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MDMA Ecstasy Drug DUI in California

Ecstasy is a popular party drug. Many young people try E when going to a music festival or nightclub. There are risks associated with ecstasy but many people don't think about the impaired driving aspects. In California, driving under the influence of any drug, including prescription drugs, may be a crime. A simple traffic stop can lead to a DUI drug arrest, even if the effects of the drug had worn off.

Driving Under the Influence of Ecstasy 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.”

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.”

MDMA is considered a controlled substance and categorized as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no valid medical purpose with a high potential for abuse. MDMA ((3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) goes by a number of names, including: 

  • Ecstasy
  • Molly
  • E
  • Vitamin E or Vitamin X

Even if you do not think you are impaired or you're driving safely, if a blood test shows the presence of MDMA or other drugs in your system, the D.A. can use that evidence to prosecute you for drugged driving. However, the presence of drugs in your body does not mean you were under the influence at the time of driving. This is why it is important to talk to a DUI defense lawyer before accepting a plea deal. 

Signs of Drug Use and Chemical Testing

Some police officers go through specialized training to become Drug Recognition Experts. This is really just basic information on possible signs and symptoms of different chemical effects. This does not make the police officer a medical expert. The effects of MDMA can last for about 4 to 6 hours, and signs and symptoms of use may include: 

  • Impaired performance on the one-leg-stand test
  • Impaired estimation of the passage of time
  • Impaired walk-and-turn test
  • Elevated pulse
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Visual distortion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Body tremors
  • Disorientation

If the police make a drug DUI arrest, they will try and get a blood sample for chemical testing. Refusing a test after a DUI arrest can result in a suspended license and the driver could still be prosecuted even without the test results. The judge can tell a jury that they can infer that the reason you refused a chemical test was because you were aware of your guilt. A blood test panel can look for signs of a number of common drug types, including: 

  • Cannabis  
  • Stimulants 
  • Depressants 
  • Hallucinogens  
  • Dissociative drugs  
  • Opioids
  • Inhalants 

One of the problems with using evidence of a drug test to show impairment is that the effects of the drug may have worn off long before the drug test. The effects of MDMA generally don't last for more than 6 hours. However, the drug may still be detected in bodily fluids for up to 3 days or more. Your DUI defense lawyer can use this to show that the driver was not impaired at the time of the traffic stop.

MDMA With Alcohol

Another problem with ecstasy and driving is that people often combine MDMA with drinking. MDMA with alcohol can change the individual's perception of how impaired they are. They may feel wide awake and in control but their body may not react the same way behind the wheel. Alcohol may also delay the time it takes MDMA to break down in the body. The risk of an accident while using alcohol and E can increase.

MDMA's Effect on Driving

MDMA is a synthetic drug and consumers may have no idea what is actually in the pill they are taking. Dosage can also vary greatly, even from tablet to tablet. The effects of MDMA on motor function and sensory perception can also vary by person. MDMA with or without alcohol or other drugs may cause:

  • Impaired depth perception
  • Impaired time perception
  • Impaired muscle control
  • Altered reaction times
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Disorientation
  • Sleep loss

Penalties for Drug DUIs in California

Under California Vehicle Code 23152(f), it is against the law to drive under the influence of any drug. Most 1st-time drug DUIs are charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a misdemeanor drug DUI may include: 

Drug DUI Defenses for East Bay Drivers 

Talk to your East Bay DUI defense lawyer about legal defenses for your criminal charges. Chemical tests after a drug DUI arrest are not always accurate. The blood test may have been contaminated or the police did not follow proper testing procedures. Testing problems may give the judge a reason to throw out the results, leaving the prosecutor with little to no evidence. 

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.

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