What is “drugged driving” in Florida?

By Jonathan Blecher on March 10, 2023

You probably have a pretty good idea of what “drunk driving” involves. That term is thrown around a lot, but DUI laws in Florida define the crime as “driving under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired” or “driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level”. We can all agree that excessive alcohol consumption prior to driving is a bad idea.

But, what about drugged driving? Drugged driving is much more common than you may realize, and you could already be guilty of doing it by mistake.

Driving under the influence of drugs when your normal faculties are impaired

Most people hear the term “drugged driving” and they automatically think about marijuana or other illicit street drugs. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that many drugs can leave their “normal faculties” impaired to the point that they’re unsafe to drive. Driving while impaired by drugs is subject to the same penalties as driving while impaired by alcohol.

This means that you could end up with a drugged driving charge because of a new prescription your doctor gave you (especially those with the “Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery” labels) or even an increase in the dosage of an old prescription.

You can also be guilty of drugged driving after using an over-the-counter medication or a combination of them. For example, people who suffer from allergies may pick up antihistamines or cold medication to control their systems and end up drifting asleep at the wheel. Ask your doctor about any possible side effects that might impair driving ability.

This is something to keep in mind if you’re ever pulled over and an officer asks if you’ve been drinking. Even if your first thought is that your medication may have affected your ability to focus or drive, admitting that you’ve taken something can be akin to admitting to drugged driving.

It gets even more complicated for people who have been prescribed medical cannabis to manage pain associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis as well as PTSD and anxiety. Levels of THC in their bloodstreams may be high due to frequent use, though not impairing at the time of driving.

If you’ve been charged with drugged driving, find out what legal defense options you have available.

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