Articles Posted in DUI

Have you been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida even though your breath alcohol content (BAC) was less than 0.08?  If so, you’re probably wondering how you could still be arrested, given the “legal limit” of 0.08.  The answer is below.

Under Florida law, the State has to prove one of two things in your case to convict you of DUI.  First, the State must prove that while you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent your “normal faculties” were impaired.  Normal faculties include but are not limited to the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.

Alternatively, to convict you of DUI the State must prove while you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle you had a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. A BAC of 0.08 or higher results in a conclusive presumption you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent your normal faculties were impaired.  That is the primary reason most attorneys recommend not consenting to a breath test if there is any question about your BAC.

So if you blew less than 0.08, how can you still be subject to a charge of DUI?  It’s because of certain presumptions about BAC ranges and how juries can consider other evidence of impairment in addition to your BAC.  Continue reading

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Have you been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana?  If so, depending on the facts of your particular case, it may be possible to have your charges reduced or even outright dropped.  This is because the State’s burden of proving you were actually impaired by marijuana, as opposed to having merely used it, is far more complicated than showing you were impaired from the use of alcohol in the typical DUI case.

Florida legalized the use of marijuana for certain medical purposes in 2016. However, while the state has legalized marijuana for medical use, it continues to be illegal for recreational use.  And, regardless of whether you have a medical prescription for marijuana or you use marijuana for recreational purposes, you can be charged with DUI of marijuana if you have any amount of cannabis in your system. Further, when it comes to DUIs, Florida law doesn’t use terms like ‘driving drunk” or “driving high.” Instead, Florida makes it illegal for you to drive under the influence of a substance to the extent your “normal faculties” are impaired whether that substance is alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs or a combination of these substances.

The critical difference between an alcohol DUI case and a marijuana DUI case is that THC, the chemical responsible for producing the marijuana “high”, can remain in your system for a long time after it is no longer psychoactive and therefore not having any effect on you. For example, if you smoke marijuana, the “high” generally peaks after about 10 minutes and lasts only from about 1 to 3 hours.  Nonetheless, even though you are no longer “high”, you can have a positive THC test several hours, days or even weeks after you used marijuana.  And that positive test will used by the State in an attempt to prove you were DUI of marijuana even though its effects had long worn off. Continue reading

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in Florida.  The offense is proved by impairment of “normal faculties” by drugs or alcohol and/or by an unlawful breath or blood alcohol level of 0.08 or above.  Impairment of normal faculties by alcohol can be determined by testing blood, breath or urine.  But it is much more difficult to determine impairment of normal faculties by marijuana or other drugs.

Currently in Florida, there is no definitive way, like a blood or breath test, to determine marijuana intoxication.  Rather, the only way to determine whether someone’s normal faculties are impaired by marijuana is to assess whether they possess their normal faculties. Normal faculties includes the ability to perform the many mental and physical activities of daily life, such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, driving and making judgments. Normal faculties are normally assessed in Florida DUI cases via the administration of roadside tests known as field sobriety exercises (FSEs).

In addition to administering FSEs, officers commonly note certain physical observations such as blood shot, watery eyes, pupil dilation, facial flushing, and speech slurring to bolster their conclusion someone’s normal faculties are impaired.  And, in some marijuana-based DUI cases, officers across the United States are alleging that people who’ve recently smoked marijuana have green tongues. In fact, law enforcement officers are instructed to look for a “possible green coating” in one world-wide specialized training program. Continue reading

Most driving under the influence (DUI) cases begin the same way.  You’re pulled over by the police for a traffic infraction such as speeding, failing to maintain a single lane or for a license tag or tail light violation.  The officer approaches your car and asks for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card.

The officer then notes you purportedly have bloodshot, watery eyes and the odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath.  But you haven’t had anything to drink, or if you did, it wasn’t enough to make you impaired.

You’re then asked to perform some roadside sobriety exercises.  Feeling confident, you agree.  Despite doing pretty well, however, the officer says you failed.  You’re then handcuffed and taken to jail.  At the jail you agree to take a breath test.  To your surprise, your result is above the legal limit of 0.08.  Case closed, right?  Not so fast! Continue reading

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Your medical history can often be used to obtain reduced charges, or even dismissal of your DUI case.  A case from Washington State recently reported in USA Today provides a classic example of how your medical history can be highly relevant to your DUI case.

The incident began when Carol Carlson drove her car to a local ferry terminal.  Ms. Carlson appeared confused according to the toll both attendant and other ferry workers.  She then ran over a curb and drove the wrong way on a one-way street.

When confronted by a trooper, Ms. Carlson allegedly stated she’d had two glasses of wine.  The trooper reported Ms. Carlson’s eyes to be bloodshot and her breath to have an odor of alcohol.  The trooper then asked her to perform field sobriety exercises.  Ms. Carlson performed poorly according to the officer.  Continue reading

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants that affect the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain.  SSRIs are often the first choice of health care providers for the treatment of depression and anxiety.  That class of medicines affect a chemical imbalance in the brain of people suffering from anxiety and other disorders.  The SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), fluvoxamine CR (Luvox CR), paroxetine (Paxil), paroxetine CR (Paxil CR), and sertraline (Zoloft).

According to statistics, SSRIs and other antidepressants have been prescribed with greater frequency over the last several years.  The use of these drugs in the United States is approximately three times that of other Western countries.

Many people stop taking their SSRIs for various reasons.  But if you stop your medication, you’re supposed to do so very gradually.  If you don’t, you can suffer major side effects.  And, if you’ve been arrested for DUI after stopping treatment with an SSRI, you may be able to show your behavior and conduct at the time of your arrest were not due to impairment by alcohol, but rather by a phenomenon termed “SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome.”  Continue reading

Together with Arizona and South Carolina, Florida is considered to have some of the more strict DUI laws in the country.  Soon, however, Utah will be the undisputed king of strict DUI laws in the nation.

Currently, all states require a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater for someone to be considered to be driving under the influence.  Recently Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, signed legislation giving Utah the strictest DUI threshold in the country.  The law reduces the DUI blood alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05.

Opponents of the law urged the governor to veto the bill, contending it would punish responsible drinkers and reinforce Utah’s reputation as being unfriendly to drinkers.  Governor Herbert, a Mormon, denied the bill was motivated for religious reasons.  Instead, he said the bill’s impetus arose out of concern for public safety. Continue reading

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