tests by virtue of driving on state roads and having a California driver's license. Penalties for refusing a chemical test include a one-year license suspension for your first refusal. After refusing a test, you may still face a criminal conviction even without evidence of drugs in your system.
Penalties for a Drug DUI Conviction in California
Most 1st-time drug DUIs are charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-offense misdemeanor DUI usually involve:
- A minimum of 48 hours in jail
- Fine of up to $1000
- 3 to 5 years of DUI probation
- License suspension
Drug DUI Defense in Alameda and Contra Costa
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of drug DUI defense experience and understands how to approach each case for the greatest chance for success. Representing individuals in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI defense attorney Lynn Gorelick today.