Marijuana Driving Laws In Florida

Need an Attorney right now? You've come to the right place.
By Marcus Fernandez

Marijuana possession has been illegal under federal law and state law for decades. However, many state legislatures have enacted laws legalizing use for medical purposes. And, in some cases, for recreational use by adults. Federal law continues to classify marijuana as a controlled substance. This makes it federally illegal to produce, distribute or possess.

Legislation pending in the U.S. Senate to lift the federal ban on marijuana that has existed for more than half a century, which would leave it exclusively in the hands of the state governments to determine what uses should be legal. For the moment, Florida is among the states that permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

If you reside in or visit the Sunshine State, be aware of Florida’s current marijuana laws. Including the laws governing driving under the influence of marijuana. What follows is an overview of the marijuana laws as they currently exist so that you understand the rights and can protect others while exercising those rights.

Possession and use of marijuana in Florida

Florida law used to prohibit all forms of use or possession of marijuana. Now, it permits limited use of the substance for medical purposes by patients with a Florida medical marijuana card. You must meet the following requirements to obtain a medical marijuana card in Florida:

  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Be a Florida resident.
  • Have a qualifying health condition diagnosis from a physician.
  • Have entry into the Medical Marijuana Registry by a qualified physician.

Only a physician approved by the state as a qualified physician may enter your name in the Medical Marijuana Registry. The qualified physician must certify that you have a qualifying health condition, including cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions listed in the medical marijuana law.

If you receive a medical marijuana card, you may lawfully possess as much as four ounces of medical marijuana. However, it remains illegal for you to use, possess or purchase marijuana for recreational use. It is also illegal to grow or cultivate your own medical marijuana under current law in Florida.

Visitors cannot use a medical card from another state to purchase or possess marijuana in Florida. State law does not currently recognize medical marijuana cards issued by other states.

Medical marijuana and Florida driving laws

Keep in mind that a Florida medical marijuana card is only valid in Florida. Marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. A medical marijuana card will not protect you from prosecution if you transport medical marijuana across state lines. It also does not protect you in an airport or other location where federal law applies. 

Florida prohibits possession of medical marijuana in public places, so be discreet when carrying it in your car traveling within the state. Keep it in your trunk, glove box or otherwise concealed from view by people outside of the vehicle.

If you have a medical marijuana card, you cannot smoke while in or driving your vehicle. This is because Florida marijuana driving laws prohibit smoking or ingesting medical marijuana in public places or in a vehicle. 

Driving while impaired in Florida

Authorization to use medical marijuana does not exempt you from state law making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired. Marijuana-impaired driving is not only illegal, but it is also dangerous.

A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol may experience some or all of the following:

  • Slowed ability to react to changing road or traffic conditions or hazards.
  • Impaired ability to remember.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing on driving.
  • Impaired judgment and ability to judge time and distance.

What happens during a marijuana traffic stop?

If a police officer has probable cause based on observing your driving behavior to believe that you are driving while under the influence of marijuana or other substance, you may be pulled over and asked to submit to testing of your blood or urine. 

Marijuana, unlike alcohol, cannot be measured through an analysis of a breath sample, so you will be asked to provide a urine or blood sample to determine whether you inhaled or ingested marijuana. If you did, the observations of the police officer of your behavior while driving and during the stop combined with the results of the blood or urine analysis are used as evidence to prove that your normal faculties to drive or control a motor vehicle were impaired.

If you refuse to consent to give a sample of your blood or urine for testing, you violate the state’s implied consent law. The law states that every motorist implicitly consents as a condition of being issued a license to drive to cooperate by giving a breath, blood or urine sample when requested to do so by law enforcement. 

Refusing to consent to testing is a separate criminal offense, so even if you are not convicted of driving while impaired by drugs, you could be convicted of refusing to consent. The penalty could be up to a year in jail.

What are the penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana?

A conviction for driving while impaired by marijuana carries with it harsh penalties, including fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail along with suspension of your driving privileges for up to a year. Repeat offenders pay an even higher price with fines as high as $5,000, permanent revocation of your license to drive, and prison sentences of as long as five years.

Consult with an attorney

If you are injured in an accident caused by a motorist breaking a marijuana driving law, contact a Tampa Personal Injury attorney for assistance. You may have the right to recover monetary damages for the injuries caused by the negligence of the other motorist. Schedule a free evaluation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at KF&B Law today.