Data from the Inmate Information Center of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office indicates that nearly half of the arrests made in the Santa Clarita Valley involve alcohol or drug related driving under the influence. Last weekend, for instance, the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s station and the California Highway Patrol made a total of 22 DUI arrests in the Santa Clarita Valley. That is almost half of the 47 people who were booked into jail in Santa Clarita during this time.

These numbers are representative of a broad trend. In July, a survey of arrests in the area showed that roughly half of all arrests in the area were DUI-related. In that month alone, as many as 100 people were taking into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence. Most of last weekend’s DUI charges involved alcohol. However, a spokesman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station says that a significant number of arrests involve medications, including medical marijuana.

It is important to note that California law treats drugged driving as harshly as driving under the influence of alcohol. A traffic sergeant from the Santa Clarita Valley station says many people are arrested for DUI charges after allegedly taking prescription medication.

Most Californians know that the legal limit for alcohol is 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. The laws do not necessarily have a similar standardized counterpart for prescription medications or medical marijuana. Essentially, prosecutors often rely on the judgment of law enforcement in medical marijuana and prescription medication DUI cases in pursuing drug-related DUI charges in California.

DUI charges can carry harsh consequences, ranging from potential jail-time and fines to restrictions that may include an ignition interlock system. Anyone facing allegations of DUI charges in the Los Angeles area should consider speaking with a seasoned DUI defense attorney to learn what DUI defenses may be available in an individual situation.

Source: The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, “Impaired-driver arrests remain high,” Jim Holt, Nov. 17, 2011