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Marijuana DUI

A charge of driving under the influence of marijuana carries the same severe penalties as a DUI involving alcohol. Police may force you to take a drug test, and traces of marijuana can appear up to a month after you last smoked weed.

For example, you could smoke marijuana while on vacation to a state where it is legal, or where you have a valid prescription prior to traveling to Florida, and then be forced to take a drug test by a police officer who thinks you may be driving while impaired. In such a situation, you could be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana even if you have not smoked in days.

Gainesville Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyer

Facing your driving under the influence of marijuana charge in Florida can be an overwhelming, stressful experience. The qualified marijuana DUI defense lawyers at the Galigani Law Firm in Gainesville have roughly 50 years of combined legal experience and know what it takes to expose any weak links in the prosecution's case to help your situation. Dean Galigani is Board Certified for professionalism and expertise in Criminal Trial Law and is experienced in all areas of criminal defense, including DUI charges involving marijuana.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Alachua County, Bradford County, Marion County, Levy County, Gilchrist County, Columbia County, Baker County, or Union County, put the years of experience and criminal defense specialization of the Galigani Law Firm behind your case. Your first consultation concerning your Gainesville marijuana DUI case with the Galigani Law Firm is free, so call (352) 375-0812 today to schedule your appointment.


Info on Cannabis and DUI


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Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Alachua County Defined

In Florida, you can be arrested for marijuana DUI if you are in actual physical control of a vehicle with your normal faculties impaired by marijuana. You can be arrested and charged even if you have a valid doctor's prescription for marijuana in your home state.

Actual physical control of a vehicle includes driving, but you can still be considered in actual physical control of a vehicle even if you are not driving it. Several factors contribute to a court's determination of whether you were in actual physical control of the vehicle, for example, your location in or around the car or truck, whether you had the keys in your possession or on your person, and whether the vehicle is drivable.

"Normal faculties" are defined by Fla. Stat. § 316.1934 as including the ability to see, walk, hear, talk, make judgments, and normally perform general mental and physical activities of daily life. If you lack full possession of your normal faculties, you are considered impaired under Florida law.

It is possible to be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana even if you have not smoked in days or weeks. If you are involved in an accident where a person claims to be injured, for example, if a child runs out into the road or a car suddenly pulls in front of you, the police may force a drug test.

Marijuana from a month ago may still show up. You could then face serious penalties resulting from a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana causing bodily injury.

It is entirely possible to be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Gainesville or the surrounding area if a police officer claims your faculties are impaired even if you were not smoking while driving, or if you were napping in your car while parked in a friend's driveway. No matter the circumstances surrounding your marijuana DUI charge, whether you were driving or met other elements under Florida law, the advice of an experienced marijuana DUI defense lawyer serving the Gainesville area is highly recommended.


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Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Florida

The penalties that come with a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida are the same as those for a conviction of a DUI involving alcohol, which are severe and can vary based on the circumstances of your individual situation. Under Fla. Stat. § 316.193, a first conviction for marijuana DUI results in penalties of:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • $500-$1,000 fine;
  • 50 hours of community service, up to half of which the court may allow you to "buy out" as prescribed in Fla. Stat. § 316.193(6)(a) at a rate of $10 an hour;
  • Immobilization or impoundment of your vehicle for ten days, which will occur while you are out of jail;
  • 6-12 months of a driver's license revocation, separate from any administrative penalties; and
  • Level I or Level II DUI school, which may include an evaluation for drug abuse as well as mandate continued treatment.

Driving under the influence of marijuana, like any DUI involving illegal drugs or alcohol, is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor even if you have no prior convictions, which means you will be required to disclose it on most Florida job applications. It can, therefore, affect your future educational and professional opportunities. If you are considering the services of an experienced Gainesville area driving under the influence of marijuana defense lawyer as a part of your defense strategy, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.


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Enhanced Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Some factors are considered aggravating circumstances for any DUI charge. If you were accompanied by a minor while driving under the influence of marijuana, your marijuana DUI penalties will be enhanced to:

  • Up to a year in jail; and
  • $2,000-$4,000 in fines.

You face more severe penalties if you have previously been convicted of DUI or any similar drug or alcohol related driving offenses anywhere in the country, even if this is the first marijuana DUI or first DUI of any type you have been charged with in Florida. According to Florida Statute § 316.193, any previous DUI conviction in Florida or any previous conviction outside Florida for “driving under the influence,” “driving while intoxicated,” “driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level,” “driving with an unlawful breath-alcohol level,” “driving while ability impaired by alcohol,” or any other similar alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offense is considered a “previous conviction” that will result in increased penalties for a conviction of driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida.

You face even more severe penalties if you are accused of causing or even contributing to cause property damage, injury, or death.


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Defenses to a Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Charge

Some defenses may be available to fight a charge of driving under the influence of marijuana. The prosecution must prove that your faculties were actually “impaired” and not just “weakened.” Just testing positive for marijuana may not be sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were “impaired” or "under the influence" of marijuana.

You can point out that just because marijuana shows up in a urine test, it does not mean you were under the influence of the marijuana while you were driving. Marijuana can still show up in your urine after it has passed completely out of your bloodstream, and you are no longer under the influence of the marijuana. Marijuana can even show up in tests a month after you last smoked weed because THC is stored in your body's fat cells. Also, many labs test for a different type of THC than the type of THC that can indicate impaired driving.

It is also possible to test positive for marijuana even if you have never smoked marijuana. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, second-hand smoke, and even certain medical conditions can result in a false positive test result for marijuana use.

If the prosecution attempts to use a field sobriety test against you, such as an eye movement test using a penlight, you may be able to explain that illness, disability, anxiety, sleep deprivation, or other medical issues were causing your problems, not marijuana.

If the police officer testifying against you is not a trained and certified Drug Recognition Technician or Drug Recognition Expert, the testimony of the officer can be shown to be unreliable.

You may also point out that just because you have marijuana in the car, it does not mean you were under the influence of marijuana.

An experienced marijuana DUI defense lawyer serving the Gainesville area can help you fight against these charges and any enhanced penalties following an arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana.


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Galigani Law Firm | A Marijuana DUI Attorney in Alachua County Florida

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in Gainesville or the surrounding areas, including Alachua County, Ocala in Marion County, and Lake City in Columbia County, contact the experienced marijuana DUI defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm. They will do whatever it takes to fight for a favorable outcome to your Gainesville area driving under the influence of marijuana case. To schedule a free initial marijuana DUI case consultation with Galigani Law Firm, call (352) 375-0812 today.