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Hi, if you have no prior convictions you will be eligible for the penal code 1000 program, in which you just have to complete a course of treatment, come back to court in 18 months and have your case dismissed after then (assuming you stay clean and don't pick up any new offenses in that time).
You can call your local public defender's office. I can give you the number for the county you're in, if you let me know what it is.
Health and Safety Code Section 11550 is being under the influence of a controlled substance.
11364 is possession of paraphernalia. (Such as a meth pipe).
Of course both charges wil only be substantiated if you were under the influence of a controlled substance and what they found was parphanelia for using it.
You can still drive since you weren't charged with driving under the influence or any vehicle code section for that matter. (Both are health and safety code sections). It's odd that they didn't charge you with a DUI (although I saw it quite a bit in under the influence 11550 cases, especially those where the person was charged with being on meth), but since they didn't, you don't have anything to worry about as far as driving goes.
Yes, they would know if your license and registration were suspended.
If it was marijuana, that doesn't constitute a violation of 11550 and 11364 (only being under the influence of meth, heroin, or pain killers and other prescription drugs without a prescription constitute violations of 11550) so you should be able to get the charges dismissed.
Also, I'm suprised you weren't charged with a DUI since you blew over a .08, unfortunately you still can be by the D.A., but hopefully they won't revise the charges.
All of these are misdemeanor offenses, but the 11550 and 11364 cases should be dismissed, so the only thing you'll have to worry about is a DUI, and if they only gave you a breathilizer (and not an intoxiliyzer), your public defender should get the tests suppressed, and at most you should maybe have to plead to a wet reckless.
You should plead not guilty. The public defenders in California are pretty good (especially those in Orange County--but I'm biased since that's where I practiced) so you are in good hands with them and don't need a private attorney.
11550(a) is just the subcode of the section. It is in the link above.
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