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Florida's DWI Law Revision Could Lead to Conviction of Sober People

​Under proposed revisions to Florida law, drivers could be hit with DWI charges even if they were totally sober while they were driving, according to an interpretation by a Broward County DWI lawyer.

SB 1810 is sitting in several Florida Senate committees and would revise the state's law regarding driving under the influence in several ways: It changes the name of the offense from "driving under the influence" to "driving while impaired" and adds provisions for blood and urine testing, which sound like relatively minor changes when you consider the big change: what authorities are testing for.

What they're testing for is drug metabolites, which means if you smoke a joint on Friday and get pulled over the following Tuesday with evidence of it in your urine, you could get hit with charges of driving while impaired even if you were stone sober on the roads.

The new bill keeps the state's .08 blood alcohol concentration limit but adds a provision that states a person is guilty of DWI if his blood or urine tests positive for controlled substances -- which doesn't sound too unreasonable until you get to the section that adds "or one of its metabolites," which means the tests include the chemicals left behind by the process of absorbing drugs.

"What this means is the State does not have to prove that you were impaired by a drug to convict," wrote Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Dye in a statement. "The State does not have to prove that you had any drug in your system whatsoever."

Dye also criticized a part of the bill that sets blood alcohol limits "at the time of driving or anytime after driving as a result of alcohol consumed before or during driving." Dye said it shouldn't be enough to convict someone for being "drunk after driving," but it seems to me if you down a pint of whiskey during your commute with the hopes that you're home before you're drunk, well, you probably deserve to go to jail because you're a damned maniac.

Either way, though, it certainly sounds as if the bill in its current form resembles drug testing for people with cars.

"I've heard from defense attorneys from different parts of Florida, and all are extremely concerned about this bill," Dye said. "People are going to be prosecuted for driving. It sounds ridiculous, and it is."

Florida Senate Bill SB1810

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Rich Abdill

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