Driving under the influence of drugs, also known as DUI Drugs or drugged driving, is illegal in Florida. Unlike a DUI for having a blood or breath alcohol content of .08%, Florida law does not contain a provision to convict somebody of “per se” drugged driving based on a certain volume of a given drug in their bloodstream. Instead, the prosecution would have to prove drug use combined with impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.
The criminal defense attorneys at Meldon Law have decades of experience defending people charged with DUI as well as drug offenses. With experience drawn from serving as both prosecuting attorneys and public defenders, we use our skills and background to defend people across the state of Florida charged with all manner of misdemeanor and felony offenses.
If you’ve been charged with DUI Drugs in Florida, call Meldon Law for practical advice and zealous defense to get the best result in your case.
How Does the State Prove a DUI Drugs Charge?
Driving under the influence in Florida requires proving you were:
- in actual physical control of a vehicle
- while under the influence of
- alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under Chapter 893,
- when affected to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired.
Section 877.111 refers to over a dozen different chemical substances which can be huffed, sniffed or otherwise inhaled or ingested to give a hallucinatory or distorting effect to the senses (such as nitrous oxide, for example). Chapter 893 on controlled substances, meanwhile, covers hundreds of different illegal drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, etc.) as well as lawful controlled substances such as prescription drugs that could be addictive or potentially abused.
Breath test machines are calibrated to detect alcohol. To detect drugs, law enforcement authorities turn to urine tests. Just as breath tests are mandatory when required by law, drivers are deemed to have given consent to submit to a urine test for the purpose of detecting the presence of chemical substances as set forth in s. 877.111 or controlled substances under Chapter 893.
To be valid, a urine test must be incidental to a lawful arrest and administered at a detention facility or other facility equipped to administer the test in a reasonable manner to ensure the accuracy of the specimen and maintain the privacy of the individual.
Refusing to submit to a required test results in a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first refusal or 18 months based on a prior refusal. A second refusal also counts as a separate misdemeanor charge. Additionally, law enforcement officers are authorized to conduct a forced blood draw in the case of a traffic accident that involves serious bodily injury or death, where impairment is suspected.
How Do You Defend Against a Charge of DUI Drugs?
The prosecution has to be able to prove both a level of drugs in your system and that your driving was impaired because of the drugs. Many drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter allergy medicines, anxiety medications, antidepressants and painkillers, can make you drowsy or slow your reflexes. You could also just be plain tired and make a driving error that gets you pulled over. A test might reveal a quantity of medicine or drugs in your system, but does that fact alone prove that your driving was impaired by the drug?
Police departments have begun taking the step of certifying their officers as “Drug Recognition Experts” to bolster their authority when testifying in front of a jury that a driver was impaired by drugs or that they had probable cause to test. A skilled and knowledgeable defense attorney will look closely at what exactly qualifies the officer as an expert and challenge whether the driver was impaired by drugs or whether probable cause was present.
Your defense attorney might also mount challenges to the drug test itself. It is possible, for instance, that the sample was contaminated or that the testing equipment was not properly maintained.
Refusing to submit to a test can be used as evidence against you in court to imply you must have had drugs in your system or you wouldn’t have refused the test. But some people have “shy bladders” and simply can’t urinate on command. There is a difference between a “refusal to test” and an inability to give a sample that can make all the difference in a DUI Drugs case.
There may be many other defenses or procedural challenges available to suppress evidence, have charges reduced or dropped, or win an acquittal or not guilty verdict. Every case should be independently analyzed by an experienced defense attorney to develop a winning strategy using all available defenses.
Get the Help You Need to Fight DUI Drug Charges in Florida
If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI Drugs in Florida, call Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 to review your case with a team of dedicated and successful DUI defense attorneys who fight for you and won’t back down.