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 is alcohol which is a contributing factor in more than 5,000 accidents annually in Florida. Of course, there are other substances which can result in driving under the influence charges.
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.
Cannabis (THC and 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, while also a chemical found in cannabis is not psychoactive. CBD is known to enhance levels of anandamide and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which improve mood and increase calmness. Studies of CBD also seem to indicate health benefits like lessened anxiety and help with chronic pain.
THC and DUI
Numerous studies have shown the use of cannabis (THC) impairs driving, effecting concentration, attention span, and vision. These effects result in poor reaction time, following too closely, and inability to accurately judge speed from impaired judgement and performance.
The use of THC also lessens one’s ability to react to unexpected events common in the use of a motor vehicle, resulting in an increased risk of accident. When using cannabis, driving, performing, or operating heavy machinery, safety sensitive actions should be avoided. Though it is possible to develop a tolerance to THC, it is still not safe to drive under the influence of THC. Generally, the effects of inhaled cannabis dissipate in around three hours.
There is no evidence to support the argument that equal parts of CBD and THC cancel out the negative effects. It is up to you to use sound judgement in the use of cannabis, similar to the judgement used when taking muscle relaxants, using alcohol, or any other medication or drug which can inhibit cognition. While there are currently no laws or testing procedures in place for cannabis 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. Though much different than the effects of THC, CBD does come with a list of potential side effects, including:
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 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, you could be charged with DUI, as 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.
DUI in Florida
Driving under the influence of drugs carries similar consequences as driving under the influence of alcohol. The consequences increase with each new offense.
- First offense can result in a fine up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, plus a minimum of 50 hours of community service, and a license suspension up to one year.
- Second offense brings a fine up to $2,000, up to nine months in jail, and license suspension up to five years.
- Third offense promises a $5,000 fine, up to five years in jail, and a ten year license revocation.
This makes it crucial to verify not only the source of your CBD products, but do your own research to determine quality and ensure they do not contain THC. 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 an accident as a result, you could be changed with both negligence and liability.
Still Confused about Cannabis, THC, and CBD…
If you have been involved in an accident caused by someone who was under the influence of THC cannabis or who was experiencing side effects of CBD, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Call on Attorney Brandon Stein and the professional legal team at Stein Law for a free consultation. Having helped all kinds of accident victims, the expert legal team at Stein Law understands every detail of liability law specifically related to DUI, whether by alcohol or other drugs. At your consultation, Stein Law can answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve following your accident.