Decades of public relations campaigns have called attention to the dangers of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, but it is important to remember that the Florida Statute under which alleged offenders are charged with DUI also prohibits operating motor vehicles while under the influence of a controlled substance. One of the most common drugs involved in most driving under the influence of drugs (DUID or frequently referred to simply as "drugged driving") offenses is cannabis.
More commonly known as marijuana, pot, or weed, the Mayo Clinic has stated that cannabis has some of the longest approximate detection times of any controlled substance. A person could test positive for marijuana three days after a single use, while a "chronic user" of cannabis may test positive up to 30 days after his or her last consumption.
In short, one of the issues with testing a person testing for marijuana during a DUI stop is that the accused may not have necessarily been under the influence of marijuana when he or she was driving.
Were you arrested in South Florida for a DUI offense based on you allegedly being under the influence of cannabis? You should avoid making any statement to authorities until you have first contacted Meltzer & Bell, P.A..
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale who defend clients accused of drunk and drugged driving crimes in Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, and many surrounding areas of Broward County.
You can have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (954) 716-8538 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Florida Statute § 316.193 establishes that a person commits a DUI offense when he or she is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within Florida and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in Florida Statute § 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893.
The statute is specifically applicable to a person when the substance affects him or her to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. Cannabis is considered a Schedule I controlled substance under the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.
"Normal faculties" are defined by Florida Statute § 316.1934 as including—but not being limited to—the ability to see, hear, talk, walk, make judgments, and normally perform general mental and physical activities of daily life. Florida does not have a roadside breath test for marijuana, so police officers will usually have alleged offenders submit to blood or urine tests when they suspect drivers are under the influence of any controlled substance.
When traditional tests indicate that alleged offenders are not intoxicated by alcoholic beverages, officers may summon for the assistance of a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE is a police officer trained to determine whether an alleged offender is under the influence of a controlled substance as well as the type of controlled substance that the alleged offender might have used.
Again, a key point of contention in marijuana DUI cases is whether the drug was actually active at the time of the alleged offense. It can be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt, which may lead to criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.
In general, a cannabis-related DUI conviction carries many of the same consequences as an alcohol-related offense. Convictions are punishable as follows, depending on the number of times an alleged offender has been previously convicted of DUI:
An alleged offender can also still face enhanced penalties for marijuana DUI offenses when he or she at the time of the alleged offense was accompanied in the vehicle by a person under the age of 18 years. In such cases, first convictions become punishable by up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 and second convictions are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Review of Biologic Matrices (Urine, Blood, Hair) as Indicators of Recent or Ongoing Cannabis Use — View the full text of a study published in the April 2006 issue of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, the peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal directed to an audience of pharmacologists, clinical chemists, laboratorians, pharmacists, drug researchers and toxicologists. The study notes that "urine analysis seems to be a useful tool" for confirmation of abstinence, but blood analysis is "preferred for the interpretation of acute effects after cannabis abuse." The study also states, "In contrast to other illicit drugs, hair analysis lacks the sensitivity to act as a detector for cannabinoids."
Impaired Driving And Cannabis | AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety — The AAA Foundation for traffic safety commissioned a handful of studies to examine the effects of marijuana on driving and driving safety shown in statistical data. One of the two main findings that AAA claims stood out was, "Legal limits, also known as per se limits, for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science." The website allows you to the full text of such studies as An Evaluation of Data from Drivers Arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Relation to Per se Limits for Cannabis, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Marijuana: Beliefs and Behaviors, United States, 2013-2015, and Overview of Major Issues Regarding the Impacts of Alcohol and Marijuana on Driving.
If you were arrested for an alleged cannabis DUI offense in Broward County, consider retaining legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents residents and visitors in communities throughout South Florida, such as Weston, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate, Wilton Manors, and many others.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell will fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that involves the fewest possible penalties.
Call (954) 716-8538 or complete an online contact form to have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.
Click here to learn what Meltzer & Bell can do for you regarding your DUI by visiting our traffic department.