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drug and alcohol offenses

In Florida, a driver is guilty of driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, certain chemical substances, or any controlled substance when their normal faculties are impaired. Florida law prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol, harmful chemical substances, or illegal controlled substances
  • While having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more

The penalties associated with a Florida drug or alcohol offense can be steep depending on the circumstances, but the facts of every case are different. If you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, take the charges very seriously and speak with a qualified DUI attorney in your area as soon as possible.

Florida Drunk Driving

Florida defines “under the influence” as impaired to the degree that the driver is deprived of full possession of normal faculties. A per se DUI requires only a BAC of 0.08 percent or more (or 0.04 percent for the operator of a commercial vehicle), and an aggravated DUI involves a minor passenger or a BAC of .15 percent or more.

The penalties for drunk driving in Florida are determined by the number of prior offenses, although current DUI circumstances may also affect punishment. In addition to fines and potential jail time, all those convicted of DUI will be required to complete a term of probation and enroll in a substance abuse course – those who fail to complete the course will have their driver’s license revoked. The court might also order a sobriety and drug monitoring program with random testing. Drivers under age 21 with a BAC of 0.02 percent or more or those will be charged with an underage DUI violation, resulting in license suspension.

Under Florida’s implied consent laws, all drivers arrested for DUI must submit to a blood, urine, or breath test, and those who refuse will have their driver’s license revoked for one year. A motorist arrested for a second-offense DUI who refuses to be tested will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. Underage drivers who refuse testing will receive a license suspension of one year and 18 months for a subsequent offense.

DUI accidents resulting in property damage or injury to people will incur additional penalties. While pleading a first-offense DUI down to a lesser offense like “wet reckless” is possible, subsequent violations and DUIs resulting in manslaughter or BACs of .15 percent or more cannot be reduced. You won’t know what your options are until you talk to a qualified Florida drug and alcohol offense attorney – so don’t try to go it alone.

Florida Drugged Driving

A driver can be convicted of drugged driving in Florida if they are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of “harmful chemicals” or “controlled substances.” Actual physical control means they are in or on the vehicle and can operate it – a motorist can be convicted of a DUI even if they are not driving the car.

Under Florida law, a driver is under the influence if, after ingesting drugs, their “normal faculties are impaired.” Substances that meet the definition of harmful chemicals include nitrous oxide, isopropyl alcohol, and certain chemicals found in solvents that drug users inhale (huff) to get high. Florida’s list of controlled substances and a few examples of each include:

  • Benzodiazepines – Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin
  • Cannabinoids – Marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), and THC
  • Hallucinogens – LSD, psilocybin, and peyote
  • Opiates – Morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and heroin
  • Opioids – OxyContin, Vicodin, and fentanyl (a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine)
  • Stimulants – Dexedrine, Adderall, methamphetamine, and cocaine

Driving while impaired by any amount of recreational, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs is illegal in Florida. However, to convict someone of drugged driving in the state, the prosecutor must not only show that they had drugs in their system. They are required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence of drugs in a way that impaired their ability to drive. Some people don’t meet that definition, and a knowledgeable Florida DUI attorney can help make that argument in court.

Contact an Experienced Vero Beach Drug and Alcohol Defense Attorney

Are you facing charges for a drug or alcohol offense in Florida? As a former prosecutor, Vero Beach Florida Attorney Susan Chesnutt knows what you are up against and has the experience to obtain the best outcome possible. If you are looking for help to defend a DUI charge in Florida, contact our firm online or call 772-242-0524 today.