Ocala Criminal Defense Attorneys Choose the Powerful Defense of Dunham & Ingram

Have You Violated Florida's DUI & Drugs Policy?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, amounting to one fatality every 51 minutes. The NHTSA reports that alcohol-impaired collisions cost more than $37 billion each year, and that drunk driving is a symptom of alcohol misuse and abuse. While drunk driving is a global epidemic, the actual number of drunk driving arrests has decreased in recent years while the number of drugged driving arrests has been on the rise, many of which are linked to prescription medications.

In Florida, driving under the influence is covered under § 316.193 of the Florida Statues. Under this section, a person is guilty of driving under the influence when he or she is driving or in "actual physical control" in the state of Florida and is under the influence of alcohol beverages, or any chemical substance set forth in section 877.111, or any controlled substance under chapter 893, and when the person's normal faculties are impaired.

There is a long list of hundreds of controlled substances under chapter 893 standards and schedules, all of which are listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • Heroin
  • Cannabis
  • Mescaline
  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Testosterone
  • Diazepam

This is a very short list of the types of controlled substances that one can be driving on and considered to be "impaired." There are literally hundreds of illegal street drugs and lawfully prescribed drugs included in the lengthy list of controlled substances. What many people don't realize is that many lawfully prescribed prescription medications can negatively influence their ability to safely drive a vehicle, especially on public roads. When you observe that your medication warns you against operating heavy machinery while on the medication, it's important to view this has a red flag.

There are a number of prescription medications that cause drowsiness. For example, barbiturates are central nervous system depressants (CNS), which are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, tension, and epilepsy and sleep disorders. CNS depressants are referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers because they slow down normal brain function. Some of the most commonly prescribed barbiturates are Mebbaral and Nembutal.

Benzodiazepines are also in the CNS depressant family and these are commonly prescribed to treat acute stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and convulsions and sleep disorders. Common benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Librium and ProSom. These can decrease brain activity and produce a drowsy effect in anxious or restless people.

Other concerns are prescription sleeping pills such as Abien, Lunesta and Sonata, all of which are frequently abused and can be highly addictive. Some people who use these medications report not being able to fall asleep without them; therefore, the chances of the drug being in their system on a continuous basis are greater.

Opioids, which are commonly prescribed to treat pain because of their analgesic effects are powerful drugs that can easily be addictive and abused. Opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Kadian, and Aninza can cause drowsiness, while muscle relaxers such as Baclofen, Tizanidine and Zanaflex can be easily abused and addictive as well.

In today's day and age when prescription drugs are not only as addictive as illicit street drugs, but they are becoming more widely available and affordable as more people have access to health insurance through their work or through government plans, more and more people are not only on prescription medications but many are driving under the influence of these substances. If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or a combination thereof, I urge you to contact my firm, Christopher L. Dunham, P.A.

If you are convicted of a first time DUI in Florida, you could be facing up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail. Not only are these repercussions severe, but how would your job, your family and your future employment and housing opportunities be affected by a permanent criminal record? Should you go with my firm, I will assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case in order to determine the best course of action to take. By allowing me to step in you can be confident that your rights and future will be protected to the best of my abilities. To learn more about the types of defense strategies I might use in your DUI case, contact my firm today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.