Senator Stephen Wise from Jacksonville’s District 5 has introduced a bill which proposes to fundamentally alter DUI law. The bill proposes to make it illegal “to be impaired by . . . any . . . impairing substance . . ” Any substance includes cough medicine, nicotine, caffeine, aspirin, tylenol, prozac, heart medication, blood thinners, insulin . . . anything!
Senator Wise also proposes to redefine impairment as “weakened or diminished physical or mental abilities.” What this means is that you could be convicted of a DUI, if you took any over-the-counter medication that arguably weakened or diminished your physical or mental abilities. This is especially concerning now that we are in the middle of the cold and flu season. Theoretically, under this proposed law, you could convicted of a DUI for taking Sudafed and driving.
SB 1810 has less to do with alcohol and chemical substances, and more to do with driving tired or distracted. If this bill passes, evidence of distracted driving or tired driving could support a DUI conviction, if the driver had any substance in his system.
The bill is flawed because it does not take into account the different intoxicating affects of different chemical substances. Nor does it set any tolerable limits for these substances in your system. It fails to take into account that the tools that laboratories use to detect substances in your system are so sensitive that they will detect any amount of anything, no matter how small. It doesn’t matter when you took the medication either. You could be convicted of a DUI for a substance you took several days ago, even though you were not under its influence at the time you were driving.
If you take any medications whatsoever, you could be at risk of getting a DUI every time you drive, under this proposed bill. Now, who do you know that isn’t taking any medications for anything?
If you’d like to find out who your Florida Senator is, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find.
You can download a copy of SB 1810 here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/1810