Florida Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Florida’s DUI laws prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol as well as drugs. People often forget or don’t realize that DUI encompasses both illegal drugs and drugs that are obtained with a valid prescription. In other words, if your ability to drive is impaired, it does not matter whether it is due to alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs for purposes of being charged under Florida’s DUI laws.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Florida

Florida’s DUI law is much more specific when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol as compared to driving under the influence of drugs. As it pertains to alcohol, Florida’s DUI law provides that it is a crime to drive if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.8% or higher. However, Florida’s DUI law does not provide an exact unit of measure for driving under the influence of drugs. Rather, if drugs are the culprit in your DUI case, the prosecutor must show that your drug use impaired your ability to drive.

Defenses to Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Florida

It can be difficult for a prosecutor to prove that your driving was impaired by drug use. That’s because the evidence in a DUI drug case usually consists of circumstantial evidence rather than direct evidence. There is no equivalent to a breathalyzer machine to measure the level of drugs in a person’s system. Even though a blood test or a urine test can identify drugs in a person’s system, these tests do not differentiate between active and inactive drugs. Instead, police and prosecutors must rely primarily upon field sobriety tests and the police officer’s observations of a person’s demeanor and behavior at the time of the arrest to prove a DUI drug case.

Because a DUI drug case is based largely upon circumstantial evidence, you may have a number of defenses. Typically, a prosecutor will offer a police officer’s observations of your bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and incoherence as proof of drug use. However, these conditions can also be caused by a valid medical condition or physical limitation. Additionally, your performance of field sobriety tests—especially the one-leg stand test and the walk-and-turn test—can be impacted by a valid medical condition or physical limitation. The same is true for the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.