Areas in Florida We Represent
When you are charged with a DUI & Marijuana charge, seek the legal assistance of a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) in Florida
However, the state of Florida has professional Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) on the police force who are specifically trained to decipher when a driver may be impaired.
A DRE in the state of Florida is a member of law enforcement who has undergone extensive training and education surrounding recreational drug use. DRE officers receive special certification from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. They are trained in determining whether an individual is under the influence of drugs or narcotics and identifying what specific drug or category of drug may be causing the impairment. These officers also receive training on many different medical conditions to rule these out as a possible cause of behavior and symptoms during a traffic stop.
In the state of Florida, DREs undergo 80 hours of educational training where they learn about field sobriety tests, typical vital signs, human behavior, and biology and physiology. Each member of law enforcement must pass multiple exams to demonstrate proficiency in the material. Then, following the academic coursework, each officer must complete specific actions in their direct line of duty within a six-month time span.
These items include:
- Conducting a specified number of drug and alcohol evaluations under a certified instructor's supervision.
- Obtaining two letters of recommendation from DRE certified members of law enforcement.
- Passing a final comprehensive exam.
The Role of DRE Officers in Court
DRE officers play a unique role in marijuana DUI cases. First, a DRE officer may arrive at the scene of your traffic stop to question you and to administer field sobriety tests. While the state of Florida operates under what is known as "implied consent," meaning that any person operating a motor vehicle inherently agrees to submit to lawful sobriety tests, you do not have to answer any further questions without a marijuana DUI lawyer present.
Additionally, the police department will likely have a DRE officer testify during your court case. They may speak to evidence collected at the scene, observations of your behavior, and more.
Challenging the Testimony of a DRE Officer
An experienced DUI and marijuana lawyer will know how to cross-examine a DRE officer in a court of law effectively. This may be crucial in proving your innocence and avoiding a conviction since judges and juries often rely heavily on such testimony when making a decision.
First, your criminal defense attorney may file a motion with the courts to exclude a DRE officer's testimony. Next, they may gather evidence that points to another medical or mental health condition that may have caused your behavior or symptoms instead of marijuana. Third, they may question the accuracy, credibility, and certainty of law enforcement's observations.
If you receive a criminal charge for a marijuana DUI, do not wait to find out if the state will have a DRE officer testify in court. Contact a marijuana DUI lawyer immediately to begin building a case in your defense.
Types of Related Marijuana Charges
Since recreational marijuana is not legal in the state of Florida, a marijuana DUI charge may come with additional criminal offenses. Additionally, while medicinal marijuana is legal, strict guidelines dictate how the substance may be purchased, stored, and transported. Should you have a prescription for medical marijuana and receive a marijuana DUI, do not assume that the courts will understand the mistake and issue a correction. Seek the help of an experienced attorney right away.
Along with marijuana DUI charges, you may see other criminal offenses added to your case. The most common types of related charges include:
Possession of Marijuana
- Misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the weight of the substance
- Active or constructive possession, depending on the location of the substance at the time of the arrest
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Misdemeanor charge
- Under Florida Statute Section 893.145, the term “drug paraphernalia” is defined as materials, products or equipment used to cultivate, plant, grow, manufacture, store, conceal, transport, ingest, inhale, or put into the body any controlled substance
- May include pipes, papers, empty bags, scales, and more
Possession of Drugs With The Intent To Sell
- Felony charge
- Based on the weight and packaging of the substance present at the time of the arrest
- Misdemeanor charge
- Categorized by driving marked by a disregard for other drivers and pedestrians on the road
- Extra penalties and upgraded charges if you are arrested in a school zone or the presence of minors
- And more
Penalties for a Marijuana DUI Conviction
The penalties for a marijuana DUI conviction can be severe. Additionally, other charges you incur at the same time may carry additional consequences separate from the DUI sentencing. Individuals convicted of a marijuana DUI may face the revocation of their driver's license, time in jail, court-ordered counseling or drug rehabilitation, probation, pre-trial diversion programs, mandated community service hours, and more.
A marijuana DUI conviction will go on your criminal record. It will appear on background checks completed by potential landlords and future employers, and the charge may cost you housing or job opportunities in the future. Furthermore, some companies and industries have specific policies that forbid hiring individuals with DUI convictions or drug charges on their records.
Other consequences include a tarnished reputation, hefty court fines, and more. If you have children, you may encounter challenges to your custody. If children are in the car at the time of your arrest, you may open yourself to a Department of Family Services investigation.
A DUI and marijuana lawyer can help you avoid these steep consequences. By building a case that proves your innocence, you may be able to get your charges either dismissed entirely or reduced to a lesser charge that does not carry such severe ramifications.
Florida Statute §316.193 for Marijuana Impairment
Florida Statute §316.193 outlines the law regarding the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state. The statute states that a first-time conviction can land you in jail for up to six months. Subsequent convictions then carry longer jail sentences. Fines start at a minimum of $500 for a first-time conviction and then increase with the following arrests.
When considering the statute for an alcohol-related DUI, it outlines the blood alcohol content that must be present for a person to be charged. In the state of Florida, an individual over the age of 21 years old may legally operate a motor vehicle with a BAC under 0.08. However, since marijuana is an illegal drug that is never legal to consume for recreational purposes, there is no "cut off" amount for a marijuana DUI. This means that whether a person is impaired after taking one puff of marijuana or many puffs of marijuana, they may be arrested and charged the same.
According to the statute, a first-time marijuana DUI charge is a misdemeanor offense as long as there are no extenuating circumstances. However, suppose you are in a school zone, injure another person, cause property damage, get into a car accident, or have a minor with you at the time of your arrest. In that case, the charge may be upgraded to a felony, or you may receive additional offenses with further penalties.
While a first-time marijuana DUI is often a misdemeanor, recurrent marijuana DUI charges may be deemed felonies even if there are no further extenuating circumstances surrounding the arrest. Once you have a felony drug conviction on your record, you will face time in prison, the mandate to relinquish your weapons and firearms to law enforcement, and you may have to forfeit your right to vote. A DUI and marijuana lawyer can help make sure this does not happen and protect your rights in a court of law.
Contacting an Attorney for Marijuana DUI in Florida
If you are facing criminal charges for a marijuana DUI in Florida, contact Weinstein Legal today and ask for defense attorney Matt Shafran. When you call Weinstein Legal, we will provide you with a free case evaluation entirely free of obligation to review the facts of your case. Our phone lines are open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, so there is never a time when your call for help will go unanswered. When you hire the team at Weinstein Legal for defense in a marijuana DUI case, there will never be a time when you do not have access to your attorney.
Hiring a marijuana DUI lawyer gives you the best chance to beat the charge in a court of law, stay out of jail, and keep your driving privileges intact. You may be able to have your marijuana DUI charge reduced entirely or have your charges significantly reduced. This can help preserve many of your freedoms as well as your current lifestyle. Don't risk facing the courts alone.
Every day that passes is another day that the prosecution is building their case against you. You deserve the same aggressive legal representation. Marijuana DUI Lawyer Matt Shafran is ready to fight for you to ensure you have the best possible outcome in a court of law. Get started working on your case today.