Up to this point we’ve focused on alcohol DUIs, which are the more common type. But it is just as illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, whether legal or not. The problem (for the prosecutor) is that there are no accurate tests to prove impairment by drugs and no standards have been established to determine just how much of a particular drug you need to have taken to actually be impaired by it.
Unlike alcohol, some drugs, marijuana included, will stay in your blood in quantities sufficient to generate a positive test long after the effect has worn off—even for several weeks. In the case of prescription drugs, painkillers and other opiate or opioid drugs, for example, whether used legally or illegally, there is no accurate way to quantify how much can cause impairment sufficient to interfere with one’s ability to drive safely. Furthermore, nearly everyone takes prescription or over-the-counter drugs, at least occasionally. No one expects them to place their lives on hold because of a legal prescription written by a doctor, or a remedy that has been approved for over-the-counter sale.
Most police officers do not have the expertise to recognize when a person is impaired by medication. Some law enforcement personnel are trained as drug recognition experts, but these are few and far between. A dashboard camera during a field sobriety test may seem to record evidence of any kind of substance impairment, but a driver can and should refuse to perform the physical tasks of the FST, which research has found to be unreliable, producing large numbers of false positives.
The bottom line here is that if police stop you and ask you to perform a Field Sobriety Test and you have recently taken medication, if you politely refuse, they will have little to go on in terms of hard evidence. Your experienced Florida DUI attorney will have the means and the information to use in preparing a persuasive case to a jury that a prosecutor has no definitive proof that you were impaired by drugs at the time of your arrest. But you should always have a lawyer who regularly handles DUI cases. Call St. Petersburg DUI attorney Stephen Maltezos, who has achieved positive results for his drug-related DUI clients. As a former DUI prosecutor, Steve knows how to protect your rights and provide you with a powerful and aggressive defense, and he is committed to achieving the best results for every client he represents.