Florida’s laws concerning DUIs define driving under the influence as having a blood alcohol content of .08% or more. But while it might be common to associate a DUI with drunk driving, the truth is that, not only alcohol, but many kinds of drugs and medicines can dangerously impair a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

However, unlike alcohol, drugs do not affect a person’s blood alcohol level, so the law states that a driver whose “normal faculties are impaired” by drugs is also subject to punishment. The law divides drugs into two categories: “harmful chemical substances” and “controlled substances”

What are Harmful Chemical Substances?

These are substances such as nitrous oxide, rubbing alcohol, and certain chemical solvents. These chemicals are typically inhaled, or “huffed,” to obtain a buzz or high.

What are Controlled Substances?

Florida lists hundreds of different substances that qualify as “controlled substances” that can impair the ability to drive. They generally include the following substances:

  1. Opioids and opiates, which include painkillers like Vicodin and oxycodone (also known as OxyContin), as well as substances such as heroin and fentanyl;
  2. Hallucinogens, such as LSD;
  3. Stimulants, such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA, also known as Ecstasy; and
  4. Cannabinoids, such as marijuana

Possible Penalties

The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are generally the same as for driving under the influence of alcohol. If someone gets pulled over, then these penalties can be up to 6 months in jail, a $500-$1,000 fine, 50 hours community service, and a 6-month suspension of a driver’s license, for a first offense, to up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine for a third offense (if the third offense occurs within ten years of the first offense).

When the consequences of violation of the law are so severe, it is important to be sure to consult with experts who know the law inside and out.  The attorneys at Epstein and Robbins have extensive experience obtaining the best possible outcomes for their clients, and they do so with passion for their clients and a singular focus on a fair outcome.