Representing Clients Facing Drugged Driving Charges in Ft. Lauderdale
Many people associate driving under the influence (DUI) offenses with drunk drivers who have had too much alcohol. However, the DUI law in Florida also applies to drivers who are under the influence of drugs. This can include any illegal drugs, as well as prescription drugs that impair a person’s faculties. Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is a serious offense and can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your prior convictions. DUID charges also often come in conjunction with drug possession charges.
Florida authorities are known for being tough on drug enforcement, and prosecutors will often seek the maximum sentence for a DUID conviction. This can include jail time, fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license. A DUID conviction can disrupt your life in many ways, but you should always remember that a conviction is not inevitable. You have the right to legal representation to defend against your charges, and you should always fully exercise this right.
The defense attorneys at Meldon Law have defended against many types of DUI charges, including those involving both illegal and prescription drugs. If you have been arrested or have already been charged with DUID, you should call our office as soon as possible. We can discuss the many ways we may be able to help you avoid serious drug-related convictions.
Drugs Commonly Involved in DUID Cases
There are many drugs that can impair a person’s driving ability and authorities associate specific effects with certain drugs. The following are drugs that are often cited in DUID complaints:
- Heroin or morphine
- LSD or mushrooms
- Sleeping pills
- Opioid pain relievers
Some of the above drugs may be taken with a valid prescription or even purchased over the counter. In addition, people may have permission to take medical marijuana, however, they can still get arrested for DUID if an officer believes that they are impaired. Police officers and prosecutors do not hesitate to pursue DUID charges even if a person legally possessed and took a certain substance. The legality of the possession and use is not an issue in this type of case – only that your driving was impaired by the substance.
That being said, if your suspected impairment came from an illegal substance, it is likely that police officers will want to search your person or your vehicle to find the drugs in question. If officers find a controlled substance, you may also face possession charges, which can result in additional penalties that may be substantially more serious.
Challenging Drug Impairment
When it comes to DUI cases involving alcohol, there is a clear legal limit and a blood alcohol content (BAC) above that limit creates a presumption of impairment. A driver’s BAC can be easily tested at a roadside traffic stop through breathalyzer tests, often giving the officer concrete probable cause to make a DUI arrest.
On the other hand, measuring a driver’s drug impairment is not so simple. There is no legal limit for drugs that determines under the law when a driver is impaired or not. Different drugs can have different effects, and these effects can vary widely from person to person and depending on a particular batch of the substance. For this reason, it can be difficult for officers to determine whether a specific driver is impaired or not solely based on the suspicion they had used drugs.
If police arrest someone on suspicion of DUID, they can perform a blood test to see if the driver had drugs in their system. Prosecutors may offer blood test results as evidence of impairment, though there are many ways to challenge this notion. First, because of differences in individual tolerances, the same amount of drugs may cause impairment in one person and not in another. Therefore, no single threshold can be used to prove impairment. In addition, some drugs can stay in your system for days or weeks. For example, a heavy marijuana user may have cannabis in their blood even though they had not used the drug in a few days. Such blood tests cannot always prove that the defendant used drugs prior to driving, as it could have been hours or days ago. These are only some of the arguments a skilled defense attorney can make to challenge the premise that a driver was impaired.
Forensic labs can also make errors when processing blood samples. The samples can be mislabeled, handled by unqualified employees, stored improperly, tested by malfunctioning equipment, and more. If there was a delay in testing, a break in the chain of custody, or any other issues identified in the testing process, a defense lawyer can argue that the blood test results should be kept out of court.
If a drug possession charge accompanies DUID allegations, an attorney can develop an effective defense against those charges, as well. Such defenses can include that the drugs were obtained in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, that you did not know about the drugs, and more.
DUID and drug possession cases are serious matters and you should always realize the potential effects on your future. Drug-related convictions can limit your future educational and job prospects, including ineligibility for federal funding or certain professional licenses. If you are convicted of one DUI, it will increase the potential consequences if you are later charged again. For all of these reasons, you need a qualified defense firm that knows how to avoid a conviction whenever it is possible.
Call Our Ft. Lauderdale DUI Defense Law Firm to Discuss Your Case Today
If you are arrested for DUID in Ft. Lauderdale, remember you have the right to remain silent and to call an attorney. You should avoid answering police questions and should call Meldon Law as soon as you can. We handle a wide variety of DUI and criminal defense cases, so call (954) 334-1276 or contact our office online to get started working on your defense.