DUI and Benzodiazepine

Benzodiazepines (BZD, BZs, "benzos") are psychoactive central nervous system depressant drugs commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, alcohol dependence, and other disorders. A benzodiazepine is essentially a tranquilizer that can have such side effects as drowsiness or lack of coordination.

As a result, it is not uncommon for a person who uses lawfully prescribed benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, or Klonopin to be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida. Drug-related DUI arrests are much different from alcohol-related offenses, and any person accused of a drugged driving crime stemming from benzodiazepine use will want to immediately retain legal counsel.

Attorney for DUI and Benzodiazepine Defense in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Were you recently arrested for DUI after using a benzodiazepine in South Florida? Do not say anything to authorities until you are able to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A..

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers aggressively defend clients charged with drunk and drugged driving crimes in communities all over the Palm Beach County area, such as Greenacres, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, and many others. Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.


Overview of Benzodiazepine DUI in Palm Beach County


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DUI and Benzodiazepine Charges in Florida

Florida Statute § 316.193(1)(a) establishes that a person commits the crime of DUI when he or she drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or any controlled substance, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. Most benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule I controlled substances in Florida.

A person is not required to inform a police officer that he or she has consumed a benzodiazepine. In many cases, evidence of benzodiazepines usually comes through blood or urine testing. Proof of a benzodiazepine being in a person’s system, however, is not necessarily proof that the drug was active at the time of the alleged offense.


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Benzodiazepine DUI Penalties in Florida

DUI offenses involving benzodiazepines are subject to the same punishments as alcohol-related drunk driving crimes. Any previous alcohol-related DUIs may be used against an alleged offender to possibly increase the severity of penalties.

Benzodiazepine DUIs can carry the following sentences, depending on the number of prior convictions a person has:

  • First Conviction — Fine of no less than $500 up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail (fine of no less than $1,000 up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail if a minor was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense) and driver’s license suspension of one year.
  • Second Conviction Within Five Years of Prior Conviction — Fine of no less than $1,000 up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail (fine of no less than $2,000 up to $4,000 and up to 12 months in jail if a minor was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense) and driver’s license suspension of five years.
  • Second Conviction More Than Five Years After Prior Conviction — Fine of no less than $1,000 up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail (fine of no less than $2,000 up to $4,000 and up to 12 months in jail if a minor was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense) and driver’s license suspension of one year.
  • Third Conviction Within 10 Years of First Conviction — Third-degree felony punishable by fine of no less than $2,000 up to $5,000 and minimum of 30 days up to five years in prison (fine of no less than $4,000 up to $5,000 if a minor was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense) and driver’s license suspension of 10 years.
  • Third Conviction More Than 10 Years After First Conviction — Fine of no less than $2,000 up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail (fine of no less than $4,000 up to $5,000 if a minor was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense) and driver’s license suspension of one year.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction — Third-degree felony punishable by fine of no less than $2,000 up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, and lifetime revocation of driver’s license.

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Palm Beach County DUI and Benzodiazepine Resources

Going to Sleep with Benzodiazepines Carry Huge Risks | Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida (CCHR) — The CCHR is a non-profit, public benefit organization dedicated to investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights. View an article discussing the risks of using benzodiazepines for sleep purposes. The article also contains links to other studies.

Benzodiazepines in Miami-Dade County, Florida driving under the influence (DUI) cases (1995-1998) with emphasis on Rohypnol: GC-MS confirmation, patterns of use, psychomotor impairment, and results of Florida legislation — PubMed Central is a free archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM) developed and managed by NLM’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). View the full text of an abstract that reported benzodiazepines are associated with up to 20 percent of all Miami-Dade County, Florida DUI urine samples. The abstract states that there was a dramatic drop in case numbers following the legal reclassification of benzodiazepines as Schedule I substances in Florida in February 1997.


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Find a Benzodiazepine DUI Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale

If you were arrested for a DUI based on your use of a benzodiazepine in Palm Beach County, it is in your best interest to quickly seek legal representation. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents residents and visitors arrested in communities throughout Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County.

Our criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options as soon as you call (561) 557-8686 or submit an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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