There is a television commercial that I see all of time that is paid for by a group called the Ad Council which authoritatively proclaims “BUZZED DRIVING IS DRUNK DRIVING.” This commercial is dangerous because it is a misstatement of the law
Let me clarify the DUI law. There is no law in the state of Florida that states that buzzed driving is drunk driving. The Florida Legislature has never even defined the term “buzzed driving.” The concept of being “buzzed” is a slang term that means something different to each person. Generally, it is the initially emotionally relaxed feeling that people have after a small consumption of alcohol. Florida law does not make it illegal to drink and drive. It is only against to drink and drive if the person’s NORMAL FACULTIES are IMPAIRED.
Normal faculties are legally defined as including “the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.” The pleasurable feeling associated with being buzzed does not affect a person’s ability to perform the tasks associated with every day living. It is merely a relaxed state of emotion.
It is not against the law to drink and drive to the extent that a person’s normal faculties are EFFECTED. Everyone knows that even a small amount of alcohol consumption has some physiological effects. However, the Florida legislature requires something much more. It is only against the law if the effect of the alcohol is so severe, that the normal faculties become IMPAIRED. There is a big difference between the words “affected” and “impaired.” When a person is merely buzzed, their emotional state is affected, but their ability to function properly is not impaired.
When juries are read the law by the judge, they are informed that they are not to consider any other law other than what they are told. However, when people are blitzed with slogans on the airwaves, it is difficult for them not to have pre conceived notions about the law. Once, I spoke to an alternative juror who told me that the judge’s instructions were “wrong” because he “knew” the law based on his every day life experiences. Criminal defendants should only be convicted of crimes as defined by stature, not based upon slogans created by public interest groups and Madison Avenue.
Please drink responsibly, and ask for a ride. If you have the slightest doubt that you should not be behind the wheel, don’t take the risk.
If you have questions, call the Law Offices of Steve Bartlett at (727) 942-1000