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Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Illegal in Florida?

Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Illegal in Florida?

With the changing laws regarding medical cannabis in Florida, it may be unclear whether it’s legal to drive while under the influence of medicinal marijuana. In a statewide survey conducted in early 2018, more than one in three (36.5 percent) respondents said they are “not at all knowledgeable” about legal issues related to marijuana use and driving in Florida. Overall, about two in three (65.7 percent) respondents correctly said it is true that driving under the influence of marijuana is always illegal in Florida. Nearly one in four (23.2 percent) respondents were unsure whether driving under the influence of marijuana is always illegal in Florida.

No matter the reason you are using medicinal marijuana, it’s important to be aware of the laws regarding operating a motor vehicle in order to avoid being charged with driving under the influence (DUI). If you have been pulled over for a DUI stop and are taken into custody, you have the right to contact the top DUI lawyers in Clearwater

Can You Be Charged with a DUI for Marijuana Use While Driving? 

In short, yes. You can be charged with a DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana — even if the marijuana is being used legally. Driving while impaired by drugs (even legal prescription drugs) is illegal and subject to the same penalties as driving while impaired by alcohol.

Penalties of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

In Florida, the typical punishment for a first-time DUI conviction includes suspension of your driver’s license, payment of a fine, completion of DUI School, and probation. Although there is no mandatory jail for a first time DUI conviction, the judge does have the discretion to impose a county jail sentence. In addition, you may be required to perform community service hours and/or have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. Jail sentences are mandatory for most multiple offenders. View an in-depth chart detailing the recent update to the mandatory minimum DUI penalties here.

Even if you feel that you are a safe driver while using marijuana, the police may still attempt to arrest you, so it is crucial to contact the best DUI lawyers in Clearwater as soon as possible. 

Why Should I Get a DUI Lawyer?

Whether you feel you were guilty of a DUI or not, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be well-versed in the best defense for your case, whether it’s discovering a procedural issue or arguing against the use of a field sobriety test. Your attorney will also help ensure that you meet all necessary deadlines. If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI, contact the top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car?

Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car?

People often use driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) interchangeably, and the key that links both of these is the term “driving.” However, imagine for a moment that you are intoxicated and decide to sit in your vehicle with the engine running because it’s cold and you are hoping to warm up while calling a cab. Could you be arrested for a DWI in Florida just for sitting in your parked car?

The answer is complicated. In this post, the top DWI lawyers in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan discuss what you need to know about sitting in a parked car while under the influence. 

Operating vs. in Actual Physical Control

Although drunk parking is not a charge, you can be convicted of DWI or DUI if you are sitting in your parked vehicle while intoxicated. However, the prosecution still needs to prove the motorist was operating or in actual physical control of a vehicle. This means that both the police and the prosecutor must prove that you were either operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle. 

Actual physical control is satisfied if you are found inside the vehicle with the keys readily accessible and the capability to operate your vehicle. It is not necessary that you actually move the vehicle from one point to another. As a result, you can be charged with a DUI if you are found sitting or sleeping in your parked car and your car keys are located by law enforcement within the interior portions of your vehicle. 

In determining whether to make an arrest for DUI, the police will consider the “totality of the circumstances” in evaluating whether you were in “actual physical control.” Some factors that law enforcement will consider are::

  • The location of the driver: Was the alleged operator in the passenger seat or back seat? Were they in the driver’s seat leaned all the way back? This all matters, and what matters most is the proximity to the ignition. 
  • The location of the car: Was the car parked in your own driveway or a private parking lot? This is crucial because if the car was parked somewhere more dangerous, like the side of the highway or the middle of the sidewalk, it may be harder to prove that you were not operating the vehicle. 
  • The location of the keys: If the keys are in the ignition, this makes it more difficult to prove that you were not driving and had no intent to drive. Of course, this can be harder to prove with keyless entry or push-button ignition, but, in general, when the vehicle is running, it may be more difficult to prove your intent.
  • Whether the driver was awake or asleep: It’s pretty clear that you must be awake in order to operate a motor vehicle. If you are asleep, you may have an easier time providing that you were not driving at the time and were simply resting in your vehicle. 

Defenses for DWI in a Parked Vehicle

The best DWI attorneys in Clearwater have found that “actual physical control” cases tend to be weaker than those where the client was observed by law enforcement driving in a manner consistent with impairment, such as weaving, swerving, failing to maintain a single lane, or driving without headlights. However, whether you feel you were guilty of a DUI or DWI or not, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the best defense possible. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

Defense services for DUI and DWI offenses

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CONSULTATION

24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week

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What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop

What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop

If you are pulled over for a DUI stop, it can be incredibly stressful. Whether or not you are guilty, being pulled over can cause you to feel that you are doing something wrong, which can lead you to say or do things you might not normally do. During a traffic stop, you have rights and it is important to be aware of those rights in advance. Further, if you have been pulled over for a DUI stop and are taken into custody, you have the right to contact the best DUI lawyers in Clearwater

Right to Remain Silent

You may have heard people say “I plead the fifth” in reference to the fifth amendment, and in the case of a DUI you have the right to plead the fifth. The fifth amendment affords you the right to remain silent, even during a traffic stop. Often, when we are pulled over we feel the need to comply and overshare in order to prove our innocence, but police officers are analyzing and documenting everything you say and looking for any other possible violations. By asserting your right to silence, you are protecting yourself from accidentally creating future issues. 

Of course, in some cases a police officer might mistake your silence for non-compliance or hostility, so you don’t have to be completely silent. But, you do have the right to refuse to answer if you had any drinks or other substances. 

Right to Deny a Search of Your Vehicle

There is a common misconception in the State of Florida that you must consent to search of your vehicle if you are pulled over, however that is simply not the case. You have the right to deny a search of your vehicle without a search warrant. However, keep in mind that if you are arrested for a DUI offense, it is likely that the police have the lawful right to search your car to determine if there is any contraband related to the DUI within the vehicle.

Right to Decline a Field Sobriety Test

Just as you have the right to remain silent and deny a search of your vehicle, you have the right to decline a field sobriety test. These tests are inconclusive and unreliable at best, and are completely up to the officer’s discretion. Simply put, these tests would be difficult to perform if you were alone in your house. The pressure and stress of having to perform these tests as an audition for your freedom is likely to be overwhelming, and it’s unlikely that you will perform to the satisfaction of the police.

Do’s and Don’ts If You Are Pulled Over for a DUI

If you are pulled over for a DUI, there are a few simple do’s and don’ts to remember. Do: 

  • Keep your hands on the wheel when you are pulled over
  • Try to remain polite and non-combative 
  • Provide your driver’s license and insurance information. 

Do not: 

  • Get out of the car unless asked
  • Become argumentative or combative

When to Contact an Attorney

If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI, contact the top DUI lawyers Clearwater, with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible and to refrain from speaking to the police without a lawyer present. Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and help craft a defense, work on any potential plea bargains available, and will walk you through every step of the way. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

Defense services for DUI and DWI offenses

FREE
CONSULTATION

24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week

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What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in the state of Florida. You may have heard the terms DUI and DWI used interchangeably, but the result is the same: steep consequences. If you have been pulled over or charged with driving under the influence, it is important to speak with the best DWI attorneys in Clearwater. It is also important to understand the difference between a DUI and DWI and what the possible consequences are if you are charged and found guilty. 

Definitions of DUI and DWI in Florida

The state of Florida statutes chapter 316.193 states the following: 

(1) A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and:

(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;

(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or

(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

In the state of Florida, driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is used interchangeably with the term driving under the influence, or DUI. Although other states have different penalties for DWI and DUI, the state of Florida does not make a distinction between the two. 

Consequences of DUI or DWI

The consequences of a DUI or DWI are steep in Florida. If convicted, first-time offenders face a fine between $500 and $1000 and imprisonment of up to 6 months. A second conviction may result in a 9 month imprisonment and $2000 fine as well as mandatory placement of an ignition interlock device at the convicted person’s expense. A third offense within 10 years is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable with more extensive imprisonment and fines. Further, whether it is the first offense or any subsequent offenses, your driver’s license will suspended or revoked if convicted. 

What You Should Do If Arrested for DUI/DWI

If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI or DWI, contact the top DWI lawyers in Clearwater at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible and to refrain from speaking to the police without a lawyer present. Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and help craft a defense, work on any potential plea bargains available, and will walk you through every step of the way. 

For a free consultation with top DWI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

Defense services for DUI and DWI offenses

FREE
CONSULTATION

24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week