When people think of the criminal charge of driving under the influence, alcohol is the first thing that comes to mind. It is important to understand, however, that you may be charged with DUI even if you have not consumed any alcohol. In Florida, DUI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol OR any chemical or controlled substance listed under the statute. If you are charged with a DUI involving drugs, you should retain an experienced Clearwater DUI attorney immediately to defend your rights.Chemical and Controlled Substances
Florida statutes 877.111 and 893 include the list of substances that the state can argue caused your impairment in a DUI case. Drug DUIs commonly involve illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine or heroin. Notably though, you may be charged with DUI if the police believe you under the influence of completely legal prescription medications. Many perfectly legal drugs such as Xanax and Oxycodone have seriously intoxicating effects and such intoxication can lead to your arrest for DUI. It is important that you consult with a Clearwater DUI attorney who understands the chemical effects of these substances in order to craft a defense for your case.
A key difference between drug DUI and alcohol DUI cases is the testing procedure. If you are suspected of drinking and driving and are placed under arrest, officers will typically request a breath sample to test your breath alcohol level or BAC. If you blow over the legal limit of .08, the law presumes that you are under the influence of alcohol. If you do not provide a breath sample, the prosecution then has a more difficult burden of proving your guilt by showing that your “normal faculties” were impaired by alcohol.
In a Drug DUI case, there is no presumption of guilt based on the amount of a particular substance in your system. This is because studies and tests have been conducted and relied upon by the legislature to indicate that a breath alcohol level of .08 will impair the normal faculties of an average person. Because alcohol is the most common cause of impaired driving, a great deal of resources have been allotted by the government to combat and punish those offenses. Drug DUIs can involve hundreds or thousands of different types of impairing substances, and it is not feasible for the government to determine the amount of each substance that indicates impairment. Some states, however have begun to implement a standard blood alcohol level in cannabis related DUI cases.
Because of the lack of legal standards in most drug DUI cases, your attorney can argue that the prosecution lacks evidence to prove that your normal faculties were impaired by the drugs in your system. To collect evidence against those suspected of DUI, Police agencies use standardized field sobriety exercises like the horizontal gaze nystagmus or “eye test,” the walk and turn, the one legged stand, and the finger to nose exercise. These exercises, however, were developed to determine impairment by alcohol, and a skilled Clearwater DUI defense lawyer can expose the problems with these exercises related to Drug DUIsLicense Suspension
Additionally, in an alcohol related DUI, if you blow over the legal limit, your license will be suspended for six months. If an officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol, they will typically request that you submit to a urine sample. A refusal to submit to the urine sample will result in a license suspension of twelve months and may be used against you in court. However, if this is your first arrest for DUI, you may qualify to apply for a hardship license. If you did submit to a urine or blood sample, your license will not be suspended even if you test positive for controlled or illegal substances. This is because the legislature has only required license suspensions for those who test positive for alcohol.Retain an Experienced Clearwater DUI Defense Lawyer
Drug DUIs present unique and complex problems that do not exist in a typical alcohol related DUI case. You should consult a lawyer who knows how to attack those problems and who has experience fighting for clients charged with drug-related DUI. The attorneys at Hanlon Law have the experience and dedication to defend you. Call us today at (727) 897-4852.