Bill Introduced to Criminalize Driving and Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Marijuana

In most states around the country, there is a major concern about the number of people who have been injured or killed as a result of drinking and driving. However, as more and more states are permitting or decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, legislators are looking to ensure public safety by criminalizing any individual who drives while under the influence of marijuana. At the same time, Florida recently passed a constitutional amendment that would broaden the number of medical conditions eligible for treatment using medical marijuana. In Florida, where a majority of the state is surrounded by water, automobiles are not the only vessels that are causing legislators concerns about operators who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving or motoring while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) Act

On January 12, a bill was submitted to the Legislature of Florida that would criminalize the use of marijuana and other drugs while operating a boat. The bill is known more colloquially as the Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) Act. The introduced bill is seeks to deter and penalize any person who is driving or boating under the influence of any drug, with a specific amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in one’s system. THC is the active chemical in marijuana that induces euphoria and the feeling of being high.

DUID’s Mandated Blood Levels for Alcohol and THC

According to the bill, a person violates this Act when he or she is driving or is in actual physical control of the vessel (either a car or a boat) while in Florida. To be criminal, the person is in violation of the law if he or she has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath or the blood level of the individual is at least 5 nanograms or more of THC per millimeter of blood. Any violators of the law may face a fine between $500 to $1000 dollars, and with the possibility of jail time for at least six months for the first offense.

Possible Concerns Surrounding the Bill

Though the bill mandates that a person’s blood should be tested for the presence of THC in his or her blood, but there are worries that this does not accurately show to what extent a person is intoxicated. For one, many experts state that THC does not peak like alcohol, where a person’s inebriation can be tested by his or her blood-alcohol content. THC builds in the bloodstream of habitual marijuana users, which could mean that someone who is not actually high at the time of the police stop may fail a blood test. Additionally, the form of the marijuana affects the extent to which there is THC in the bloodstream. For example, marijuana that is baked into brownies and cookies does not enter the bloodstream in the same way that marijuana that is smoked would. Overall, the federal National Highway and Traffic Safety Organization has stated that there is currently no way to determine how high a person is just through analyzing the amount of THC that has built up in the person’s bloodstream.

Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.