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Melbourne Drug Impaired DUI Attorney

Defending Against Drug DUI Charges in FL

Driving under the influence (DUI) is an illegal offense in Florida. Most typically associate a DUI with alcohol consumption, although this isn’t always the case. A person can be charged with driving impaired due to controlled substances, prescription drugs, or even over-the-counter medication. While the impairment may not have been your intention, law enforcement can still charge you with a DUI.

Driving impaired on drugs can result in serious criminal penalties. You may be obligated to pay large fines, serve probation, attend a court-ordered program or even face possible incarceration. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it’s vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Driving under the Influence of drugs can be much more difficult for prosecutors to prove than a DUI because even if a chemical test shows that there is a controlled substance in an alleged offender’s system, such evidence does not necessarily mean that the drug diminished the alleged offender’s ability to drive. It is important to note that a person can also be charged with DUID even if he or she was allegedly under the influence of a perfectly legal prescription drug.

Attorney for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Melbourne, Florida

Law enforcement is learning new tactics to identify drug impairment. Police officers can now be certified as “Drug Recognition Experts” (DRE) to asses drugged drivers. Any person whose been charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) should seek legal representation.

Contact an experienced DUI attorney at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy. We have experience in combating DUI charges for clients. Our attorneys have the defense strategies you need to avoid statutory penalties. Get ahead of your charges now with Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy.

Call us now to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys practice law throughout the greater throughout the greater Melbourne area and surrounding cities including Cape Canaveral, Titusville, and Cocoa Beach.

Overview of Drug Impaired DUIs in Florida

  • Drug Related DUI in Florida
  • Penalties for a Florida DUI
  • DUI Testing
  • Implied Consent Warning
  • Common Prescriptions and Medications
  • Additional Resources

Drug Impaired DUI under Florida Law

Driving under the influence of any controlled substance is illegal in Florida. Florida law determines impairment in two ways; if their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08 or if their normal faculties are impaired. Law enforcement uses field sobriety exercises, chemical testing and objective evidence to charge a person with a DUI.

Florida Statute § 316.193 defines “normal faculties” as a person’s ability to walk, hear, see, talk, judge distances, make judgments and perform daily mental or physical tasks. This definition for mental faculties is subjective and isn’t standardized. Basically, it’s up to the police officer’s discretion whether your normal faculties are impaired or not.

Law enforcement also uses DUI testing to measure a person’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Those who have a BAC of .08 or higher are considered intoxicated by Florida law. Since drugs don’t always show up in breath analysis, most officers will use blood or urine testing on drugged drivers. These tests are arguably problematic are known to give skewed results.


Penalties for Drug-Related DUIs in Florida

A person could be charged with a DUI for drugs. The penalties for a DUI by drugs are exactly the same as a DUI by alcohol. Take note, these are the penalties for a DUI without aggravating factors. Certain circumstances during the offense such as a child passenger or a BAC of .15 can lead to enhanced penalties.

The penalties may also be increased depending on the volume of drugs found in his or her system. Penalties can worsen further if drugs are found inside the car. A person could be charged a felony if it is his or her fourth DUI offense.

First DUI Offense

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • A fine between $500 to $1,000;
  • Up to 50 hours of community service;
  • License suspension for up to six months;
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment;
  • Participation in DUI school; and
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device.

Second DUI Offense (More than five years from first DUI)

  • Up to nine months in jail;
  • A fine between $1,000 and $2,000;
  • Up to 50 hours of community service;
  • License suspension up to 12 months;
  • 30-day vehicle impoundment;
  • Participation in DUI school; and
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year.

Second DUI Offense (Within five years from first DUI)

  • Minimum of 10 days in jail;
  • Maximum of nine months in jail;
  • A fine between $1,000 and $2,000
  • Up to 50 hours of community service;
  • Five-year revocation of driver’s license;
  • Vehicle Impoundment up to 30 days;
  • Not eligible for a hardship license for 12 months;
  • Participation in DUI school; and
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device for up to one year.

Third DUI Offense

  • Up to five years in prison;
  • A fine of up to $5,000;
  • Up to 50 hours of community service;
  • License revocation up to 10 years;
  • Vehicle impoundment up to 90 days;
  • Participation in DUI school;
  • Not eligible for a hardship license for up to 2 years; and
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device for up to 2 years.

DUI Testing in Florida

Police officers don’t have a standardized measurement for drug impairment. Instead, they use field sobriety tests, chemical testing and other objective evidence to assess a person’s impairment level. DUI testing isn’t flawless by any means. Many DUI tests produce false results for those intoxicated on drugs. Since DUI testing doesn’t accurately determine impairment by drugs the results aren’t always trustworthy.

Officers typically use field sobriety exercises first to evaluate a person’s level of impairment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made three field sobriety tests for law enforcement to use. These tests have been subject to NHTSA studies over time and claim to accurately measure a person’s mental faculties.

These tests include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – A person’s eye will involuntarily twitch if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. This is referred to as a nystagmus. Police officers use the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) to measure a person’s mental faculties. Typically, an officer will put a pen 12 to 15 inches away from the driver’s nose. Then the officer will sway the object side to side and evaluate the driver’s eyes. NHTSA claims that the HGN is the most accurate of the three with a 75 percent success rate.
  • One-Leg Stand – In some cases, law enforcement may ask the driver to stand on one leg about six inches off the ground. Usually, the driver will be asked to keep their balance while counting for up to 30 seconds. Those who can’t keep their balance may be considered impaired by law enforcement.
  • Walk-and-Turn – Law enforcement may ask the driver to submit to a walk-and-turn test. The driver will be told to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line and then turn on one foot to take another nine heel-to-toe steps. If the driver isn’t able to keep their balance or walk the line, it’s considered a sign of impairment.

Many external factors can affect a person’s ability to complete field sobriety tests. Outside stimuli such as weather, cars or even slippery roads can affect your results. In addition, if you have a disability or you’re a certain age it might be outside of your physical ability to even perform field sobriety exercises.

After field sobriety tests, police officers will normally turn to chemical testing. In some cases, an officer might skip field sobriety testing altogether if they believe you’re impaired by drugs. Chemical testing is a much more accurate way of measuring impairment. However, like field sobriety exercises, chemical testing has its own slew of problems.

Law enforcement uses the following types of chemical testing to measure impairment:

  • Blood – Blood analysis is considered to be the most accurate chemical test. Police may ask you to submit to a blood draw if they believe you’re on drugs. In some cases, law enforcement may even perform a forced blood draw. Officers can only perform this if the driver is impaired and induced an accident that results in serious bodily injury or death.
  • Breath – Police officers usually use breath analysis for intoxicated drivers. If law enforcement believes you’re impaired by drugs, then they probably won’t use a breath analysis. Usually, law enforcement will use a portable breath test (PBT) or a breathalyzer at the station to perform a breath test.
  • Urine – Law enforcement may ask you to give a urine sample. Urine is a controversial way to test for drugs because some drugs can remain in your system for weeks. A state or private crime lab evaluates most urine samples.

Chemical testing can lead to misleading results. If issues happen during lab procedures, the samples could be contaminated. In addition, some machines used for testing are considered outdated or not maintained. Many perfectly sober people have failed chemical testing due to outside factors.


Implied Consent Laws in Florida

Florida has a set of laws that pertain to testing called the implied consent warning. Florida residents and visitors are bound by law to submit to DUI testing if they use Florida’s public roads. Drivers who refuse testing may be subject to administrative penalties.

Refusing testing may be the best idea. The prosecution won’t have any concrete evidence against you and your case may be easier to reduce or dismiss. However, choosing refusal will lead to consequences. Those who refuse to submit to chemical testing may have their license suspended for up to 6 months. A second refusal will result in a license suspension for up to 18 months.

However, there’s no reason to be discouraged. Hiring an attorney can significantly increase your chances of retaining your license. An attorney can file a request for an administrative suspension hearing. Once the hearing is set, your attorney can fight for your driving privileges in court. It’s important to note, however, that you only have 10 days to file a suspension hearing after your license is suspended.


Common Prescription Drugs or Medication in a DUI

Illegal drugs and alcohol aren’t the only substances that can lead to a DUI. Common prescriptions and even over-the-counter medicines have been known to impair people’s driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that 42 percent of people driving impaired on drugs were using a substance prescribed to them.

It’s legal to take a prescribed drug and drive. However, it’s illegal to drive with your normal faculties impaired. If your medication or prescription affects your driving ability you could be charged with a DUI. The following are some prescriptions and medications that can lead to a DUI:

  • Ativan;
  • Valium;
  • Hydrocodone;
  • Ativan;
  • Vicodin;
  • Percocet;
  • Darvocet;
  • Xanax;
  • Dimetapp;
  • Benadryl;
  • Robitussin;
  • Sleeping pills;
  • Some antidepressants; or
  • Anti-anxiety medication.

Additional Resources

Drugs and Driving – Visit the official website for the Florida Department for Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to find more information about drugged driving. Find more information about prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and how it may affect your driving.

DUI Program Services – Visit the official website for the Florida Association of DUI Programs and learn more about their program services. Gain access to a map of their locations and learn the difference between different types of DUI classes required by the court.


Lawyer for Drug DUI in Brevard County, Florida

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI involving drugs, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You could face harsh statutory penalties and face the social consequences from a conviction. Don’t wait another moment. Contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy today.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy are compassionate with clients and aggressive in the courtroom. We have represented numerous DUI cases and have gained years of experience. Rest assured, no DUI case is too big for us. Our attorneys work tirelessly to get you the best results. Call now to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney today.

Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy accepts clients throughout the greater Melbourne area including Cocoa, Cape Canaveral, Palm Bay, and Satellite Beach.

Why Hire Germain & McCarthy?

  • Our attorneys have over 20 years of combined experience.
  • We have an exceptional reputation & hundreds of happy clients.
  • Our attorneys have a proven track record in handling cases like yours.
  • We offer free consultations to all of our clients no matter the case.
  • We are available and accessible 24/7 for all of your legal needs.