The State of Florida treats driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs as the same offense. A DUI for drug use results in the same penalties as an alcohol DUI, but can be much more difficult to prove, especially when the substance involved is marijuana. Considering a growing number of fatal crashes are linked to drug use, it’s understandable that police throughout the Sunshine State are making cracking down on drivers who are high a priority.
With more people using medical marijuana to treat a variety of ailments, it is plausible that many more drivers on Florida’s roadways have marijuana in their systems; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are impaired. Police must use their judgment to determine whether or not a driver’s faculties are impaired as a result of marijuana use. Law enforcement officers may also rely upon chemical tests to learn whether or not THC — the active ingredient in cannabis — is in a person’s system, although these tests do not produce results that are as accurate as they are for determining alcohol impairment.
Signs that a Driver May Be Impaired by Drugs
Police first identify impaired drivers by erratic driving behavior. After a series of poor maneuvers, an officer may decide to stop a driver and conduct a cursory investigation. If the officer has reasonable cause to believe the driver is under the influence of a substance, he may watch for certain signals that indicate that the substance is a drug rather than alcohol. Typically, the pupils give off these signals. Pupils react differently to different types of drugs.
After examining the driver, the officer may request the driver submit to a blood or urine test. Under Florida law, drivers consent to these tests when they apply for their drivers’ licenses. Therefore, officers rely upon implied consent to issue these tests, and may use force if necessary. If tests indicate that the driver was under the influence of marijuana, he may place the driver under arrest for a marijuana DUI.
How much marijuana is too much?
Unfortunately, testing for marijuana impairment is not as cut and dried as it is for alcohol impairment. There is no standard threshold of THC a driver should have before being considered “impaired” because marijuana users all have a different tolerance for the drug. Some may be able to operate normally with a high concentration of THC in their blood while relatively new users or those who use marijuana infrequently may be impaired at lower levels.
How can the prosecutor prove a person is under the influence?
Prosecutors must establish the following elements to prove that a person was under the influence of marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle
- The defendant was under the influence of a controlled substance
- The substance affected the defendant’s normal faculties
Considering THC affects all users differently, a defense attorney may readily cast doubt on whether a defendant was under the influence or had his faculties impaired by the drug in question.
Fighting a Marijuana DUI in West Palm Beach
With the right West Palm Beach marijuana dui lawyer by your side, it may be possible to have your charges dropped by persuading the prosecutor in your case that there is simply not enough evidence for a conviction. Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel holds over 30 years of experience fighting DUI throughout Palm Beach County. He has won many successful results for his clients and can be a significant asset in your case.
Contact Brian Gabriel by calling 561-622-5575 or complete our online contact form.