As more states legalize marijuana – including renewed efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida – it's important for drivers to understand that such legal efforts have not yet caught up to the technology to test for drivers under the influence of marijuana.
Impaired driving tests for marijuana
When law enforcement officers suspect you've been driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida, they typically administer a series of tests to ascertain whether you are driving impaired. These driving under the influence of drugs tests encompass:
- Chemical tests: These involve blood and urine tests designed to detect the presence of marijuana in your system.
- Field sobriety tests: These assessments include the One-Leg Stand test, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, and the Walk-and-Turn test, which are aimed at evaluating your physical and cognitive abilities.
- Drug recognition experts (DREs): These specially trained police officers conduct more extensive tests and in-depth interviews to assess potential impairment.
Is recreational marijuana legal in Florida?
Currently, marijuana is only legal for medical purposes in Florida. However, there are renewed efforts to legalize recreational marijuana beyond medical marijuana in Florida. Earlier this year, Smart & Safe Florida obtained enough valid signatures for a proposed ballot question regarding the legalization of marijuana, according to Politico.
If the ballot question appears on the ballot, residents in Florida would vote next year on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The proposed ballot question must still be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody before the ballot question can be voted on by residents.
If Florida residents vote in favor of the ballot question, adults over 21 years old would be allowed to use marijuana for personal use and to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana for personal use. Medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since 2016.
What are the penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida?
Impaired drivers who are charged and convicted for driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida face many penalties. According to Florida Statute §316.193, such penalties include:
- First Marijuana Impaired Driving Conviction – Fine of $500 to $1,000, up to six months of jail time, driver's license suspended for six months, and 50 hours of community service.
- Second Marijuana Driving Conviction – Fine of $1,000 to $2,000, up to nine months in jail, mandatory ignition interlock device installation, and driver's license revoked for one year.
- Third Marijuana Impaired Driving Conviction – Fine of $2,000 to $5,000, up to one year in jail, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and driver's license suspended for two years.
Unlike alcohol, there is no specific level of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) concentration in a driver's bloodstream for someone to be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. As a result, if someone has even a small amount of THC in their blood system, they can be charged with DUI of marijuana in Florida.
Legal defenses if charged with driving under the influence of marijuana
There are many reasons drivers should challenge being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida. Legal defenses can include:
- The driver was not under the influence of marijuana at the time of the rest.
- A blood test or urine test is administered wrong.
- Blood test samples or urine test samples are stored improperly.
- The police officer had no legal right or probable cause to stop the driver.
- The officer violated the driver's rights during the course of the arrest.
- The driver has a medical prescription for marijuana and was not impaired at the time of the arrest.
How can a marijuana defense lawyer help?
Despite medical legalization, marijuana remains illegal for most purposes in Florida. At Aguilar & Sieron P.A., attorney Mark Sieron's experience as a former prosecutor provides us with a unique perspective and advantage when it comes to navigating Florida's complex laws. With firsthand knowledge of both sides of the courtroom, we are well-equipped to tackle even the most challenging marijuana cases.
Our commitment to understanding the evolving nuances of Florida's marijuana laws ensures that we can craft effective defense strategies tailored to your specific situation. Whether you're facing charges related to possession, distribution, or impaired driving, we approach each case with the dedication and skill necessary to secure the best possible outcome for you.
Don't simply assume there's nothing you can do if you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida. Contact us and schedule an appointment today at our office in Green Cove Springs, Florida. We proudly represent clients throughout Clay County and Northeast Florida.