OC District Attorney funding for DUI Drug cases


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Tag Archives: Drug DUI

OC District Attorney funding for DUI Drug cases

Drug DUI Cases

OC District Attorney funding for DUI Drug cases

A press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) from yesterday (11/16/2017) indicates that the office received money from two grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a DUI Training and Vertical Prosecution Program. The OC District Attorney funding for DUI Drug cases is to fight drug DUI cases all over Orange County.

The OC DA’s office was given $672,500 for the Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecution Program and $594,600 for the California Traffic Safety Resource Program Training Network.

OCDA has been working with OTS Traffic Safety grants and funding to fight driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) cases specifically since 2011.

With the decriminalization of marijuana, California expects to see a rise in the number of drug-impaired driving cases that will be investigated and prosecuted by law enforcement.

In Orange County, the crime lab reported a 40 percent increase in drug-impaired driving submissions from 2015 to 2016.

In 2011, OCDA developed a new system to prosecute DUI drug cases.  That involved a multi-agency collaborative DUID prosecution, investigation and toxicology model which has served as the innovative foundation for the development of a statewide DUID program.

In October 2016, OCDA expanded their training role to the Southern California region, serving as the lead agency in prosecution and law enforcement training.

This includes the delivery of live training, roundtables, training videos, and legal updates.

In 2017, OCDA began to develop a California statewide training program through its administration of the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor (TSRP) and training program.

As part of this process, OCDA has begun to align law enforcement and prosecution agencies throughout the state to create a massive statewide training, resource, and education network. This new responsibility offers agencies throughout the state the opportunity to share expertise in the area of traffic safety as the OCDA works in partnership to proactively investigate and prosecute traffic-related crimes, increasing public safety in all jurisdictions throughout California.

As part of this grant opportunity, OCDA maintains eight vertical DUI-Drug prosecutors assigned throughout the county.

These deputy district attorneys review, file and prosecute all drug-impaired driving cases. Collectively in the 2017 grant year, OCDA prosecutors reviewed 1,060 DUID cases and charged 925 of them. Many of those cases are still pending, but in the 2017 grant year, our vertical prosecutors obtained 522 convictions on DUID vertical prosecution cases.

This year, the eight prosecutors assigned to the program are Deputy District Attorneys Mina Said and Alyssa Staudinger of Central Justice Center, David McMurrin and Dalia Wahab of West Justice Center, Lauren Boyd and Vincent Marinaccio of Harbor Justice Center, and Erin Henry and Stephen Ladsous of North Justice Center.

The Orange County District Attorney’s office realizes that the unique nature of driving under the influence of drug cases, which are rapidly rising in number, requires unique education, training, and handling, hence the specific, specially trained drug DUI prosecutors.  Drug DUI cases also benefit from someone specially educated in Drug DUI handling, like our Orange County DUI Attorney.

Contact our firm for a consultation regarding a drug DUI case today.

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Drug DUI: How long does a drug stay in your system?

Drug DUI: How long is a drug in your system?

For testing purposes, clients often ask how long a specific drug might be in their system, and if it may show up once the test of the client’s blood or urine takes place.

Drug DUI: How long is a drug in your system – The Half Life

The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes the body to eliminate half of the total amount of the drug present in the bloodstream from the body. The term half-life is not synonymous with “duration of effect” which means the length of time that the drug is having its therapeutic effect in the body.

The half life of a medication is the time required for concentrations of the medication to decrease by half; typically serum concentrations. A drug like diazepam has a relatively long half life. Even using the most simplistic pharmacokinetic explanation  ( one compartment zero order elimination ) serum concentration would decrease for example from 20 ng / ml to 10 ng/ml in approximately 40 hours ( using a standard half life value).

I have seen references in the literature to diazepam as having a half-life that ranges from 40 to 100 hours, and references to its “Duration of effect” or “Duration of action” as being approximately 3 hours.

Intoxication / DUI and How Long Drugs Are In Your System

That leads to a few questions about how that might relate into intoxication, for DUI or drunk driving purposes:

1. What is the correlation between half-life and duration of effect for a drug like valium? Why is duration of effect so much shorter than the half-life? For example, if it takes the body 40 hours to eliminate half the amount of diazepam present in the body. why doesn’t valium stay active for at least 40 hours?

2. Are there any authoritative sources for diazepam’s “Duration of effect”?
The duration of effect is the time interval while drug concentrations are at or above the concentration at the site of action needed to produce the effect. So in the example of diazepam, depending on the dose, concentrations in the brain needed to produce a specific magnitude of effect will be dependent on the concentrations of diazepam achieved in the brain and the rate of elimination from the brain. For diazepam, because it is very lipophillic ( fat loving) it redistributes from brain to adipose tissue more quickly than the half life of elimination from plasma, hence the shorter duration of effect.
There are also instances where the duration of effect can be longer than the elimination half life from plasma, for example if a parent drug has a short half life but is metabolized to an active metabolite. The duration of effect can be prolonged by the contribution to the effect by the active metabolite.
So there is not usually a simple relationship between simple pharmacokinetic elimination rate and duration of effect.
These are two great questions at the heart of pharmacology.  The answers are not simple.  As we say to juries, “We are not machine tools.”   In essence, the answers depend on the drug and the subject.  This results in a large number of variations on a theme, even given the same standard dose to a number of very different people.
If you have questions about how long a specific drug stays in the body for DUI purposes, contact our Orange County DUI Attorneys at (877) 568-2977, anytime.

DUI under the influence of Valium

DUI Valium
DUI under the influence of Valium

In Orange County DUI drug (DUID) cases,  especially involving a DUI under the influence of Valium, the Orange County Crime Lab calls experts at trial to testify on doses, levels, effects, and impairment.

Expert witnesses in a DUI case are used on either side whenever someone is accused of driving under the influence of Valium.  The prosecutor’s experts usually take the position that there is no level of Valium that is safe to drive under. If it’s in your blood, they consider that illegal and unsafe, no matter what levels are detected.


Valium is used to treat anxiety, acute alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. It is also used to relieve muscle spasms and to provide sedation before medical procedures. This medication belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA).

Nordiazepam is a metabolite of Valium (the generic is Diazepam). Anyone taking diazepam will have both diazepam and nordiazepam in their blood – not two separate drugs.

Both diazepam and nordiazepam are very long acting.  The half-life of diazepam is between 40-100 hours.  It can be detected up to a week later after a single dose. After chronic usage for months or years, it can be detected for months. A DUI under the influence of Valium can be the result of medications long ago in time.
Sometimes, clients of our law firm don’t even remember taking the valium, because it was so long ago. Our Orange County DUI Lawyer usually asks the following if a test is positive for Valium or its metabolites:
  1. *Did you have any medical or surgical procedures for which you received sedation of any type?” (e.g. colonoscopy, dental work, pain management procedure, MRI/CT scan – these are all procedures where a physician might administer diazepam as a sedative or in combination with anesthesia).  If yes, we find out from the client’s  medical records what medications he or she was administered.
  2.  Aside from the medications that the patient listed, we also ask about any medications client had taken within 4-6 weeks of his or her arrest.
In most cases, if our client had been taking diazepam and stopped a month before his or her arrest, they probably wouldn’t even think to tell us about it.
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Questions about a DUI under the influence of Valium?  Call our Orange County DUI Attorney or contact the firm anytime.  We are happy to help you in any way that we can.