Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of CBD in Florida: Everything You Need to Know
Driving under the influence is a charge which needs to be taken seriously here in Florida as well as all across the country. There are a number of substances which come to mind when you hear the term DUI or driving under the influence. The most common in Florida is alcohol, which is a contributing factor in more than 5,000 accidents annually. Of course, there are other substances that can result in charges of a DUI in Florida, including CBD and THC.
Each person has a civic duty to avoid driving while impaired. Anyone driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication poses a risk to others around them. The same goes for tired driving or distracted driving, as well.
Only recently, marijuana use has become more widespread across the United States. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize the substance—although like alcohol, it’s still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
The rapid changes in cannabis regulation, products, and services, have created new questions in this increasingly gray-area industry. Particularly, the legalization of CBD products has raised concerns among users on how this may impact them if pulled over while driving.
Questions often arise regarding marijuana (cannabis), and the substances it contains, namely THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). As CBD products become prevalent in the marketplace and cannabis becomes legal in more states, many wonder if driving under the effects of CBD, THC, or cannabis carry the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
Here is what you need to know, including a comparison of the effects of CBD versus THC cannabis:
THC vs. CBD
Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, is well-known for its psychoactive effects on the human brain. These effects are the result of THC, a substance which interacts with the brain, enhancing the production of dopamine and producing a “high”.
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s found in the cannabis plant (more commonly known as marijuana). While most people automatically associate CBD with the effects of marijuana, it isn’t responsible for any of the stereotypical effects at all.
In medical studies, CBD has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety for people who take it. The chemical is typically used in edible forms or processed into an oil. Using CBD is non-hallucinogenic, which is why it’s legal to possess the substance in 34 states. Many people still, however, automatically think of marijuana when they hear the term “CBD.”
In reality, it’s the component THC that causes symptoms like mood changes, hallucinations, and lack of body control, which are commonly associated with marijuana use. THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is another chemical compound found in the cannabis plant.
Understanding the difference between these two compounds is important in understanding the gray area surrounding CBD use while driving. Since both compounds come from the same plant, it is possible to have traces of THC in CBD products. When this happens, it can lead to issues for any CBD users who get pulled over while driving.
Side Effects of CBD
Since CBD products lack the hallucinogenic effects of THC, they don’t pose a serious harm to most people. The gray area surrounding CBD and driving is due to the effects that this compound has on an individual, case-by-case basis.
Some of the reported side effects of CBD products are:
- Paranoia or heightened anxiety
- Nausea or vomiting
- Mood swings
These symptoms present differently for everyone who uses CBD, and it’s possible they may not present themselves at all. This is why taking CBD and driving at the same time can be a safety hazard.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to decide whether they can safely operate a vehicle after ingesting CBD. Any of the potential side effects could impact a person’s ability to drive.
With so much uncertainty surrounding this compound, it’s recommended that if you are planning to try CBD you should do so in a controlled environment. This means that the first few times you ingest CBD or any time you try a new brand or product, ensure that you won’t be getting behind the wheel before you know how your body will react.
While drowsy driving isn’t technically illegal, it’s possible to be charged for negligence if you knowingly drove while impaired. The reasons why states put rest areas on the side of the road is to eliminate hazards by giving people a safe space to recharge and reset. In the same spirit, individuals have to be held accountable for creating unsafe situations when they take substances they know will impede their ability to drive.
While there are currently no laws or testing procedures in place for CBD use, should you be pulled over, the police may ask you to perform a SFST (Standard Field Sobriety Test) roadside.
**Impaired drivers, whether the result of alcohol or drugs, are subject to the same penalties, which means if you are impaired or intoxicated, it is in your best interest and the interest of others not to drive.***
CBD and Driving
CBD does not cause psychoactive effects, and generally does not affect cognition, however it does have potential side effects.
Dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea can make driving hazardous to you, as well as other drivers on the road. If you experience these effects from the use of CBD, you might make unsafe decisions while driving, resulting in an accident, as well as potential lawsuit.
If you are using CBD, it should be in a controlled setting where you can easily determine its effect on you. Some people experience no side effects while others do. The legality of CBD is dependent on its chemical makeup, thus CBD which contains more than 0.3 percent THC is illegal under federal law.
For Florida drivers, this means if you thought you were taking CBD without THC, and an accident happens and THC is found in your system, you could be arrested for DUI.
Of course, if the CBD you choose is legal (within federal guidelines) and doesn’t impair your ability to driver, you can drive using it. But, if you experience CBD side effects, and cause an accident, you could be charged with negligence.
If you are using CBD with greater than 0.3 percent THC content, and drive under the influence in Florida, you could be charged with DUI. Marijuana is still a controlled substance in the state of Florida, and your CBD/THC would be considered the same if you had the plant form of marijuana.
CBD Laws and Regulation
Because CBD works differently in the body than marijuana in its full-form (with THC present), it doesn’t technically qualify as a banned driving substance. While not all state laws are the same, CBD does not inherently impair the body for all users, so it has more room for leniency. Despite CBD’s legality, THC-filled products are not legal in the United States (although they’re legal in some states).
The 2018 Farm Bill drastically changed CBD regulations by legalizing the commercial production of hemp (legally defined as the cannabis plant). As long as a product’s THC levels are below 0.3%, it is federally legal. This is comparable to the blood alcohol level imposed for alcohol-related driving incidents.
While manufacturers are required by law to reduce THC levels in their products, not all of them will. If you are pulled over in the state of Florida and found with THC in your system, you could face legal charges. Furthermore, if you caused an accident or death due to impairment you had while under the influence of CBD products, you would be held responsible under the Florida drugged driving laws.
Consumers need to purchase their CBD products from reputable sources and, as previously mentioned, try the products before hitting the road. The Florida drugged driving laws increase in severity with each offense:
- First Offense: Up to six months in jail, 50+ hours of community service, license suspension (one year max), and fines up to $1,000
- Second Offense: Up to nine months in jail, license suspension (five-year max), and fines up to $2,000
- Third Offense: Up to five years in jail, ten-year license revocation, and fines up to $5,000
To avoid these penalties, it’s imperative that you are confident that the CBD products you’re taking are legal and safe to use. The last thing you want is to be ingesting THC without realizing it and then end up in trouble for an unintentional offense.
Though the risks of CBD are minimal compared to alcohol and other drugs, they still may carry some risk, if they give you unwanted side effects which can hamper your ability to drive safely. If you cause a DUI accident as a result of CBD use, you could be charged in Florida with both negligence and liability.
Florida Legal Representation for THC or CBD-Related DUI Accidents
Navigating the gray areas of cannabis regulation can be difficult. Depending on the severity of the offense, you could be facing harsh legal penalties for use of CBD products. If you have been involved in a THC or CBD-related DUI accident in Florida, it is possible that you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Call on Attorney Brandon Stein and the professional legal team at SteinLaw for a free consultation. Having helped all kinds of accident victims, the expert legal team at SteinLaw understands every detail of liability law specifically related to DUI, whether by alcohol or other drugs. At your consultation, SteinLaw can answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve following your accident.