Florida state law is explicit that those who are caught driving while using prescription drugs can be charged with and convicted of DUI. However, cases can be more complicated than a standard impaired driving charge for alcohol use. Police officers typically must have definitive reasonable suspicion before requesting a warrant for a blood test looking for drug presence in the system, as there is no specific activity test for many drugs such as alcohol. However, any level of drug activity can be problematic for defendants even without alcohol presence in the system.
Drug type and dosage can matter
One of the first issues will be the type of drug that is found in the system along with what time it was taken or administered. Certain classes of drugs such as barbiturates are known to impair the user shortly after consumption, and stronger dosages also have a more significant impact. Both the type and dosage could support officer testimony justifying a DUI citation.
Another issue with prescription drug DUI charges is that the mere presence of the drug does not mean it was effectively active at the time of the stop. Drug latency differs for some drugs, and especially marijuana that can be stored in fat cells for up to 30 days. They all generally have an initial active period with a half-life of several hours when they are not impacting the system. The mere presence of a particular drug does not necessarily indicate impairment, which could result in a charge being reduced to reckless driving or dismissed under certain circumstances.
It is important for all motorists who take prescription drugs to schedule times when they drive in accordance with doctor recommendations. Even the presence of a prescription drug could still result in a conviction in some cases, especially when being involved in an accident while the drug is present in the blood system.