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New Medical Marijuana Law, Driving Laws, And You

On November 8th, 2016, Florida passed a law legalizing cannabis for medical uses. If you are currently using, or are thinking about using cannabis for medicinal purposes, or even if you use recreationally, here is what you need to know before getting behind the wheel.

In Florida, the same laws apply to driving under the influence of marijuana as they do to driving under the influence of alcohol. If you get pulled over after partaking in any product containing THC, a police officer will give you a field sobriety test if they suspect impairment.

The penalty for a person’s first DUI conviction in Florida is up to six months in jail, a fine of between $500-1000, or both. Penalties increase as the number of convictions a person has increases. If you cause death, serious injury, or property damage, the judge will impose monthly probation reporting requirements, mandatory community service, and the completion of a substance abuse course and psychological evaluation. That is in addition to harsher fines and prison time.

Don’t let this happen to you.

The science of testing for marijuana impairment is severely lacking. THC can stay in the bloodstream for much longer than alcohol, up to a week or more, depending on your usage. This is why giving an exact number of hours one must waiting to drive after using cannabis is difficult to establish. Some experts say 3 hours is enough, others prefer to be more conservative and recommend getting a good night’s sleep before driving.

While more scientific studies are needed when it comes to cannabis use and driving, current studies do suggest that driving with larger doses of THC in your system is dangerous.

Here is a list of potential negative side effects of driving while under the influence of cannabis:

  • Attentiveness. You may have a harder time concentrating on the road and playing attention to pedestrians, other vehicles, or important road signs.
  • Perception of speed. You may find yourself speeding or driving significantly under the speed limit. Both can be hazardous.
  • Perception of time. You feel like you’ve been driving forever, but in reality, you’ve only traveled a few miles. You might get confused of your whereabouts, affecting your ability to drive safely and at the correct speed.
  • Reaction time. Your ability to stop for a traffic light or pedestrians crossing the road might be delayed. Or you may not swerve in time to miss an obstacle or appropriately react to an accident happening right in front of you.

The take-home message here is to be as cautious as possible when you using marijuana. Designate a sober driver; use a taxi, other car service, or public transportation; or walk when possible and safe to do so. Your life and the lives of others are not worth the risk.

If you have been a victim of a driver who was under the influence of any substance, contact an attorney immediately. If you suffered personal injury or property damage, you should not have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. For related information, check out our page on getting justice for victims of drunk drivers.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

New Medical Marijuana Law, Driving Laws, And You

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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