Florida is known for its tough drug laws. After all, it hasn’t joined the states that recently legalized marijuana. Instead, Florida considers recreational marijuana a Schedule I drug, which is one of the most dangerous substances as defined by law.
Drug possession alone can lead to serious penalties like jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Drugged driving is even more serious in Florida. In this blog, our criminal defense attorneys at Fletcher & Fletcher, serving St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the surrounding areas, explain more.
Possession of drugs in Clearwater, FL
As mentioned above, Florida is known for strict laws about drug possession. It is illegal to possess any amount of many substances, let alone to have them in your system, or drive while under their influence.
To understand laws about driving under the influence of drugs in Clearwater, you must also know how the law classifies the drugs themselves, and the tiers of penalties for their possession.
Drug schedules in Florida
Drugs are classified by ‘schedules,’ which are the different rankings that show how serious they are in the eyes of the law. A drug’s schedule also determines how serious the penalties are when someone possesses, uses, traffics it, or more.
Florida classifies many of the common controlled substances as follows:
- Schedule I: Heroin, cannabis, cocaine, LSD
- Schedule II: Codeine, morphine, opium
- Schedule III: Testosterone, anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV: Diazepam or tramadol
- Schedule V: Cough suppressants
As you can see, different prescription drugs fall under different schedules, and non-medical marijuana is considered one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in the state of Florida.
Can I get a DUI for driving under the influence of drugs?
Most people know that DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence.’ However, most people tend to associate the criminal offense with alcohol, and they sometimes think it can only be applied to driving while under the influence of alcohol.
On the contrary, you can also be arrested for a DUI while driving under the influence of prescription and nonprescription drugs, including medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana DUI in Florida
The fight for the legalization of medical marijuana began long before the Compassionate Use Act passed in 2014. The Act originally only legalized low-THC cannabis for a small number of diseases.
Now medical marijuana can be prescribed to treat:
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
Since medical marijuana use is now legal in Florida, some might not realize it is still illegal to drive after medical marijuana use.
This is untrue, and someone found guilty of driving under its influence can be penalized with fines between $500 to $1,000, up to six months in jail, and the suspension of driving privileges for up to a year – just like an alcohol DUI.
And those penalties are only for first-time offenses. For repeat offenses, you could be facing much harsher consequences.
Prescription drug DUI in Florida
Like marijuana, it is illegal to drive under the use of other prescription drugs in Clearwater and the state of Florida. Florida Statute 316.293 states “a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she is driving under the influence of any controlled substance to the extent that the person’s normal facilities are impaired.”
Like other DUIs in Florida, the penalties for a prescription drug DUI are as follows:
- First-Offense: Fine between $500–$1,000, mandatory 50 hrs of community service, up to 6 months of jail time, license revocation for 180 days up to 1 year
- Second-Offense: Mandatory 10 days in jail, five-year driver’s license revocation
Third-Offense: Five years in prison, mandatory 10 year driver’s license revocation
How does law enforcement test for driving under the influence of drugs in Florida?
Testing for driving under the influence of drugs can be more difficult than testing for driving under the influence of alcohol. Breathalyzers do not exist for all drugs, and those that do are still in development.
Blood and urine tests are also difficult in these situations, since drugs like THC can stay in the body for much longer than the impairment lasts.
Therefore, a prescription drug or marijuana DUI is often determined when:
- Marijuana or drugs are discovered in the car, or on the driver’s person
- The smell of marijuana or drugs lingers in the vehicle, or on the driver’s person
- The driver blows under the legal limit for alcohol but seems impaired
Like an alcohol DUI, it is unlikely an officer will pull you over with the intent of a DUI arrest. They will more likely pull you over for reckless driving, swerving lanes, running a red light, or other traffic violations. These violations can also be examples of impairment due to drug use.
Contact Fletcher & Fletcher Clearwater Drug Charges Attorneys Today
Florida takes drug charges seriously, but we take our clients seriously too. If you’re facing drug charges, then contact Fletcher & Fletcher in Clearwater, FL for a nonjudgmental, determined drug charges attorney who will fight to defend your freedom. We’ll go to bat for you the way we would want people to do for us.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.