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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Blog

Can you be charged with a DUI for prescribed drugs?

Everyone knows that drunk driving and driving under the influence of illegal drugs are huge no-nos in Florida, but do you also know the risks of driving while under the influence of prescription drugs? Law enforcement can stop you and arrest you for driving under the influence of any substance, which includes prescription drugs, according to the New York Times. If you are displaying signs that you are not coherent or focused behind the wheel, expect to be pulled over. Law enforcement's main job is to protect everyone on the roadways and if you cannot drive safely, they will remove you from those roadways.

However, managing drivers who are under the influence of prescription drugs is tough. There is not standard test or way to even know if you are currently under the influence because of the way drugs work within the body. You could have taken a drug two days ago and not at all be under its influence but still test positive for it. This makes it tough for the state to set a limit on how much of a drug you can have in your system before being considered under the influence. 

What are some field sobriety tests?

If you are pulled over under the assumption you are driving drunk, then you may be asked by Florida law enforcement to take the standardized field sobriety test. This is a test that includes three tasks you must complete. It helps the officer to determine if you are indeed intoxicated. 

According to AAA, the SFSTs were developed in the 1970s and are admissible in court as evidence of intoxication. One of the tests requires you to stand on one foot with the other off the ground. While in this position, you must count until you are told to stop, which is typically for 30 seconds. The officer will look for swaying or balance issues. This is called the one-leg stand test.

Counting on an accurate diagnosis? First, seek a second opinion

Like most people, you probably have little in-depth medical knowledge. When their education and talents lie elsewhere, most individuals have little choice but to place their trust in doctors when it comes to medical treatments. After all, physicians go to school for years to make sure they have the training and expertise necessary to keep patients healthy.

Doctors, however, are only human, and humans make mistakes. Everyone has the occasional lapse in judgment or an off-day, prone to errors. Problems arise, though, when a doctor makes a poor judgment call, because it's no longer just an innocent oversight when lives are at stake. But how can you try to keep yourself and your family safe if you can't necessarily rely on your physician?

What happens domestic violence is reported?

Law enforcement in Florida take domestic violence situations quite seriously. If you call them to report an incident, you should expect immediate action. According to the University of Florida, domestic violence is considered criminal and not civil. This means that if law enforcement is called and there is evidence of what happened, someone will most likely go to jail. It also means you no longer have control over what happens if you were the one reporting the incident. The prosecutor will take over and press charges even if you do not want that to happen. 

Typically, once a call is placed, law enforcement will arrive on the scene. They will check for injuries, and if you are still engaged in a dispute, they will try to deescalate the situation. If you are the victim, you will be given information about your rights and where you can go for help. If you are the accused, it is likely you will spend at least the night in jail. You will go in front of a judge and may get bail set. You will have to return to court to defend yourself against the domestic violence charge. The charges filed can be a felony. It depends on if this is a first-time incident and the history of the accused. 

Can you be charged with a DUI when on prescribed drugs?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. It is not substance specific. If you get a DUI in Florida, you could get it for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, are prescription drugs included here? Can you get a DUI if you are under the influence of a prescribed drug? The New York Times says that law enforcement say you can if you are exhibiting signs of being impaired by drugs when driving.

Of course, charging someone with a DUI for prescription drugs is not as easy or straightforward as it is with alcohol. Alcohol is simple to measure and goes through the bloodstream at a fairly easy to determine rate. It is not easy to tell when someone may have used a prescribed drug. In addition, drugs may stay in the system long after their effects have worn off, so a positive blood test could mean nothing.

Is medical marijuana changing DUI laws?

Because medical marijuana is now legal in most states, it is becoming a new concern for lawmakers and law enforcement when it comes to drivers. If you are driving on a Florida roadway after using medical marijuana, can you be charged with a DUI or DWI? This is a question that is bringing about a lot of discussion.

According to USA Today, one of the main concerns is that testing for marijuana in the system is much different than testing for alcohol or even other drugs. Marijuana is notorious for lingering in the system long after it has been used. This means if you are tested, you could test positive even if you took the marijuana yesterday and are no longer under its effects. In addition, law enforcement has no field tests, like the breathalyzer used for drunk drivers, that can be used to see if you are currently impaired by marijuana before you are arrested. Furthermore, law enforcement may not be educated or trained properly to even understand how to read marijuana test results.

Where is the outrage over drunk driving?

Drunk driving is a serious issue that does not seem to get the same outrage as similar issues. Drunk driving accidents are preventable, but people do not seem as focused on trying to stop them as they are with other issues, such as gun control. Why is this?

The Fix reports that in the 1980s, DUIs were a huge concern. Society pushed for stronger regulations and harsher punishments. While some laws changed and the number of deaths associated with alcohol-related accidents went down, the problem is far from over. Every day people die due to drunk drivers, but it seems we have become numb to the problem.

Will I lose my car if I get a DUI?

Getting pulled over and arrested for drunk driving may feel like the lowest point in your life. However, it is after the initial arrest when you have to begin to put things back together in your life when things can become quite strained. In Florida, you face many penalities for driving under the influence. One such punishment may be having your car impounded.

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, you will have your vehicle impounded or at least immobilized in most cases if you get a DUI. The only exception from impoundment is if the vehicle is the only one your family has or if it is used by employees for business purposes. So, if you have one car and your wife would need it to take the kids to school and get to work, then the vehicle will be released to her or if the vehicle you were driving was a business vehicle, it will be released to an employee. In any other situation, you can expect to have your vehicle impounded for at least 10 days. Each time you get a DUI, the number of days increases. It can be as long as 90 days.

Understanding Florida domestic violence laws

Understanding Florida domestic violence laws

Domestic violence in Florida is not simply a marital spat or disagreement that gets a “little” out of hand. As the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence explains, domestic violence encompasses all sorts of controlling behaviors used by someone against his or her intimate partner. While domestic violence can be actual physical violence such as slapping, punching, hitting, choking and other forms of intentional injury, it also can be such things as harming a pet, using the children against the other partner, threatening murder or suicide, and extreme possessiveness and/or jealousy.

Can you afford a DUI?

Maybe you're saving money for a dream vacation, or you plan to upgrade your kitchen. Maybe you want to buy new furniture, or you're hoping to save up enough to invest in your retirement. You may hear lots of advice for managing your money to accomplish any of these goals. However, one important piece of advice that may be missing could save you from losing all those dreams in one night.

Drive sober. Following this piece of wisdom could save you thousands of dollars. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates drivers spend about $52 billion a year on the consequences of DUI violations. Because of the pressure on state and local governments from safety advocates and proponents of tougher laws, Florida and other parts of the country continue to make things hard for convicted drunk drivers, even for a first offense.

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Ian F. Mann PA

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Fort Myers, FL 33901

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