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DUI Marijuana

The crime of driving under the influence (DUI) is frequently associated with alcoholic beverages. This is due to police officers possessing multiple ways to test a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for impairment. However, motorists in Florida can also be charged with DUI if they are suspected of operating motor vehicles while under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. This is often referred to as driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) or drugged driving.

Florida does not yet have a “per se” version of driving under the influence of marijuana, although the Florida legislature has considered it in the past. Nevertheless, law enforcement officers can allege that a driver appears to be impaired by recently consumed marijuana. Additionally, THC will sometimes show up in a blood or urine test. However, there have continuously been difficulties in proving when the marijuana may have been consumed. The fact that medical marijuana is now legal in Florida can further complicate things, yet the law stays firm that you cannot legally drive or operate a vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol.

The potential penalties for a DUID conviction are just as serious as a DUI involving alcohol. However, cases involving allegedly “high drivers” are often much more complex. In many cases, drivers can be placed under arrest even though their previous marijuana use was from days or even weeks before they drove. To confidently protect yourself and your future, consider hiring a defense attorney to represent your DUID case.

Attorney for DUI Marijuana Cases in Tallahassee, FL

Were you recently arrested in Northern Florida and charged with a cannabis-related DUI offense? It is critical that you consider seeking legal representation as soon as possible. Pumphrey Law represents clients in Leon County and surrounding areas such as Bay County, Gadsden County, Jefferson County, Liberty County, Wakulla County.

Don Pumphrey, Jr., and his team have nearly a quarter-century of combined legal experience. Our Tallahassee DUI marijuana attorneys are licensed to practice in all Florida state courts. We can provide you with a thorough evaluation of your case when you call (850) 681-7777 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Leon County DUI Marijuana Information Center

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Florida DUI Marijuana Charges

Florida Statute Section 316.193 states that a person is guilty of DUI if he or she is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and is under the influence of any controlled substance when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. Marijuana is considered a controlled substance under Florida law.

An alleged offender suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana may submit to a breath test in which he or she blows a 0.00 reading but if the police officer believes the individual’s abilities were impaired by marijuana, they could still be placed under arrest for a marijuana-related DUI. Law enforcement may attempt to justify a DUID arrests in the following situations:

  • Marijuana was found inside the alleged offender’s motor vehicle;
  • The odor of marijuana was present in the alleged offender’s automobile; or
  • The alleged offender had red eyes or displayed other symptoms of marijuana use.

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Role of Drug Recognition Experts in Tallahassee DUI Marijuana Arrests

It can be difficult for law enforcement to determine what substance an alleged offender was impaired by while driving. Since the passing of legal hemp in Florida, police officers have had a difficult time distinguishing between the two. The “Odor Plus Standard” may be used, but studies have found that the two substances have been confused and even mislabeled as the other.

In some jurisdictions, police officers may call for the assistance of a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE is an officer who has been trained and certified to evaluate suspects and determine whether they are impaired and what type of drug(s) is/are causing the impairment.

A DRE may perform any number of tests on an alleged offender, including:

  • Preliminary Physical Evaluation— This determines whether a suspect’s alleged impairment is possibly the result of a medical condition, but there are also questions that are intended to elicit incriminating statements.
  • Field Sobriety Tests — The DRE may ask the alleged offender to perform (and possible retake if arresting officer already had the suspect perform such tests) eye examinations like Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Vertical Gaze Nystagmus, or lack of ocular convergence tests, as well as divided attention psychophysical tests like the walk and turn or one leg stand tests.
  • Additional Physical Examinations— The DRE may measure the pupil sizes of an alleged offender under different lighting conditions.
  • Toxicological Examination— The DRE will usually want to obtain some type of urine, blood, or saliva sample from the alleged offender for chemical analysis.

Just as the State can use an expert witness, so can the defense counsel. The lawyers with Pumphrey Law may recommend using a DRE to cross examine the prosecution’s evidence against you.

Can I be Convicted of Marijuana DUI with a Medical Card?

Marijuana has been legalized in Florida for medical purposes since 2014. The legislation has changed shape over the years, with different rules and regulations being implemented in 2016, 2017, 2019, and again in 2022. You can read all the relative information on medical marijuana eligibility in Florida here.

What are the consequences, then, for a person accused of driving high while holding a valid medical marijuana card?

Florida law allows qualified medical marijuana card holders to possess marijuana they have legally purchased from a designated dispensary. Under Florida Statute Section 381.986(12)(e), a person must provide their medical marijuana card at the request of a law enforcement officer if they are currently in possession of any marijuana. The failure to provide a valid medical marijuana card can result in being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor; however, a person cannot be convicted if before or at the time of their court hearing, the defendant provides proof of their medical marijuana card.

Despite being able to legally possess marijuana while driving with a valid medical card, Florida law still prohibits the use of medical marijuana while driving. Even if the marijuana in your possession was lawfully possessed from a dispensary, driving while impaired (either from alcohol or any other controlled substance) is against the law. That means a person accused of driving high—even with a medical card—can face the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).

Under Florida Statute Section 381.986(12)(3), a qualified medical marijuana patient who uses marijuana in plain view or in a place open to the general public can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Prohibited locations include:

  • On school grounds;
  • In a school bus;
  • On an aircraft;
  • On a boat; and/or
  • In a motor vehicle.

Essentially, you can legally carry medical marijuana in your possession; however, using it in any form inside a motor vehicle or attempting to drive after using it can result in you being arrested and charged with a criminal offense.   

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Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Leon County

A person who has been arrested for a cannabis-related DUI faces very harsh consequences if they are convicted of the crime. The potential punishments that accompany a conviction for driving while high increase with repeat offenses, meaning that previous arrests for alcohol-related DUIs will count against the defendant. The maximum penalties for a marijuana DUI offense are codified under Florida Statute Section 316.193 to include:

  • First Conviction — Up to six months in jail and/or fine of up to $1,000
  • Second Conviction — Up to nine months in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000
  • Third Conviction (Within 10 Years of Second) — Up to five years in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000
  • Third Conviction (More Than 10 Years After Second) — Up to 12 months in jail and/or fine of up to $2,500
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction — Up to five years in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000

There may be additional penalties for a DUI conviction. Drugged driving offenses can also result in the defendant losing their driving privileges and place them on a probation period of one-year. If you are unsure about what potential penalties can arise with your marijuana DUI charge, contact the defense lawyers with Pumphrey Law Firm.

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Florida DUI Marijuana Defenses

It is critical for people facing these penalties to understand that there may be several possible defenses that can result in cannabis-related DUI charges being significantly reduced or completely dismissed. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Chemical tests were illegally obtained by the arresting law enforcement officer;
  • The arresting officer conducted an illegal search of the defendant’s automobile;
  • The arresting officer conducted an unlawful stop of the defendant’s motor vehicle;
  • The arresting officer improperly administered field sobriety tests to the defendant;
  • The positive chemical test for marijuana does not indicate impairment at time the defendant was allegedly driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle; or
  • The defendant was a lawful medical marijuana card hold and was merely transporting marijuana legally purchased from a registered dispensary.

There may be other defense strategies available to you. Consider hiring a defense attorney with Pumphrey Law to discuss the surrounding facts of your case.

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Find a Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee

Are you facing criminal DUI charges for allegedly driving while high? Pumphrey Law Firm will aggressively fight for the most favorable outcome to your case. Our Tallahassee DUID attorneys represent clients throughout Leon County as well as many surrounding communities such as Bristol, Callaway, Chattahoochee, Lynn Haven, Monticello, and Panama City.

When you need a knowledgeable and reliable defense team, Pumphrey Law is there for you. We will protect your rights throughout all criminal procedures and provide you with insight on how to best handle your case. Our team can review your case during a free consultation as soon as you call (850) 681-7777 today.


Page Updated March 19, 2024

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