Alcohol isn’t the only basis for a DUI. You can be arrested and charged with a DUI for controlled substances, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs.
If you were pulled over by police in Tampa, arrested, and then charged with driving under the influence of drugs (drug DUI), call a lawyer right away. Fighting a DUI is possible, but it is difficult to do alone. By working with an experienced drug DUI attorney from Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A., you have someone by your side who knows the ins and outs of Florida DUI law and the most effective defense strategies.
Why You Should Hire Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A.
Brett Metcalf is a seasoned and successful DUI defense attorney in Tampa. He began his legal career as a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office where he tried over 5,000 cases. His experience on the other side of the courtroom for DUIs gave Brett a leg up when opening his private defense firm in July 2012. Since then, he has used his in-depth knowledge and experience of Florida DUI law to obtain many of his clients dismissals and acquittals.
Brett’s success has caught the attention of well-respected legal organizations. The National Trial Lawyers named him as part of the Top 40 Under 40 and the Top 100 Trial Lawyers. SuperLawyers named him a Rising Start in 2018. He also has received more than 70 five-star client reviews and a perfect 10 rating on Avvo.com.
Defending Against a Drug DUI
There are many potential defenses to a drugs DUI. Your drugs DUI lawyer will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you, including reviewing all of the prosecutor’s evidence. Based on the facts of your case, your defense attorney will determine the most effective strategy for avoiding charges, winning a dismissal, or obtaining an acquittal at trial.
Possible drug DUI defenses include:
- Lack of probable cause for a traffic stop
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Sobriety/DUI checkpoint failed to comply with standards
- Not in actual physical control of a vehicle
- Blood or urine test results are inaccurate or unreliable
- Field sobriety test results are unreliable
- Insufficient evidence of impairment
- Adverse and unforeseeable drug reaction
How to Fight a DUI Charge for Prescription Drugs
If you are arrested for a DUI, but you only had your valid prescription medication in your system, call a drug DUI lawyer immediately. We will work with the prosecutor to prove you had a valid prescription and were taking the medication as advised by your physician. We will fight for you to avoid charges altogether.
A prescription is not a permission slip to drive while impaired due to your medication. You can be convicted of a drugs DUI for a valid prescription. That being said, it is not easy for a prosecutor to prove. We will strive to prove you were not impaired by your medication and win a dismissal or acquittal.
Florida Drug DUI Law
The prohibition against driving while impaired by drugs is found in the Florida Statutes 316.193. The DUI statute says it is unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any chemical substance under 877.111, or any controlled substance under Chapter 893 to such an extent that your normal faculties are impaired.
Florida Statute 877.111 prohibits the inhalation, ingestion, possession, sale, purchase, or transfer of chemical substances that will intoxicate you or distort or disturb your auditory, visual, or mental processes. This is a broad category of substances. Essentially, anything that can get you high and impair your ability to drive can lead you to getting a drug DUI.
To be convicted of a drug DUI, the prosecutor must establish that there was a controlled substance or other chemical in your system and that this impaired your normal faculties in some way. Testing positive for a drug is not enough. There must be evidence that your ability to safely operate a vehicle was impaired because of that drug.
The prosecution also can seek to admit your answers to an officer’s questions or anything else you said or did during the traffic stop, during your booking, and after you were arrested and charged. This is why it is essential to protect yourself from the very beginning. If you are arrested for a drug DUI, you should invoke your right to remain silent and ask for a drug DUI lawyer.
Under Florida Statute 316.1932, when you drive a vehicle in Florida, you are deemed to have given your consent to submit to a chemical or physical test to determine the alcohol content of your breath or blood if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI.
Because of Florida’s implied consent law, you are technically required to agree to a breath, urine, or blood test if arrested for a DUI. If you refuse, you face a civil driver’s license suspension. A first-time refusal results in a one-year license suspension. A second refusal leads to an 18-month suspension.
Refusing a breath test after a DUI arrest can also lead to harsher criminal penalties. A second-time refusal can be charged as a separate misdemeanor offense.
If you are asked to submit to a warrantless blood test, you can face the civil driver’s license suspension. However, you cannot face criminal penalties.
Fighting a Civil License Suspension
An administrative driver’s license suspension after refusing to submit to a chemical test is a civil penalty, and you have to appeal the decision through the civil process. This is not a criminal penalty you will deal with in court along with the drug DUI charges.
There is a brief window of time for fighting an administrative license suspension: 10 days.
After 10 days, a failure to ask for an administrative hearing means your license suspension will go into effect. You will have to wait for several months to pass before you could seek a hardship license.
Do not wait to call a drug DUI attorney and fight an administrative license suspension, contact Brett Metcalf today.
Field Sobriety Tests
An officer can pull you over if they have reasonable suspension that you are committing a crime, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Once they have you stopped, they have to look for clues that you are impaired. When they ask you questions, they will observe not only your answers, but also whether you are slurring your words, have red or glazed eyes, or small like alcohol or marijuana.
Another way an officer will look for evidence of impairment is by asking you to complete one or more field sobriety tests. There are three field sobriety tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One-Leg Stand Test:
The officer will ask you to stand with one foot several inches off the ground while you count aloud starting with one thousand. The officer will tell you when to stop.
The officer will ask you to walk nine steps, touching one heel to toe each step. The officer will instruct you to turn on one foot and return in the same manner.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test:
The officer will ask you to look at a small object and track it with your eyes as they move it back and forth. The officer will look for whether your eyes have a pronounced jerking motion when looking at a significant peripheral angle.
Do I Have to Perform a Field Sobriety Test?
No, you are not required by Florida law to submit to any field sobriety tests. You can refuse without fear of any civil or criminal penalties.
Refusing to perform any field sobriety tests can help your case. It limits the evidence the police can gain to use against you for an arrest. It also limits the evidence a prosecutor can use against you in court.
If you submitted to a field sobriety test, do not assume you will be convicted. These tests are not reliable, and we have experience actively fighting against field sobriety test results in court.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
The penalty you face for a drug DUI depends on whether this is your first, second, or a multiple DUI offense.
First Drug DUI
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Fine between $500 and $1,000
- 50 hours of community service
- Up to 1 year of probation
- Driver’s license revocation between 180 days and 1 year
- 10-day vehicle impoundment
- Level 1 DUI school
Second Drug DUI
- Up to 9 months in jail
- Fine between and $1,000 and $2,000
- Up to 1 year of probation
- Driver’s license revocation between 180 days and 1 year
- 30-day vehicle impoundment
- 1 year of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- Level 2 DUI school
Third Drug DUI in 10 Years/Felony DUI
- Up to 5 years in prison with a minimum of 30 days in jail
- Fine between $2,000 and $5,000
- 90-day vehicle impoundment
- 10-year license revocation
- 2 years of an ignition interlock device
- Level 3 DUI school
Contact a Drug DUI Attorney Today
You never have to face DUI charges alone, whether you are accused of being impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both. There are many ways to defend against a DUI charge, even if you tested positive for a controlled substance, prescription medication, or OTC drug. Let Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A. fight for you.