| Read Time: 3 minutes | Scholarship

2018 Legal Scholarship Winner

After carefully evaluating applications from students who represent the top of the student population, we at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law are pleased to announce the winner of our 2018 Legal Scholarship. The $1000 award goes to Nicholas Balenger. Congratulations! The award is based on a number of criteria – short essay, current academic status, school related activities, community activities and other achievement standards. Our 2018 Legal Scholarship Winner! Nicholas Balenger | 1L @ William & Mary Law School Nicholas will attend William & Mary Law School this fall. Prior to being admitted to law school, he attended George Mason University and graduated Magna Cum Laude. When nick was 17 years old, he injured his spine while diving into the ocean leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Ten months after his injury, he achieved his goal of walking across the stage with a walker to receive his high school diploma. Nick’s positive attitude and work ethic during this time would eventually earn him the 2014 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Victory Award, an honor recognizing individuals who demonstrate courage, perseverance, and inspiration in the face of physical adversity. Past recipients of this award include Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Kirk Douglas, and Senators Ted Kennedy Jr. and Bob Dole. Following Nick’s injury, he started giving motivational speeches at events at local elementary and high schools, and eventually was sought out to tell his story in front of thousands of people at gala events, national conferences, and universities. His goal has always been to help others face adversity with a positive attitude and sound work ethic – traits that proved invaluable to him. Nick’s experiences and the people he has met throughout his rehabilitation journey, college education, and work experiences have inspired him to become an attorney so that he could one day help those seeking justice and fairness in the field of disability rights. Nicholas has agreed to share his scholarship essay on firearm restrictions and the second amendment. We encourage all to read it below: Do you feel that all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment? I believe that not all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment. The legal system of the United States is largely derived from the common law system of English law which is a legal system derived from a body of judicial decisions by courts. In this type of system, the law is heavily influenced by the current ethical and societal norms. The ethical and societal norms during the time in which the second amendment was written were such that a right to bear arms was necessary in order to ensure individual safety and deter oppression by state institutions. However, in today’s society many of the reasons behind the creation of the second amendment have become irrelevant and the societal norms surrounding the sale and use of firearms have become a threat to the safety of American citizens.   At the end of the day, the government’s most important responsibility is to protect its citizens. As threats to society evolve, so too should the law which governs that society. In the United States today, there are a number of societal issues such as mental health, political extremism, and individual’s criminal history that requires us to reevaluate our interpretation of the law surrounding the right to bear arms. Previous interpretations of the second amendment which limit our ability to address these issues and better protect our citizens should be abandoned. Instead, the United States should implement an interpretation of the second amendment which is relevant to todays societal and ethical norms and does the best job at ensuring the safety of the American people while also protecting individuals right to bear arms within reason.   Therefore, not all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment because today’s society requires that restrictions be placed on firearms to ensure that the government is able to protect its citizens. Our founding fathers who established this law were unable to foresee the future societal issues that might arise from the universal right to bear arms. It is therefore our responsibility to use our current knowledge and information to implement laws that best protect our safety without completely taking away our rights.           – by Nicholas Balenger  

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

How Domestic Violence Can Creep into Your Relationship

No one enters a relationship expecting it to be violent. Nevertheless, experts caution that about 25% of women and 14% of men will experience at least one occurrence of domestic violence. To protect yourself, you should better understand why abuse happens. It’s All About Control When couples feel comfortable and on equal footing, a relationship can be harmonious. However, one partner sometimes wants to control or dominate the other, often because of insecurity and fear. When abusers see domestic violence as a child, it operates as a powerful lesson that violence is an effective means of obtaining control. Abusers often feel that they are about to lose control, with the following as common triggers: A major life change, such as a pregnancy or death in the family. An abuser can feel neglected and use violence to once again become the focal point of the relationship. Job loss or sudden debt. Financial stress often serves as a trigger to violence. An attempt by the victim to leave. To regain control of the situation, the abuser uses violence. The Cycle of Violence Relationships expert describe domestic violence as a cycle. The cycle begins with rising tension. During this time, the abuser might make threats or insults or commit small acts of violence.  The abuser also tries to control the victim, such as not allowing her to leave or checking her phone to see what messages she has received. Victims often do not take this controlling behavior, and tension builds. When tension reaches a tipping point, a violent explosion takes place. An abuser might use physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse during this phase. The violent phase ends with the abuser apologizing—though still blaming the victim. The honeymoon phase follows, with the abuser becoming apologetic and sometimes romantic. He also will make promises to change. If the victim stays, then even small acts of domestic violence set the stage for more intense violence later on. Why We Don’t Break the Cycle If society did not reward or condone domestic violence, many victims would probably leave after the first violent incident and many abusers would change their behavior. However, domestic violence is normalized in our society: Popular culture glorifies male violence, which is often portrayed heroically. Mass media reinforces that it is normal for men to control women and make all key decisions in a relationship. Mass media also minimizes that women can use violence and makes men afraid of being open about the abuse they suffer. People accept the excuses abusers offer, such as alcohol caused their aggression. Friends and family minimize the violence and look for reasons to blame the victim. If you know someone is being abused, remind them that they are not to blame. Also seek out resources to share that might allow the victim to leave the situation. And if you are the abuser, seek help. It is up to abusers to also break the cycle of violence, not victims. At Moses & Rooth, we practice in the fields of criminal law and domestic violence. If you have a legal issue, we can help. Call 407-377-0150 today or contact us online.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Is America Seeing the “War on Drugs” Differently?

The United States has waged a “War on Drugs” for more than five decades. By most measures, it isn’t going very well. In states like Florida, the sale and use of illegal drugs remain prevalent. And now there is a new crisis in the form of prescription opioid abuse. Given the increasing financial, political, and human cost of treating drug addiction as a law enforcement problem, many prominent figures have started publicly pushing for at least partial legalization of certain drugs. The Push to Legalize (Some) Drugs Gains Political Support In April 2016, a group of more than 1,000 international dignitaries signed a letter to then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to use his position to call for “reform of global drug control policies.” The authors included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Mexican presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and U.S. Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The authors noted that the current war on drugs has “created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.” The authors went on to emphasize the racially discriminatory nature of the drug war, noting that “[t]ens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security.” More recently, on June 28, 2018, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill to remove marijuana as a federally prohibited “controlled substance.” Schumer’s proposal would also provide funds to assist states in expunging and sealing the criminal records of individuals previously convicted of illegal marijuana possession. A similar marijuana legalization bills has also been introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. A number of states have already moved on their own to decriminalize and even permit the sale of marijuana for personal use within their borders. This has created understandable conflict with the federal government, which still considers any use of marijuana–even for medicinal purposes–a crime. But the U.S. will soon face external pressure on its northern border to loosen its marijuana restrictions. On October 17, 2018, Canada’s Cannabis Act takes effect. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government secured approval for legislation that “legalizes and regulates” marijuana. Individual Canadian provinces will still have the authority to set specific rules for cannabis use, including the legal minimum age, how much someone can possess, and where drugs may be purchased. The Drug War Remains in Full Effect in Florida Meanwhile, here in Florida the state is still taking small steps towards legalizing cannabis products for purely medicinal use. It may be sometime before state officials will consider following Canada’s lead and moving towards a legalize-and-regulate system. So you still need to be conscious of the drug war and its potential impacts on your liberties. If you are charged with a drug crime in Florida and need assistance from a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact Moses & Rooth at (407) 377-0150 today.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

How to Get a Job If You Have a Criminal Record

Everyone has a “youthful indiscretion” they would like to forget. Unfortunately, if that indiscretion left you with a criminal record, forgetting may not be so easy. There is a good chance a potential employer will inquire about your criminal history. So what do you do if you were convicted of a crime, and maybe even served some jail time? The Law Regarding Employee Background Checks in Florida First, let’s address how the law works in this area. Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must follow certain procedures before requesting criminal background checks on job applicants. The employer must get your written consent in advance and let you know if you will be disqualified based on a past conviction. Companies that run background checks for employers must also take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of any information they provide employers. For example, if your criminal background report contains false or misleading information–such as reporting an arrest as a conviction–you have the right to dispute the background report and demand remedial action. Also keep in mind that employers who maintain a blanket “no conviction” policy for new hires may run afoul of federal civil rights laws. Although the law does not expressly protect former criminals as a suspect class, the fact that a disproportionate percentage of individuals convicted of crimes–particularly drug crimes–are African-American and Hispanic can give rise to an inference of racial discrimination. On the other hand, Florida law actively encourages employers to conduct criminal background checks. Under Section 768.096 of the Florida Statutes, an employer is generally protected from “negligent hiring” claims if it “conducted a background investigation of the prospective employee and the investigation did not reveal any information that reasonably demonstrated the unsuitability of the prospective employee for the particular work to be performed or for the employment in general.” In other words, if an employer hires an applicant with a criminal record, and the employee subsequent harms a third party, the employer will not be held liable for civil damages. Be Honest and Keep Things in Perspective So what should you do if you have a prior conviction? Obviously, you should never lie. But you also do not need to begin an interview by confessing your past crimes. However, once an employer extends an offer, you should let them know about the facts and circumstances of your record. Remember, the employer is probably going to conduct a background check anyway. It is best to let them know what they’ll find from you rather than wait for the background report to come back. Also note that not all convictions are treated the same. A misdemeanor disorderly conduct offense from 15 years ago is not the same thing as armed robbery committed 5 years ago. Employers are principally concerned about crimes that demonstrate moral turpitude, such as theft or acts of violence. Of course, the best way to deal with a criminal record during your job search is not to have one in the first place. If you are charged with a state or federal crime and need representation from a qualified Orlando criminal defense lawyer, contact Moses & Rooth today at (407) 377-0150.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

“Smiling Mugshot” Woman Charged with DUI Manslaughter

There’s a school of thought that believes smiling in your mugshot following a criminal arrest is a good idea. Public officials charged with crimes sometimes do this as a way of showing defiance or that they consider the charges politically motivated. But even private citizens are known to smile when the police take a mugshot, perhaps because they do not want to “look guilty” or they simply do not think they’ve done anything wrong. The danger of smiling in a mugshot, however, is that it invites negative press coverage–especially if the person is accused of a crime that seriously injured someone else. It’s one thing to smile in the face of a white-collar corruption charge. It’s quite another to look happy when you’re accused of manslaughter. Woman Faces 15 Years for Fatal Ocala Accident One Florida woman is learning this lesson the hard way. She is currently facing a DUI manslaughter charge in a case that drew national attention after she smiled in her initial booking mugshot. The charge arises from a fatal May 18 auto accident in Ocala. According to news reports, the defendant was driving her vehicle through the intersection of U.S. 27 and Northwest 60th Avenue when it rear-ended a Hyundai. The impact was hard enough to force the Hyundai into the back of a third vehicle, a horse trailer. A passenger in the Hyundai, a 60-year-old Ocala woman, died as a result injuries sustained in the accident. According to the arresting officer, the defendant claimed “she dropped her phone” and that caused her to divert her attention from the road, leading to the fatal accident. But the officer said he observed the defendant’s eyes were “glossy” and speech “slurred,” and decided to conduct field sobriety tests. Later, law enforcement reportedly determined the defendant’s blood-alcohol content was 0.172 percent. This is more than twice the legal BAC limit of 0.08 percent. Florida troopers initially charged the defendant with drunk driving that caused “serious bodily injury to another.” This is a third-degree felony under Florida law. But following the victim’s death–and the subsequent public outcry over the defendant’s “smiling mugshot”–prosecutors refiled the charged as DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony that carries a maximum prison term of 15 years. Do Not Smile–But Do Contact an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer The defendant’s attorney attempted to perform damage control with the press regarding the “smiling mugshot.” She insisted her client was “a good-hearted person, a wife, mother and friend who is devastated by what happened.” Not surprisingly, the victim’s family was not feeling charitable. The victim’s daughter, who was also injured in the accident, told the media the defendant “needs to rot in hell.” Such sentiments are perfectly understandable. But they also have no legal bearing on the defendant’s guilt or innocence. While smiling mugshots may inflame victims and the media, they are not a substitute for evidence. That said, if you are arrested and charged with DUI or another serious crime, it is in your own best interest to treat the matter seriously and somberly. Do not worry about looking good in your mugshot. Instead, contact a qualified Orlando DUI manslaughter defense attorney who can help keep you out of jail. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150, if you have been arrested and need immediate legal assistance.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Deadly Orlando Standoff Ends with 4 Children Killed, Officer in Critical Condition

It is well known that domestic violence is a serious problem in central Florida. Area police frequently cite domestic violence calls as among the most dangerous situations they must respond to. Sadly, recent events have only brought this danger to home for residents of Orlando. On the evening of June 10, police officers responded to a domestic violence call in southwest Orlando. Specifically, a woman reported she was being battered and fled her apartment to a nearby restaurant. Orlando Police Department officers then went to the woman’s apartment to confront the suspected abuser, 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey, Jr. But when police arrived, a shootout ensued, seriously wounding OPD Officer Kevin Valencia. The officer subsequently required emergency surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center, followed by extensive treatment at a spinal cord and brain-injury rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. As of a June 28 report, Officer Valencia was “responsive” but “remains in a coma.” Unfortunately, Officer Valencia’s injuries were not the most serious. After a 24-hour standoff, an OPD SWAT team entered the apartment, where they found the suspect, Lindsey, and four children dead. According to OPD Chief John Mina, Lindsey shot and killed the children–who ranged in age from 1 to 11– before turning his gun on himself. Two of the children were reportedly Lindsey’s, while the other two belonged to the woman who made the initial domestic violence report. Suspect Owned Multiple Firearms Despite Felony Conviction, Probation Requirements In the aftermath of this incident, news reports focused on Lindsey’s prior criminal record. The Orlando Sentinel reported that at the time of his death, Lindsey was serving a 35-year probation term arising from a 2010 arson arrest. More precisely, the Sentinel said Lindsey “was accused of trying to burn down a house in Orange City during a domestic argument.” During the course of his probation, Lindsey was “reported for four violations,” including a 2012 domestic violence arrest–involving the same accuser as the June 10 report–where the charges “were later dropped.” And following a May 4, 2018, arrest for grand theft, a judge “reluctantly agreed to release Lindsey back to supervision after his sister agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution on his behalf.” Although the terms of Lindsey’s probation prevented him from owning firearms, he had two rifles, two shotguns, and a handgun in his possession, according to Chief Mina, who said the weapons were gifts from Lindsey’s father. Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Charges It is important to note that cases like this are an outlier. Most domestic violence cases in Florida do not end in deadly shootings. More commonly, domestic violence charges are the result of verbal fights or minor altercations where nobody is seriously injured. Nevertheless, you should take any domestic violence accusation seriously. An experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney can assist you in preparing a defense to any domestic violence charge. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 531-8694, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Avoid Being Arrested for these Common 4th of July Crimes

The Fourth of July is a time for celebration. Of course, the first Independence Day was a tumultuous time for the nation’s founders–they were literally facing treason charges from the British Crown. Fortunately, few Orlando residents will find themselves in that kind of legal trouble today. But there are other more ordinary crimes that can lead to your arrest during the extended holiday. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you head out to your July 4th celebration this year: Minor in possession of alcohol. With schools and colleges out for the summer, many teenagers will try and take advantage of the holiday to consume beer or other alcoholic beverages with their friends. While the United States may have been founded on the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that does not cover underage drinking. It is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida for anyone under the age of 21 to possess alcohol. Driving under the influence (DUI). The Orlando area is frequently jammed with people visiting local theme parks and other attractions over the 4th of July holiday. Combined with the local celebrations–many of which involve the consumption of alcohol, legal or otherwise–this usually means a significant increase in drunk driving. For a first-time offender, a DUI can lead to up to six months in jail and a 1-year suspension of driving privileges. Breach of the peace. Section 877.03 of the Florida Statutes broadly prohibits acts that “corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” Generally speaking, this means it is a misdemeanor “breach of the peace” to engage in public fighting or engage in other kinds of disruptive behavior. Sometimes the broad language of the law can lead to comical results. For example, on 4th of July in 2015, Neptune Beach police arrested 22-year-old Lane Pittman for “breach of the peace” because he was playing the national anthem too loudly on a public sidewalk. Disorderly intoxication. Having a couple of drinks to celebrate the holiday is fine (assuming you’re at least 21 years old). But it is a misdemeanor under Florida law to be “intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property.” This is known as “disorderly intoxication,” and it also applies to cases where a person is drinking in a public place or conveyance (such as a bus or train) and causes a “disturbance.” Stay Safe This Holiday–and Call Our Dedicated Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys if You Need Help The best way to keep out of legal trouble this Independence Day is to attend an organized public celebration. The City of Orlando will host its annual “Fireworks at the Fountain” starting at 4 p.m. The University of Florida in Gainesville will have its own Fanfares & Fireworks show at Flavet Field from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 3rd. And Walt Disney World has its “Celebrate America” concerts planned for July 3 and July 4 starting at 9:15 p.m. each evening. Whatever you choose to do this 4th of July, stay safe. And if you are arrested for some reason and need advice on what to do from an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer, contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Signs Your Neighbor May be Involved in Manufacturing or Selling Drugs

It’s not exactly news to point out the Orlando area has a problem with drug dealers and illegal drug manufacturers. Indeed, many drug operations work inconspicuously out of residential homes. Perhaps you suspect there is a dealer or producer in your own neighborhood. Here are a few common signs, based on advice from law enforcement, that may indicate your neighbor is involved with the drug trade. There’s an unusual amount of foot traffic in and out of the house. Lots of people run (legal) small businesses out of their homes. But if you notice a large amount of people coming and going from a house, particularly at night or outside of normal business hours, that suggests there may be something fishy going on. Take note if there are a lot of strangers–i.e., people who don’t live in the neighborhood–paying quick visits, making deliveries, and exchanging small items for cash. Your neighbors appear to be financially successful despite not having jobs. If you live in a run-of-the-mill, middle-class neighborhood, it won’t escape notice if someone moves in and owns a flashy car or a big-screen television. In and of itself, this is not cause for alarm. But if your new neighbors do not appear to have jobs or any obvious source of income, that may suggest something more sinister. The house itself does not look or smell right. If you smell noxious or musty odors coming from a house, that could suggest the presence of a meth lab. Additional visual cues include blacked-out windows (even during the day) and unusually high fences or similar security measures that seem out of place for the neighborhood. You notice drug paraphernalia in the area. Drug dealers–and their customers–are not always neat. If you find syringes or small plastic bags littering the area, that’s a good indication there’s at least drug use in the area. Also take note if there are a high number of chemical containers in your neighbor’s trash, such as paint thinner, antifreeze, and drain cleaner. All of these items are used in the production of meth. Should I Call the Police? Of course, suspicion is not evidence. And many people are understandably reluctant to contact the police based on nothing more than a hunch and some unusual activity. So what should you do if you suspect drug activity? One step you can take is to check and see if your neighbors have a criminal record. Arrests and convictions are a matter of public record. And there are a number of online services that allow you to conduct a more comprehensive criminal background check. But above all else, never attempt to confront someone if you suspect they are manufacturing or selling drugs. If you honestly believe there is a problem, you should contact the local police or sheriff’s office and let them look into it. Do not take the law into your own hands. Have You Been Falsely Accused of Making or Selling Drugs? On the other side of the fence, many Orlando-area residents find themselves the target of false and unsubstantiated drug charges. If you are arrested and charged with possession or distribution, you need to contact an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Why Domestic Violence First Responders and Florida Gun Laws Clash

For Orlando-area police officers, domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous situations they face. What starts out as a verbal argument between two people quickly escalates into threats of physical violence. And when one of the parties has a gun, these threats may turn into deadly action–exposing not only the other person but any law enforcement first responders who arrive at the scene. Post-Stoneman Douglas Laws Will Likely Affect Domestic Violence Cases Domestic violence is usually not a one-time occurrence. Police often find themselves responding to multiple calls from the same household over a period of weeks or months. This can significantly elevate the risk to law enforcement, as they know they are responding to a decaying domestic situation with a growing potential for violence. For police, the key to ensuring a safe resolution is restricting the availability of firearms to the people inside the house–especially if one of the occupants has a documented history of domestic violence. Historically, this was easier said than done, as the victim had to first obtain an order of protection against domestic violence. Such orders typically require the subject to surrender any firearms he or she owns to the police. But in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School mass murder on February 14, the Florida legislature passed new legislation designed to further restrict access to firearms by individuals who are judged to be a risk to the public. Under the new law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on March 9, a law enforcement officer may directly petition a Florida circuit court judge for a “risk protection order” against any individual who “poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control.” Once the officer files the petition, the court must hold a hearing within 14 days. In the interim, the judge can issue a temporary “ex parte” order immediately suspending the subject’s right to own or possess firearms. Following the hearing, the court can issue a final risk protection order if the state demonstrates by “clear and convincing evidence” that the subject does in fact pose a danger to the community. Note this standard is less rigorous than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases, but more stringent than the civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” An Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Make Sure the Courts Respect Your Rights While Florida legislators acted in response to a horrific school shooting, the availability of risk protection orders will also prove beneficial to police looking to confront individuals suspected of domestic violence. A risk protection order does not require any action on the part of an accuser or victim, since law enforcement may now directly apply for an order to disarm someone deemed a threat to themselves or others. At the same time, this may open the judicial system to abuses, as individuals subject to risk protection orders may not receive adequate due process before their rights are restricted. This is why it is always a good idea to work with an experienced Orlando domestic violence attorney who understands the law in this area and can advise you on how to best assert your rights in court. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | DUI

State of Florida Launches $5M Ad Campaign to Warn Against “Driving Baked”

Although marijuana has gained greater social acceptance in recent years–particularly as a medicinal drug–it remains a dangerous controlled substance under federal and state law. And while Florida voters approved the limited manufacture and use of medicinal cannabis as part of a statewide constitutional amendment, that does not mean you can simply smoke a joint in public whenever you feel like it. To the contrary, it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public–or to drive a car while under the influence of any cannabis-containing product. Raising Awareness of Impaired Driving Laws “Driving baked” may not get as much attention as traditional drunk driving. But according to Florida law, a person is just as guilty of a DUI if they are under the influence of a “controlled substance…when affected to the extent that a person’s normal faculties are impaired.” This means that you can be charged with DUI if police officers have proof that you are “driving baked” or even simply impaired because you took too much cold medicine. As part of the implementation of the medical cannabis constitutional amendment, the Florida Legislature directed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to implement a “statewide impaired driving education campaign to raise awareness and prevent marijuana-related and cannabis-related impaired driving.” The Legislature set aside $5 million in Florida’s 2018 budget specifically for this education campaign. The campaign itself includes conducting surveys to evaluate “awareness” of Florida laws related to impaired driving, as well as traditional mass-media advertising. With respect to the latter, the Department released its first television ad in April 2018. The 30-second commercial, narrated by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, reminds drivers to think about their fellow passengers, other motorists, and bicyclists before getting behind the wheel while impaired. The ad ends with the Trooper warning drivers, “You’ll answer to us. Drive baked, get busted.” According to a January 2018 report prepared in connection with the launch of the campaign, the priority for these ads is to “make clear and direct links to the negative consequences for marijuana-impaired driving in a memorable and conversational way to create true behavior change.” The report noted the target audience for the ads includes younger drivers between the ages of 18-34. The Department also plans to conduct follow-up surveys beginning in July to assess overall statewide awareness of impaired driving laws as they relate to marijuana and cannabis. Get Help with a Drug-Related DUI Charge in Orlando Drug-impaired driving cases are often much more complicated than traditional DUI, since law enforcement cannot simply rely on a breath-analysis to determine impairment. So if you are pulled over by a DHP trooper or an Orlando police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, remember you have the right to remain silent and speak with a qualified Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Call Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 to speak with a DUI lawyer today.  

Continue Reading