Even with the advent of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, driving under the influence remains one of the most common criminal offenses charged in the State of Florida. DUIs also run the gamut from relatively minor misdemeanor offenses to serious felonies depending on the circumstances. And when most people think about the criminal charge of DUI, they automatically equate the offense with “drinking and driving.” What many people often overlook is the fact that drinking and driving, on its own, is not illegal. Having a drink of alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car is not inherently illegal. Even drinking while driving is merely a traffic citation. An experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney can help you to better understand these distincitons.
In any DUI prosecution, the State must prove beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt that the defendant in the case was driving a motor vehicle, and while driving, was under the influence of alcohol or some other controlled substance to the point his or her normal faculties were impaired. Normal faculties are defined by the courts as the ability to walk, talk, operate a motor vehicle and follow instructions. We all know how alcohol can affect those normal faculties. Alcohol can affect one’s balance, motor skills, and cognition.
While alcohol is often the first impairing substance that people think of when discussing driving under the influence, it is important to remember that the Florida DUI law prohibits driving under the influence of both alcohol and any other chemical or controlled substance. This means both legal and illegal substances that cause impairment can result in a DUI charge. For example, people charged with drug related DUIs have been found to be under the influence of illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin or marijuana. An increasing number of DUI cases are arising from the use and abuse of legal prescription drugs. Medications like xanax and prescription opiods can cause serious impairment and, though legal to consume, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of such medication.Elements Of Drug DUI
The elements of a drug dui are substantially similar to that of a typical alcohol related offense. The state must prove that the driver of a motor vehicle was impaired by a chemical or controlled substance to the point his or her normal faculties were impaired. The primary differences between a drug and alcohol related DUI is how the cases are proven in court. For alcohol DUIs, police will often be required to request a breath or blood test to determine the blood alcohol level of a suspect. If a sample is taken and the blood alcohol level is 0.08 or above, the defendant is presumed guilty of DUI.
No such presumption exists in drug related DUI cases, which can be a boon for defendants. For example, if a defendant is arrested for DUI under suspicion of being under the influence of marijuana, the police are permitted to request a urine sample from the arrestee. Because of the science behind testing for the presence of drugs other than alcohol, these types of tests are not always relevant. While a urine test can certainly tell an investigator that someone has consumed an illicit drug, it cannot determine accurately when that drug was introduced into the persons system. Alcohol levels will rise and fall giving an accurate idea of how intoxicated a person his. Conversely, cocaine or marijuana could show up in a sample a month after ingestion and long after the intoxicating effects have worn off. If you are charged with a drug related DUI, you should seek out a Sarasota DUI defense lawyer with experience dealing with the specific issues of those cases.Speak To Our Lawyers Today
The specialized Sarasota DUI defense lawyers at Hanlon Law are here to help build the best defense for you. Call us today at 941.462.1789.