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.