Articles Posted in DUI

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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

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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

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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