Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 1:04 pm
If you’re like most adults over the age of 18, you’ve heard about “marijuana decriminalization.” Essentially, decriminalization means that if someone is caught possessing marijuana for personal consumption for the first time, they will not be arrested, they won’t be sent to jail or prison, and they won’t acquire a criminal record.
Some of the states that have fully or partially decriminalized marijuana include California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Vermont, Mississippi, Connecticut, Maine, and Maryland. Florida however, is NOT on the list and one of the main reasons for this is that Florida, like Texas, has a significant drug trafficking problem.
Florida is a Gateway for Illegal Drugs
“Florida’s proximity to drug-producing and transshipment countries and its well-developed transportation infrastructure make it an ideal gateway for the movement of both licit and illicit goods into and through the United States. Drug transporters frequently use maritime vessels, commercial and private aircraft, and package delivery services to smuggle illicit drugs into Florida.
“They also use commercial trucks and private vehicles and, to a lesser extent, buses and railcars to transport drugs into the state. Many of these conveyances also are used to transport illicit drugs from Florida to other states and cities–particularly New York and Atlanta–that serve as major transportation hubs and distribution centers for various illicit drugs,” according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida Drug Threat Assessment.
In light of the above, marijuana possession is still illegal in Florida, unless they are a Florida resident who holds a Florida medical marijuana card and possess only what they’ve been prescribed (like any other prescription). For those who do not have a marijuana card, the penalties for marijuana possession in Florida are as follows:
- Possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Possession of more than 20 grams to 25 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Possession of more than 25 pounds but less than 2000 pounds is a felony, punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $25,000.
Are you facing marijuana charges? If so, we urge you to contact the Morris Firm at once to schedule a consultation. With extensive experience defending marijuana cases, we stand ready to fight zealously on your behalf.
Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 1:03 pm
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is the one crime that is commonly committed by non-criminals. Meaning, people who don’t have a previous criminal history or who don’t typically engage in criminal behavior. As such, we often see normal people get arrested for DUI, including mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, retail associates, salespeople, and other average folks. We also see Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) arrested for DUI.
For the purposes of this article, we discuss what happens when a permanent resident is convicted of DUI in Florida, and whether a DUI conviction can lead to removal proceedings, which used to be called “deportation.”
Criminal Convictions & Removal Proceedings
When immigrants come to the United States to live for an extended period of time or to eventually become U.S. citizens, they are expected to be responsible members of our communities. When a Green Card holder violates U.S. state or federal laws, it can jeopardize their lawful permanent resident status. Since most Green Card holders are well-aware of this fact, it’s natural for them to wonder if a DUI will lead to deportation.
Does a DUI conviction automatically lead to removal proceedings? No, not necessarily but it depends on the facts of the case. Generally, a first-time DUI offense under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes will not trigger removal proceedings. However, that is not guaranteed. It can happen.
Under the following circumstances, a Florida DUI can be viewed negatively by an immigration judge and initiate removal proceedings:
- It was a felony DUI offense;
- It was a drug-related DUI, for example, the Green Card holder was driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, or another controlled substance;
- The Green Cardholder was previously convicted for a drug-related offense;
- The Green Cardholder has previous DUI convictions on their record; OR
- The Green Cardholder has a criminal history and this DUI is the final straw.
To learn more about deportable offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), click here.
As a general rule, if the Green Card holder has no criminal history, it was a first DUI offense (not drug-related), and there were no aggravated circumstances (no children in the vehicle and no one was hurt), the DUI should not trigger removal proceedings.
On the other hand, if the Green Card holder is charged with felony DUI, or if it’s a drug-related DUI, or if the defendant has a criminal history, the DUI could lead to deportation. It’s fact-specific and handled on a case-by-case basis.
We hope this article cleared up any questions that you have. If you’re looking for DUI defense representation, don’t hesitate to contact the Morris Firm for a case evaluation by calling (850) 503-2626.
Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 2019 at 12:48 pm
A large number of Americans are taking at least one, if not several medications at any given time. The number of citizens taking prescription drugs has grown so much that it has caused a serious concern over drugged driving. What a lot of people don’t realize is that drugged driving, even if it’s associated with lawfully prescribed medications, can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
“Drugged driving is driving a vehicle while impaired due to the intoxicating effects of recent drug use. It can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at serious risk,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Why Drugged Driving Is Dangerous
Certain drugs directly affect driving skills because of how they act in the brain. Some drugs, such as marijuana, impair a person’s judgment and slow reaction time. They can also decrease the driver’s coordination. Then there are other medications that cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, aggression, and reckless driving.
According to the NIDA, prescription drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines impair thinking and judgment and can cause drowsiness and dizziness. With some medications, even the smallest amount can have a measurable effect, which is why a person can face driving under the influence (DUI) charges if there is “any amount” of a drug in a driver’s blood or urine.
While not all drugs affect driving ability, some definitely do. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the types of medications that make it dangerous to drive include the following:
- Anxiety medications
- Some antidepressants
- Medicines that contain codeine
- Some cold and allergy medications
- Sleeping pills
- Pain relievers
- Medications with stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine
To learn more about drugged driving from the FDA, click here.
In Florida, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs. You can face the same DUI penalties for driving under the influence of a prescription drug as you would for drunk driving. The penalties for a first prescription drug DUI in Florida include up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Facing prescription DUI charges? Contact The Morris Firm 24/7 for a case evaluation.
Posted on Monday, December 9th, 2019 at 12:46 pm
Even though marijuana legalization and decriminalization is taking effect in various states across the country, it is still very much illegal in Florida. While some states, such as California, Nevada, and Colorado have loosened up their marijuana possession laws significantly, in all 50 states it’s against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana and Florida is no exception.
If you drive under the influence of marijuana, what are the penalties? Are they different than they are for an alcohol-related DUI? Like other states, the penalties for a marijuana DUI in Florida are the same as they are for driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, the penalties for DUI are the same, regardless if the driver is impaired by alcohol, marijuana, another illegal drug, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medications.
Does Marijuana Affect Driving?
Studies have found that marijuana affects driving, which is why it’s illegal to drive while you’re under the influence of the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”
The NIDA continues, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones.”
Florida’s DUI Law
Florida’s DUI law is covered under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. In Florida, you break the state’s DUI law if you are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or controlled substance under Chapter 893 and your normal faculties are impaired.
There doesn’t have to be a “specific amount” of marijuana in your bloodstream to face marijuana DUI charges, all that matters is that the drug has impaired your normal faculties. The penalties for DUI, whether it’s due to alcohol, marijuana, or another drug or controlled substance are as follows for a first offense:
- A fine ranging between $500 and $1,000
- Up to 6 months in jail
- If the blood alcohol level (BAL) was .15% or higher, up to 9 months in jail
Posted on Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 at 12:58 pm
Now that the holidays are upon us, it’s timely to discuss DUI arrests and crashes, which increase like clockwork during the holiday season. Why the uptick in DUIs? It’s because of all of the Thanksgiving dinners, the Christmas parties, and the New Year’s Eve parties – all of these celebrations tend to have alcohol flowing freely.
The problem is, too many people forget to plan ahead for a sober ride. They drive to the party or family dinner and don’t think about how they really should have taken a cab, an Uber, or a Lyft. Instead of asking for a sober ride home or using a rideshare service, they grab their keys and get behind the wheel with alcohol in their system. But don’t just take our word for it, listen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drives home why it is so critical to always drive sober. Over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes during Christmas through New Year’s holiday period. In December 2016 alone, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes,” reports the NHTSA.
One aspect of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is the “No Big Deal” advertisement released by the NHTSA, which gives a vivid view of the type of destruction caused by a drunk driver. The ad includes a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience of an alcohol-related crash. The viewer gets to see first responders and how one bad choice can have grave consequences. To watch “No Big Deal,” click here.
As you celebrate the holidays, please be safe. Never drink and drive and think ahead. Before you celebrate, think to yourself, “How am I getting home?” Have a plan before you have any alcohol. Be honest with yourself. If you say you won’t drink but you know you’ll break down, just make sure you are responsible and don’t drink and drive.
Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Florida’s driving under the influence (DUI) law is covered under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. Contrary to popular belief, DUIs are not limited to alcohol. People can get arrested, charged and prosecuted for DUI if they drive under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal if the state can prove that the drugs impaired the person’s ability to drive safely in any way.
What types of drugs are we talking about? In reality, almost nothing is off the table. If the drug can impair your ability to drive in any way, it can lead to a DUI. So, even common, over-the-counter medications (OTC) like NyQuil, Zzzquil, Benadryl, Unisom, and supplement melatonin can lead to a DUI. Why? Mainly because each of these OTC medications causes drowsiness, which can lead to accidents.
Common Illegal Drugs That Lead to DUI
While there are all kinds of illegal drugs on the streets, the following illicit drugs commonly lead to DUI:
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.” The NIDA continues, “Along with marijuana, prescription drugs are also commonly linked to drugged driving crashes. In 2016, 19.6 percent of drivers who drove while under the influence tested positive for some type of opioid.”
Prescription Drugs That Lead to DUI
Prescription drugs can be powerful. They can cause drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, and so on. If a prescription has a warning label that tells the patient to use caution when operating heavy machinery, it can probably impact safe driving.
There are many types of prescription medications that can impact safe driving but don’t just take our word for it. “Medications come with warnings about possible side effects, yet many people ignore the warnings. Side effects can include sleepiness, blurred vision, or fainting. Products that could affect a driver include prescription drugs for anxiety, some antidepressants, some cold remedies and allergy products, sleeping pills, and pain relievers,” according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).