The High Road: Florida’s DUI Laws & Marijuana Use

In the Sunshine State, where DUI offenses are treated with utmost seriousness, navigating the complexities of drugged driving can seem like a daunting task. But if you’re facing a DUI charge, all hope is not lost. That’s what we’re here to help with.  


Here, our criminal defense attorneys dive into Florida’s DUI laws for marijuana users and unravel the intricacies that come with defending those accused of drugged driving.  


Join us as we explore how to confront this legal challenge head-on. 



Is Marijuana Use Legal In Florida?  


While the possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes is currently illegal, Florida has taken steps toward legalizing medical marijuana. In 2016, Amendment 2 was passed, allowing qualified patients with specific debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis. 


However, it is vital to note that even with this legalization, strict regulations apply. Patients seeking medical marijuana must have a doctor’s recommendation and obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card. Additionally, only licensed dispensaries are authorized to sell these products. 


Despite the changes in legislation surrounding medical marijuana, it remains crucial to understand that driving under the influence of any substance, including cannabis, is strictly prohibited in Florida.  


Law enforcement officers continue to enforce strict penalties for those found guilty of driving while impaired by marijuana. It is essential for individuals to seek legal counsel if facing such charges because DUI defense strategies unique to Florida can help protect their rights and potentially minimize the consequences they may face. 


What is Drugged Driving?  


While alcohol is typically the substance associated with DUIs, people are often pulled over for driving under the influence of marijuana, AKA “drugged driving.” 


It’s important to note that Marijuana affects different individuals in various ways; some users may experience heightened relaxation and slowed reaction times while others may exhibit increased anxiety or paranoia.  


The main psychoactive compound in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can impair cognitive function and motor skills necessary for safe driving. 


Interestingly, marijuana usage does not relate linearly to impairment levels—it depends on various factors like dosage, how often one uses the drug, and an individual’s tolerance level. 


Getting Pulled Over While High on Marijuana: What to Do 


When you find yourself pulled over for a Florida marijuana DUI, the consequences can be far-reaching and potentially life-altering. In addition to the immediate penalties of license suspension, fines, and potential jail time, there are long-term ramifications that can impact your personal and professional life.  


Impairment Levels  


While alcohol DUI cases rely on a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08%, there is no comparable threshold for marijuana impairment. This makes it more challenging to defend against an accusation of driving under the influence of marijuana.  


Instead, prosecutors typically look at factors such as observed signs of impairment, field sobriety test results, and chemical tests showing the presence of THC in your system. 


Seek Legal Representation 


To build a strong defense against a Florida marijuana DUI charge, it’s essential to seek legal representation from experienced attorneys like Ben Stechschulte who specialize in DUI defense. They will have valuable insights into navigating this complex area of law and may uncover technicalities or flaws in the evidence against you.  


Field Sobriety Tests & Marijuana  


Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are used by law enforcement officers to determine if a driver is impaired due to drugs or alcohol. When it comes to marijuana, however, proving impairment through FSTs becomes more challenging.  



Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test 


This test measures involuntary eye movement. While this test can detect alcohol impairment accurately, it is less reliable for marijuana. THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, has been found to cause nystagmus even when a person is not impaired. This makes it difficult for officers to conclusively link nystagmus solely with marijuana use. 


Walk and Turn Test  


In this test, an individual must take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line while counting out loud before turning around and walking back in the same manner. Impaired individuals tend to struggle with balance and coordination during this test. However, research suggests that regular cannabis users may perform better on these tests due to increased tolerance for the drug’s effects. 


Florida Marijuana DUI Penalties  


Although medical marijuana is legal in Florida, it is still illegal to drive while impaired by any substance. 


  • First Offense: Up to 6 months in jail, fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, license suspension for at least 6 months, and mandatory completion of an alcohol and drug education program. 50 hours of community service and a 10-day vehicle impoundment may also be imposed.  


  • Second Offense: Up to 9 months in jail and fines between $1,000-$2,000. A mandatory ignition interlock will be added and license suspension for 1-5 years. A 1 -year probation period will be imposed as well as 50 hours of community service and a 10-day vehicle impoundment.  


  • Third Offense: Possible felony charges and up to 1 year in jail. A fine between $2,000-$4,000, license suspension between 2-10 years, mandatory ignition interlock device, 50 hours of community service, 1 year of probation, and 90-day vehicle impoundment.  


  • Fourth Offense: Felony charge with up to $5,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison. Your license will be permanently revoked. 50 hours of community service and a 90-day vehicle impoundment will also be imposed.  


Mounting a strong defense against these charges requires the skill of an experienced Florida DUI defense attorney who understands the complexities of marijuana-related cases. 


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Marijuana DUI Defense  


Being charged with a marijuana DUI can have serious consequences, but it is important to remember that you have legal rights and options available to you. If you find yourself facing such charges in the state of Florida or beyond, it is crucial to seek out experienced legal representation.  


At Stechschulte Nell, our skilled and knowledgeable lawyers are dedicated to providing unparalleled defense for those facing marijuana DUI charges. We understand the complexities of these cases and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.  


Don’t face these charges alone—contact us for a FREE DUI case review today.  


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