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Drug-induced DUIs: The legal repercussions of driving impaired

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Drug Charges, Drunk Driving

To face driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Florida, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level has to be at least .08%. However, there’s more than one way to get intoxicated apart from alcohol. Certain drugs and controlled substances can also impair a driver’s ability and lead to DUI charges.

Which controlled substances lead to DUIs?

According to Florida law, a person commits DUI if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating chemical or controlled substance.

The state has lists of controlled substances categorized by their level of potential abuse and medical use. Some of the more common controlled substances that can impair driving include cocaine, meth, opioids, antihistamines, and even certain cough medicines. These substances can cause inebriation or stimulation, impairing a driver’s motor skills and judgment.

Legal standards for drug impairment

Unlike alcohol, where the legal limit is .08% BAC, law enforcement officers determine drug impairment based on observation and test results.

Officers will look for the following behaviors, which could signal drug impairment:

  • Erratic driving, such as swerving or abrupt stopping
  • Slow reaction times
  • Impaired coordination or motor skills
  • Altered mental state or confusion

Law enforcement might also conduct field sobriety tests and blood tests to see if any substances are in the driver’s system.

Penalties for drug DUI

The penalties for a drug-induced DUI are the same for an alcohol-induced one. A first-time offender will face the following penalties on conviction:

  • As much as $1,000 in fines
  • Up to six months of imprisonment
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Up to 10 days of vehicle impoundment

In addition, the driver might also face administrative penalties such as revoking their license for up to a year.

Drugs and other controlled substances that can impair your ability to operate a vehicle can lead to DUIs. Florida makes no distinction between drug and alcohol DUIs, so you can even face charges and penalties for cold medicine that makes you too sleepy to drive. Consider consulting a legal professional if you find yourself on the receiving end of allegations because a conviction can lead to fines and jail time.