Florida Law On Operating A Motor Vehicle While High
With the passing and implementation of Amendment 2 in the State of Florida, the use of medical marijuana has become a controversial topic. Uncertainty over how exactly the use of medical marijuana will be regulated, and how obtaining a medical card will impact aspects of the patient’s life, is the subject of much debate. A major concern for both patients and those opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana is how exactly to determine when to appropriately arrest someone who is for driving while under the influence of marijuana, or “driving while high in Florida.”
Determining if someone is driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is often a fairly straightforward process. If the operator of the vehicle fails the sobriety test or blows above the legal limit of .08, the officer can then arrest the person and they will be charged with a DUI.
Driving while high in Florida
Currently, there is no legal standard to determine if someone is “driving while high in Florida.” on cannabis. In Florida, it is simply stated that a medical marijuana patient shall not be permitted to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. There is currently no limit for drug impairment, as there is with alcohol. Due to the nature of how THC is stored in fat cells and metabolized, blood samples and urine samples can test positive for THC despite the vehicle operator had not recently used marijuana. This is especially relevant for habitual marijuana users. Because of the inability to determine if the person is presently high based on a blood or urine sample, officers have had to rely on field sobriety tests which raises questions of reliability. In a 2012 study, it was determined that field sobriety tests (like the standard heel-toe walk) only catch about 30% of high drivers. As recently reported, law enforcement throughout the State of Florida has employed drug recognition experts that are working to determine how best to test someone during a traffic stop for impairment due to marijuana use.