Coming soon to Florida? Legalized Marijuana show sharp increases in DUI arrests

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An article in the CSM website shines some new light on marijuana legalization and DUI charges. Driving Under the Influence is not just for alcohol as 1000s are finding out the hardway…

In the state of Washington, marijuana has been legal since January of 2013. A new report shows an alarming rise in drug-based DUIs since then. In the first six months of 2013 745 people stopped for DUI in Washington have tested positive for marijuana. This is a marked increase from the average of the last two years, where around 1000 people per year had the drug in their system when arrested. There is aslo the possibility that these DUI drivers are driving more stoned then before the drug legalization. Over half of the people pulled over had more then the legal limit of 5 or more nanograms of THC in their blood.

State officials and law enforcement fear that this may be just the beginning. The increase in “drug driving” arrests took place despite the fact that recreational-use pot shops are not scheduled to be open until next year.

Washington D.C. and 20 states have allowed medical marijuana use and Colorado and Washington state allow recreational pot use. There are several more states (including Florida) that are debating whether or not to either decriminalize marijuana or allow it for medicinal purposes.

Supporters of the drug argue that arrests are not that much higher then before the new laws went into affect. Opponents of marijuana laws think otherwise.

Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes widespread drug use, said the results are not surprising.

“People are getting the impression that marijuana use is okay,” he said. “Even before one recreational store opens in Washington, we are already seeing the effects (of marijuana).”

A local criminal defense lawyer was asked to comment and blamed the state’s “stoned driving” standard, saying it encourages police to pull over more drivers suspected of marijuana use.
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LEGAL ANALYSIS

In Florida DUIs are covered under a specific statute. As mentioned on this blog before, the stereotype of the drunk weaving all over the road is not always accurate. A DUI conviction can be had by alcohol and/or any substance controlled by chapter 893 (the drug statute). This means that marijuana, cocaine, molly, oxycodone or any one of 1000s of drugs could affect one’s ability to drive a vehicle and potentially earn them a DUI.

What about Florida? If other states are a guide, it seems logical to guess that a relaxation of certain drug laws may bring with it an increase in other crime such as DUIs or other matters. Is the trade off worth it? That will be up to the voters and Tallahassee to decide.

Have you or a loved one been arrested for a DUI or drug possession? Then call the Saint Petersburg DUI attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. today! These former prosecutors are experienced trial lawyers.

Blake & Dorsten, P.A. handles all personal injury and criminal cases throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida including Saint Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, Bradenton, Gulfport, Indian Rocks, Tarpon Springs, Largo, New Port Richey and Dade City.

To speak directly with your Pinellas drug crimes defense attorney click on the contact button above or call them at (727)286.6141. Blake & Dorsten, P.A…when your case matters!

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