Is it legal to drive in Florida while using CBD?
Driving Under the Influence of CBD in Florida
When it comes to substances that can affect a driver’s performance on the road, alcohol is the one that comes to mind first. After all, alcohol is responsible for over 5,000 crashes a year in the state of Florida, with hundreds of those accidents being fatal. But other substances can have pronounced effects on a person’s ability to drive a car. Driving under the influence of substances like marijuana often carry the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. But what about substances where the legality is in more of a gray area, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oils? Is driving under their effects the same as driving under the influence of marijuana? The short answer is generally no, but there are some things to keep in mind if you choose to take CBD oils and drive while their effects are still present.
What are CBD oils?
CBD oils are substances sourced from cannabis plants. Cannabis, known more commonly as marijuana, is a plant famous for its psychoactive effects. Those psychoactive effects are the result of a chemical in the plants called THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) that interfaces with the human brain and has a variety of effects, including stimulating the production of dopamine to produce its signature high.
CBD, on the other hand, is another chemical found in cannabis that is not psychoactive like THC. CBD’s effect on the brain is to raise the levels of anandamide and GABA. This reaction can have an effect on your mood and produce a calming effect. Proponents of the oils claim it has a variety of health benefits, including anxiety, epilepsy, chronic pain, and more.
Side Effects of CBD and Driving
The main legal issue that comes with mixing CBD oils and operating a vehicle concerns the potential side effects of using CBD oils. As with any substance, CBD oils have a long list of reported side effects, some of which can make operating a motor vehicle uncomfortable or downright dangerous. These can potentially result in devastating automobile accidents. Some side effects of CBD oil that can affect your driving include:
Of these, nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness are the most hazardous to your safety and the safety of other motorists on the road. Nausea and dizziness can make it uncomfortable to drive, and you may make unsafe decisions on the road because of it. Drowsiness can cause falling asleep at the wheel, which while not illegal in itself, can be considered negligence and make you legally liable for any accident that occurs as a result.
For these reasons, it’s often a good idea to try CBD oils in controlled settings to determine their effect on your body; you don’t want to find out how they affect you while you’re driving a car. A dosage for an oil in one person may cause no side effects, while the exact same dosage in another may cause all the side effects listed above and more.
CBD Oils and the Law
As mentioned before, CBD oils exist in a sort of legal gray area. Manufacturers of the oils have to be careful of the chemical content. Any oil that has a THC content of more than 0.3% is considered illegal under federal law. The oil extraction process isn’t perfect, and individual bottles may have a higher-than-legal amount of THC in them. Not all manufacturers of CBD oils do so within federal guidelines, which can also result in oil types that have higher-than-legal amounts of THC.
This all adds up to the fact the THC is still illegal on the federal level, which could lead to you being arrested for a DUI even if you thought you were taking safe CBDs that contained no THC. What would be worse would be if you caused a car accident while on CBDs and they find THC in your system. This could lead to much more serious consequences.
Drugged Driving Laws in Florida
If the CBD oil you use falls within the correct federal guidelines and doesn’t cause side effects that impair your ability to drive, it is safe to drive while using them. If you knowingly drive while being affected by CBD side effects, you can be charged with negligence if you cause an accident.
However, if the CBD oil you use has higher than the 0.3% legal THC content, you can be charged under Florida’s drugged driving laws. While drugged driving laws were written with more serious controlled substances such as opiates and hallucinogens in mind, marijuana is still a controlled substance in the state of Florida. Legally, if your CBD oil has higher than 0.3% THC, it falls into the territory of being illegal to possess and use, the same as if you possessed the plant-based form of cannabis.
The consequences of being charged under drugged driving laws are similar to alcohol-related DUIs. These grow more pronounced with each offense.
- First Offense – Up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, a minimum 50 hours of community service, and a license suspension of six months to one year.
- Second offense – Up to nine months in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, and a license revocation of at least five years.
- Third offense – Up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, and a license revocation of at least ten years.
For these reasons, it is critical that you thoroughly verify your source of CBD if you choose to take them. Do independent research to verify the quality of the oils and make sure they do not exceed the 0.3% THC limit. A little research can keep you safe on the road and keep you out of legal hot water.
Fort Myers Accident and Injury Attorneys
Even if the risks of using CBD oils and driving are lower than those of alcohol, they do still carry a risk of causing an accident. Just because CBD oils are low risk does not mean they are no risk, especially if a driver knowingly operates an automobile knowing the side effects will make it hazardous. If they cause an accident, a driver can be charged with negligence and liability for injuries they cause.
If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident caused by someone experiencing the side effects of CBD oils, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact Viles & Beckman, LLC today either by filling out our online contact form or by calling us at (239) 360-5127 for a free case evaluation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to answer all of your questions and ease your concerns.