In addition to prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI), drugged driving in Florida, or driving while under the influence of drugs, is also prohibited. The penalties for drugged driving in Florida are similar to those for a DUI for alcohol; however, there are some key distinctions that Florida drivers should be aware of.
A driver can be convicted of drugged driving in Florida for being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of “harmful chemicals” or “controlled substances.” Fla. Stat. Ann §316.193.
Similar to a physical control charge for alcohol, being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs means that the driver is in the vehicle and has the capability to operate it. This means that you can be convicted of drugged driving in Florida even if you are not actually driving the vehicle.
In Florida, a driver is “under the influence” if, as a result of taking drugs, the driver’s “normal faculties are impaired.” This means that the drugs must have impacted the driver’s physical or mental capacities in a significant way.
Importantly, this also means that you can be charged with and convicted of drugged driving in Florida if you are under the influence of marijuana, other recreational drugs, and even prescription drugs.
Unlike other states, to convict you of drugged driving in Florida the prosecutor must show more than simply that there were drugs in your system. The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver was actually under the influence of drug in a way that impaired the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Shaw v. State, 783 So.2d 1097 (2001); Sabree v. State, 978 So.2d 840 (2008).
You can also be charged with and convicted of drugged driving in Florida if you are under the influence of prescription medication or over-the-counter medications if these substances impair your faculties in a way that limits your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Most people understand that you can be convicted of drugged driving in Florida if you are under the influence of a recreational drug like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.
What many people don’t realize is that you can also be convicted of drugged driving in Florida if you are under the influence of prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs. This includes prescription medications, even if they are taken in accordance with a doctor’s instructions, as well as over-the-counter medications. In particular, drugs that are taken for anxiety or allergies can make a person drowsy and impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
If you take prescription medications, it’s important to read the warnings. Many prescription drugs will indicate that the substance may impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, and that you should not operate such machinery until you know how the drug will affect you.
In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI for alcohol if your BAC is above .08%. This is sometimes known as the per se legal limit. Unlike alcohol, Florida does not have a per se limit for driving under the influence of drugs. This means that anyone, with any amount of drugs in their system, is at risk of a drug DUI, even if they are under the influence of a legally prescribed medication.
The Florida drugged driving statute specifically references “harmful chemicals” and “controlled substances.”
Harmful chemicals include nitrous oxide, isopropyl alcohol, and other chemicals such as acetone and toluene that recreational drug users inhale to get high (“huffing”).
Florida’s list of controlled substances includes:
Common examples of Florida controlled substances include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.
Penalties for drugged driving in Florida are similar to the penalties for DUI while under the influence of alcohol. The consequences depend on the specific nature of the offense, but generally include:
If you have been charged with drugged driving in Florida, a skilled and experienced Florida DUI defense attorney can successfully challenge the evidence against you. Because DUI cases involving drugs have additional complications, it’s important that you work with a Florida DUI defense attorney who has experienced defending cases of drugged driving in Florida.
As a former prosecutor, I know how the system works, and can use my skill and experience to help reduce the charges against you, or even have your DUI case dismissed.
Based in Leesburg, the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher defends people throughout central-Florida who have been charged with drug related DUIs. Contact me today by calling 352-241-0391, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.