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Driving Under the Influence

Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence… A Cause for Concern

According to the most recent statements made by the former United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, the Trump Administration has major concerns about the effects of the legalization of marijuana and the possibility of an increase in crimes being committed. Sessions told reporters that, where marijuana has been legalized, a “real violence” exists around the marijuana industry, and in some cases, into states where legalization has not yet taken place. This ongoing debate is being fueled by proponents who advocate for stronger resistance by the federal government to legalization on federal lands and stronger enforcement of interstate trade laws, according to news sources. Spokespersons for Colorado’s, Marijuana Industry Group released data compiled since the legalization of recreational marijuana, that violent crimes have decreased, demonstrating that a well-regulated marijuana industry is a strong defense against black-market marijuana sales. The State of Colorado has also compiled several studies which reveal that a 2.2 percent decrease in violent crimes and an 8.9 percent reduction in property crimes has resulted in the same time periods. Another report by the Colorado Department of Public Safety showed that, from 2009-2014, violent crimes committed statewide decreased 6 percent. Other states have weighed in on the debate, and, in Washington State, similar violent crime decreases have taken place since legalization of recreational cannabis.

One major concern still exists over the use of recreational and/or medically prescribed marijuana, and its effect on operating a motor vehicle. In Colorado, state officials have passed laws specifying the legal limit for marijuana impairment as five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the whole blood level of the driver. Advanced training has been implemented for law enforcement officials conducting Roadside Impairment Driving Assessments, along with specifically trained Drug Recognition Experts that can be deployed to the field to detect impairment, from a variety of substances, including marijuana. It is universally accepted that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug can impair one’s ability to make good decisions and react to road and traffic conditions, in a responsible and appropriate manor.

Florida Law Concerning Driving Under the Influence of THC

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Florida while under the influence of any controlled substance, to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired.  Driving under the influence of medical marijuana is illegal, if your normal faculties are impaired and you cannot operate a motor vehicle safely. DUI is a serious crime with serious life-altering implications to those convicted. Having a medical marijuana prescription gives one the right to use the drug for medical purposes, but not the right to operate a motor vehicle while impaired.  If a law enforcement officer believes you are driving while impaired, he or she has the right to stop your vehicle and conduct a DUI investigation.  A video tape of your performance on Field Sobriety Exercises can either provide evidence you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or prove you were not. Blood tests for marijuana may be inconclusive, because the drug lingers in the blood stream long after the effects have worn off.  However, the State of Florida is in the process of developing guidelines with regards to the legal limits of THC in the blood stream. 

Consider Hiring Fallgatter Catlin & Varon as Your Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI for being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or some other controlled substance, you are in danger of losing your license and your freedom. DUI charges, even for a first offense, is a serious crime in the State of Florida, and can have lasting repercussions. Curtis Fallgatter is a former Federal Prosecutor who has been practicing criminal law for over 40 years. He is one of the most experienced and successful criminal defense attorneys in the United States and has been coveted as an expert on criminal matters by television producers and the Dr. Phil Show, to provide commentary on criminal subjects ranging from DUI to complex criminal matters. Lisa Varon has been a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years and is the former President of the Northeast Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Before making any statements to law enforcement, contact the law office of Fallgatter Catlin & Varon, P.A. Understanding your rights in a criminal matter is essential to achieving a successful outcome. Put the full weight and experience of an experienced criminal trial attorney behind you. We understand that sometimes good people make bad choices, but don’t compound the situation by hiring the least expensive attorney or none at all. Protect your rights by hiring the most experienced and successful criminal defense attorneys available.  You will be glad you did. Call Fallgatter Catlin & Varon, P.A. for a free consultation at 904-353-5800. Visit our website at FallgatterLaw.Com for a complete list of our experience and credentials.   

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