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Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance: H&S 11550

Understand how "under the influence" means something different when it comes to drugs...

California Health & Safety Code section 11550 prohibits being "under the influence of a controlled substance" in two situations.

The first situation occurs when a person ingests an illicit drug... in other words, one that is never legal to consume. Cocaine and heroin are examples.

The second occurs when a person ingests an otherwise legal prescription drug without corresponding permission/instruction from a doctor... in other words, taking another person's medicine.  In these situations, "under the influence of a controlled substance" charges often involve prescription pills like xanax, oxycotin, and valium.

Our Los Angeles DUI Lawyers point out that being "under the influence of a controlled substance" means something different from being "under the influence" in the DUI context.  With DUI, being "under the influence" means that a person cannot drive a car with the ability and caution of a reasonable sober person.  H&S 11550 charges are not so limited or specific.  Rather, they only require you to be "under the influence of a controlled substance... in any detectable manner".  Impairment or other misconduct isn't necessary to prove you guilty of this charge.

As a misdemeanor, being convicted for this charge could impose penalties that include:

  • up to five years of informal probation,
  • 90 days (minimum) to one year in a county jail,
  • drug counseling, and
  • possible community service or labor.

While prosecutors take these charges quite seriously, our Los Angeles DUI Lawyers explain that they can still be persuaded to dismiss them.  We have negotiated this outcome for many non-violent, first-time offenders who willing to enter and complete drug treatment programs.

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DUI cases are rarely hopeless. DUI convictions are almost never inevitable. Clients retain our California DUI defense attorneys for one reason: they want to fight the case. And win.

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The police arrested you for DUI. You gave a blood or a breath sample. The DUI officer confiscated you drivers license. The police released you with a notice to appear in court in a few weeks. Where do you go from here? Our lawyers are here to guide you step by step.