Florida’s law against driving under the influence, F.S. 316.193, covers the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated not just by alcohol, but by any chemical substance that impairs the person’s normal faculties. This includes marijuana. However, now that the drug has become legal for medicinal purposes in the Sunshine State, some lawmakers say this statute does not go far enough.
Now, House Bill 237, the Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Act, proposes that DUI arrests can be made and convictions secured if evidence is presented the driver had 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood. If the law is passed, it would go into effect this October.
However, there has been significant push back from the scientific community on this because blood testing for THC, which is a fat-soluble compound, is known to be an inaccurate means of testing impairment. That’s because the substances stays in one’s body long after consumption, unlike alcohol, which dissipates quickly. What that means is if you find a certain amount of alcohol in one’s blood or breath or urine, that alcohol was consumed fairly recently and one can opine with reasonable certainty about the degree of intoxication. But that isn’t true with marijuana. In fact, all a test like this will tell you is that the person is a marijuana user. A high level of THC in the blood stream is not necessarily indicative of impairment. It may only indicate the person is a regular user. So if a person consumes a little of the drug every evening for a month and is pulled over one morning – completely sober – he or she could well have a THC level above that 5-nanogram limit. Continue reading