Alcohol is not the only substance that can negatively impact your ability to drive safely. Quite a large number of prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs can negatively affect how well you manage a vehicle. Florida expects that all drivers will only get behind the wheel when they are not under the influence of any potentially dangerous drug.
Many prescriptions come with a warning that they can negatively impact your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. You should also check for warnings about drowsiness to ensure you don’t make a mistake about when it’s safe to drive. If you choose to get behind the wheel after ingesting them, you could find yourself facing drugged-driving accusations.
The same is true for people with medical marijuana recommendations in Florida. While the state of Florida limits recommendations to those with severe and debilitating conditions like ALS and intractable seizures, some of the people with a physician’s recommendation will still need to drive. Doing so after legally using marijuana could lead to criminal charges, despite the recommendation from a physician.
There is no formal chemical limit for medical marijuana
Those accused of drunk driving can easily develop a defense if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was lower than 0.08%. Unfortunately for medical marijuana patients in Florida, no similar limits exist for THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. In other words, simply failing a drug test after police stop you for suspected impaired driving could mean facing drunk driving charges.
The problem with the current marijuana testing approach is that there are no chemical tests that successfully demonstrate impairment from marijuana. Instead, they simply show that a person has used marijuana in the recent past.
However, heavy users, especially those who use concentrated forms of marijuana to treat their illnesses, could fail a drug test administered weeks or even months after the last dose. That is because unlike most other drugs, marijuana is not water-soluble. It is fat-soluble, which means doctors can detect it in your body for much longer. Inaccurate tests can leave innocent people facing serious charges.
Knowing the penalties helps you make better decisions
Anyone accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana, despite their medical recommendation, will likely face criminal consequences. The penalties for drugged driving are the same as drunk driving in Florida.
A first offense could result in up to six months in jail and fines of between $500 and $1,000. It is also possible for accused individuals to lose their driver’s license or to need to complete up to 50 hours of community service.
Those with a physician’s recommendation can face charges, but they also have an opportunity to fight them due to the limitations of current chemical testing methods.