Did you know? DUIs are not Limited to Drinking and Driving says South Florida DUI Attorney
Driving under the influence of drugs can be equally or even more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. Though commonly associated with alcohol, a Florida DUI also applies to drug use.
DUIs, whether alcohol or drugs, endanger the lives of the driver, passengers, and other drivers, yet they produce different effects on the individual. We know that driving under the influence of alcohol is fairly common, but you might be surprised to find out that in 2018, 20.5 million people ages 16 and up drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year; and 12.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs. So for as common as DUIs for alcohol use are… there are more than 50% additional possible cases for DUIs and drug use.
Many people fall under the common misconception that different types of alcohol produce different results.
For example, some people could potentially believe that tequila makes them act crazy while bourbon makes them angry and so on, depending on the person. According to researchers cited in a Business Insider Article, there is in fact “no discernible difference” between different types of alcohol and its effect on a person. This is due to the simple fact that no matter the drink, the active ingredient will ALWAYS be ethanol. What has the most different effect is how much alcohol is in the beverage you’re drinking and how quickly you drink it.
In contrast, specific drugs can impact the brain in a variety of different ways, adding an unprecedented danger.
How can drugs affect your ability to drive?
Marijuana’s effects on driving:
For example, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana “can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination.”
Cocaine Use Effects on driving:
Those under the influence of cocaine can be extremely “aggressive and reckless” when conducting a vehicle.
Driving while Taking Prescription Medicines:
Certain kinds of prescription medications, such as opioids or benzodiazepines, can impair cognitive functions (including but not limited to thought and judgement), and cause drowsiness.
The symptoms and side effects differ with every drug and ingredient, as well as every person. That being said, some drivers tend to consume alcohol and drugs at the same time. Marijuana is a drug commonly mixed with alcohol, causing further impairment which potentially DOUBLES the driver’s risk of crashing.
This creates a difficulty in research because people’s tendency to mix different substances blocks researchers from being able to quantify the effect of mixing substances. Because of this, some states have begun to adopt zero-tolerance laws for drugged driving, while others are waiting for different mechanisms that can allow for better defined impairment levels for people who use drugs, such as the breathalyzer which is used with alcohol.
What about where drugs are legal?
Colorado and Washington’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, has led more and more states to follow suit.
Even in Florida, where medical marijuana was legalized just 5 years ago in 2016, campaigns have been made to pursue a legalization initiative by 2022. According to the chairman of Make it Legal Florida, an organization dedicated to legalizing cannabis in the Sunshine State, Nick Hansen, “over 67% of Florida voters support this initiative”.
The concern is that as previously mentioned, marijuana can gravely impair drivers, so therefore, it can cause more crashes and injuries after its legalization. In 2018, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported that 22.3% of people reported driving within 2-3 hours of marijuana use. THC has been found to stay in the body fluids for days or even weeks after use.
In fact, several studies have shown that drivers with THC in their blood were “twice as likely” to either be responsible for a deadly crash or be killed when compared to those who had consumed neither drugs nor alcohol.
This is important to recognize because time after time, marijuana has been shown to increase the risk of crashing greatly, leading officials to develop programs in order to help.
Florida Drug Recognition Experts
In connection to this, states have begun to implement Drug Recognition Experts (here-in-after DRE), who are law enforcement officers trained to detect drivers under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Florida’s DREs must undergo rigorous courses and are valid for only 2 years. Legalizing marijuana could potentially put more people at risk, causing Florida to be hesitant in legalization. In Colorado, for example, since recreational marijuana was legalized, traffic deaths related to marijuana have increased by 151 percent.
Though Florida penalties for drug DUI are typically the same as their alcohol counterparts, it is important to understand the dangers that come from both and understand how to combat it. Here are some simple steps YOU can take to prevent you, your loved ones, and those on the road from an injury or death.
Offer to be the designated driver
Ask someone else to be the designated driver - or make a plan to hire a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.
Leave your keys & your car at home.
Educate yourself with the risks of drugged driving
Get a ride to and from places where substance consumption is likely.
Rapid-fire Questions & Answers related to Drug DUIs in Florida:
Q: Are the penalties from a drug related DUI different from an alcohol related DUI?
A: They are practically the same, though penalties can differ between the number of offences.
Q: Which drugs are typically linked to drug-influenced driving?
A: After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most commonly found in the blood of those who were involved in a crash.
Q: What if I have THC in my system because I frequently smoke marijuana, but I am not impaired and are pulled over and then tested?
A: Impairment at the brain level is caused by active THC, which can become inactive over time. Though this may be true, any level of active THC in your blood can lead to a DUI - which means marijuna you consumed 1 week ago… could get you a DUI.
Q: Can I go to jail if I am convicted of DUI?
A. If it is a first-time drug DUI offense, jail time is unlikely - but not impossible. But if the second conviction occurs within 5 years of the first offense, jail will be required for at least ten days.
How to Learn More...
To learn more download our FREE booklet: 7 Rules you need to know to survive a Florida DUI. You can also learn about 8 common Florida DUI Myths (debunked by DUI lawyers) here.
Rossen Law Firm also offers FREE DUI Consultations - we go above and beyond a consultation, and actually take the time to listen to your full story and develop and share our strategy of how we'll fight for your rights, freedom & future with you - all in the first meeting.
See what our past clients have to say in our Client Testimonial booklet.
Call the Rossen Law Firm Office to schedule a free consultation:
Fort Lauderdale: (754) 206-6200