Prescription Drugged Driving in Florida
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise to the point that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention classified it as an epidemic. Even for prescription drug users that take their medications as prescribed, medication use does not mix well with driving. A person can be charged with driving under the influence even when taking drugs they are lawfully permitted to take, or when they have taken even comparatively small quantities. “Drugged driving” was attributed as the cause of 298 car crashes in Florida thus far in 2015.
It is unlawful to take medications that are not prescribed to you. It is also unlawful to drive on public roadways when you are under the influence of anything that may affect your perception, reflexes, focus, ability to pay attention, or anything that alters your state of mind. This can include medications that are prescribed to you; these bottles have warnings for a reason.
A first drugged driving conviction in Florida can land a person between $500-$1000 in fines and a jail sentence of up to six months. Second offenses come with higher associated fines and up to nine months in jail. A third drugged DUI is punishable by 12 months jail and a $2,000 fine. Subsequent drugged driving offenses committed within a certain time frame will put a felony on the offender’s record, further increasing both the fine and jail time. After the first offense, the offender is no longer eligible for diversion programs.
Differences in Convicting for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Charges
Unlike alcohol, which can be readily tested by breathalyzers in the field, drugs are more difficult to detect. This fact makes drugged driving cases much more difficult for prosecutors to successfully bring in a court of law. Blood and Urine tests are often used to determine the presence of drugs in the system. Although field sobriety tests can be used to monitor state of mind, the chemical presence of drugs can be difficult for officers to ascertain. A more experienced DUI officer may be certified as a Drug recognition expert (DRE) which allows him to testify as to the results from a test to help determine if under the influence of drugs. This test used is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test.
Drugs and alcohol differ in how they are processed in the body; a positive drug test through urine analysis does not alone definitively prove that a person was under the influence of drugs at the time they were taken into custody. Moreover, police officers have very specific rules they must follow when administering field sobriety tests; even a small deviation from protocol may work in your favor in court.
Orlando Prescription Drug DUI Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys on your side. All of our attorneys at Moses & Rooth are former prosecutors that know how to navigate these kinds of cases and ensure the police treated you fairly when you were arrested. We know the common weaknesses in prosecutor’s cases in drugged and drunk driving matters and will work hard on your behalf to ensure the most favorable outcome possible given your set of circumstances. If you or anyone you know has questions about your rights when you are pulled over or if you have been charged with a drugged or drunk driving offense in Florida, contact our Orlando office today.