Understanding the Marijuana Laws in Florida

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There is a growing movement in many states to legalize cannabis (marijuana) for prescription use to treat chronic pain and certain diseases such as cancer and glaucoma. There is a somewhat smaller movement to legalize its use as a recreational drug, equivalent to alcohol or tobacco. However, only a few states have gone so far as to allow its use by prescription only. Florida is not one of these states. It is, therefore, necessary for one to understand cannabis laws in Florida before taking any across the state line.

This state uses a progressive chart when determining the charge and the severity of the charge in both possession and sale or cultivation. Possession or delivery of less than twenty grams is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to 1000 USD and/or 1 year in jail. This assumes that one delivers a small quantity and does not get paid for it. Possession of paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, etc) is also a misdemeanor with the same penalties. This can be added the charges associated with the drug itself.

Any delivery of over twenty grams or sale of marijuana up to twenty five pounds is a felony. Possession of the substance in a quantity between twenty grams and twenty five pounds is a felony. At this level, the punishment goes up to 5 years in prison and/or up 5000 USD in fines.

Possession of greater than twenty four plants or any sale or cultivation of the plant within one thousand feet of a school, park, daycare, etc. Is punishable by fines up to 10,000 USD and a prison term up to 15 years. Judges tend to hand out the maximum sentence for operating near these locations.

Whenever one gets into growing or selling amounts over twenty five pounds, he/she is considered to be trafficking in an illegal substance. Any trafficking conviction will carry a minimum mandatory sentence, meaning that judges are given no leeway to be lenient.

From twenty five to two thousand pounds (or plants) is punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison and a fine up to 25,000 USD. The minimum sentence for two thousand to ten thousand pounds (or plants) is 7 years and a fine up to 50,000 USD. Anything over this carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a fine up to 200,000 USD.

Any conviction of any charge relating to marijuana or drugs carries an automatic suspension of one’s driving privileges for a period of not less than 6 months nor over 2 years. This applies whether one is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

Several states have passed legislation that allows doctors to prescribe cannabis as treatment for certain chronic and/or terminal conditions. However, Florida is not on this list. Developing an understanding of cannabis laws in Florida means learning that this plant is still illegal and trafficking in it carries very stiff penalties. Those who are convicted of any trafficking related offense will face mandatory minimum sentences that do not provide judges with any leeway for leniency, even if the defendant cooperates with authorities. Jason@TrafficTicketTeam.com, www.TrafficTicketTeam.com, 954-967-9888

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Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm  Comments Off on Understanding the Marijuana Laws in Florida  
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Any Drugs While Driving Can Get You Arrested

Whether it’s cold medicine, cough syrup, a legal prescription drug or alcohol, if you ingest too much and drive a vehicle, you can be charged with driving under the influence. “Even if someone is taking prescription drugs legally, they can be charged with DUI,” said Sgt. Kim Montes, spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol district that includes Volusia County. “If a trooper evaluates someone, either on a traffic stop or at a crash scene, and determines they are impaired from alcohol, illegal or legal drugs, or another substance, they can be arrested.” The FHP recently charged a man with DUI manslaughter in an Orlando case because they believe he had inhaled computer cleaner, Montes said. Toxicology reports, which reveal the presence of substances in the blood that can lead to impairment, can take several months to complete, said FHP Lt. Bill Leeper. He noted authorities are awaiting toxicology results in at least one Flagler County crash involving serious injuries. The Friends Drive Sober organization devotes a section of its website to prescription and over-the-counter drugs and their effect on drivers. “Drugs impair our bodies in a variety of ways,” the site reads. “They may blur our vision; make us tired or too excited; alter depth perception; make us see or hear things that may not be there; raise or lower blood pressure; react too quickly, too slowly, or not at all. They cause problems with concentrating on the task at hand.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically lists cough and cold medications containing dextromethorphan as one of the most commonly misused over-the-counter drugs, “to get high.” “The pivotal issue when it comes to controlled substances is impairment,” said Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. The short answer, he said, as to whether a person is guilty of driving under the influence depends on two things: the impaired individual is in control of the vehicle and, per state statute, “that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.” It’s up to the discretion of law enforcement to determine whether a driver should undergo testing and whether a breath or blood test is requested. “If we have an idea of what types of drugs they may be taking, then we can ask for that drug to be specifically tested,” Montes said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement runs a panel for all controlled substances when blood is drawn, said spokeswoman Susie Murphy. “We don’t typically test for huffing (inhaled) agents,” Murphy said. “We don’t test for over-the-counter drugs at all.” But that doesn’t mean a person can’t be charged with DUI for taking over-the-counter medication.  “If someone were to ingest enough over-the-counter medicine, they could also be arrested forDUI if it is determined that they are impaired,” Montes said. So if you get in a situation you need legal help, please call the Traffic Ticket Team at 954-967-9888 or go to our site, www.TrafficTicketTeam.com Diamond, Kistner & Diamond, P.A.

Sunrise Cops Have a Traffic Ticket Quota…

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Sunrise cops are expected to make a minimum of 45,612 traffic stops a year. (Michael Francis McElroy, Sun Sentinel /August 20, 2010)

Sunrise road patrol officers are expected to make at least three traffic stops a day, according to a complaint form on the officer filed in May. That means the city’s 84 road patrol officers have to make at least 45,864 stops a year, about half the city’s population.With Sunrise home to Sawgrass Mills  mall, a top tourist destination in South Florida, folks from all over are at risk of being pulled over and given a ticket. What it could cost you, on average: $200.

“The public thinks it’s a gotcha game and they are going to get you if they have to meet that quota,” said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Law School in Davie. Officers who meet the quota — referred to as “shift standards” by department brass — are in line for promotions, special assignments and raises, say union officials. Those who don’t risk a written reprimand, they say. The Sunrise police union does not condone quotas of any kind, said Roger Krege, union president.The officers making the traffic stops are “just following orders,” Krege said. Officers need to be able to make decisions without “external influences” from supervisors who demand a set number of stops per day. Chief John Brooks, who joined the department in June 2007, denied having a quota.”I don’t have a ticket quota and I don’t have an arrest quota,” Brooks said. “It’s not illegal, but it’s unethical.”

Capt. Robert Voss, who oversees the department’s road patrol officers, says supervisors need some way to measure performance. The number of daily traffic stops an officer makes helps gauge productivity, Voss said. “Those are guidelines for them to follow,” Voss said. “We have to have a way to measure what an officer is doing out there. The officers are making a lot of money. We want to make sure they’re working.” The standards apply only to the officers assigned to road patrol, Voss said, not to the department’s entire 172-member force.

Mayor Roger Wishner characterized the three-stops-a-day rule as community policing, where officers focus on certain neighborhoods to help reduce traffic accidents. “I don’t support a quota system, but I do want our officers out there enforcing traffic laws,” Wishner said. Deputy Mayor Sheila Alu also backs Brooks’ rule, in effect since July 2008. “I think he’s trying to keep the officers accountable,” Alu said. “He wants to make sure the officers are doing their jobs and performing.” From October 2008 through September 2009, Sunrise collected $431,200 in traffic fines and court costs, city records show. Sunrise has collected $352,000 in ticket money from October 2009 through early August.  In addition to the traffic stops, Sunrise officers are required to make three “Field Interrogation Card” reports each month — or 3,024 every year. Officers use the FIC reports to document suspicious activity — and to prove they are working, Sunrise police officials say. One officer has Voss wondering just what he could be doing his entire 11.5-hour shift. Bruce Charlton, a 21-year veteran who works the day shift, has been written up three times this year for failing to meet shift standards. In February, he had one traffic stop and no FI cards. In March, he had no traffic stops and one FI card. In April, he made seven traffic stops and wrote one FIC report. “I have personally given verbal warnings to Officer Charlton and have placed notes and copies of his stats in his shift file regarding his lack of productivity,” Sgt. Mark Hudson wrote in a May 17 complaint on the officer. “By failing to heed repeated supervisor warnings, Officer Charlton remains in violation of Department Policy and Procedure. Technically, Charlton was written up for disobeying an order. The order: To make more traffic stops and write more FI Cards. Charlton, 41, said this in his defense: “We have over 200 different responsibilities to perform during our shift and it’s not fair to the public’s safety or officers’ safety to pigeonhole our performance solely on traffic stops and FI Cards.

The other officers have to neglect their other duties for fear of discipline if they don’t meet the shift standards.” Traffic quotas may not be illegal in Florida but they are frowned on, said Bob Dekle, a law professor at the UF, “The problem you get into with quotas, every stop is open to public criticism,” he said. “The accusation is, ‘You did it because you had a quota to make, not because the person was doing something wrong.’ That’s why quotas are a bad idea.”  On the other hand, Dekle said he understands the dilemma for supervisors who want to make sure the rank and file are not sleeping on the job. “It shouldn’t be too hard for officers to make three traffic stops a day and three field interrogations a month,” Dekle said. “If the officer is not doing that, you have to wonder what he is doing.” Officials with the Broward Sheriff’s Office say the agency does not have quotas. The Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood police departments say the same. Fort Lauderdale does require its officers to meet “performance standards” to measure productivity, Sgt. Frank Sousa said. Officers are evaluated on the quantity of their work, but are not required to “write five tickets a day or make three arrests,” Sousa said. Nor are they required to conduct a set number of traffic stops or “Field Interrogation Cards,” he said. The Sun Sentinel reviewed 287 FI Cards written by Sunrise officers between June 19 and July 19. Subjects were questioned for many reasons — loitering, walking home, driving around “aimlessly,” sitting in a parked car at a shopping center after hours. Will Carrasco, a Plantation resident questioned by Sunrise police in June, was not surprised to hear of the shift standards.”It sounds like a quota to me,” Carrasco said. Carrasco, 27, and his brother-in-law were camped out in his car outside Sawgrass Mills about 3:30 a.m. June 19, hoping to be first in line to buy a new Jordan sneaker. “Three cops came up and said ‘What are you doing here?'” Carrasco recounted. “We were sitting in the car with snacks and water, minding our own business. I can’t really blame them. But I think sometimes they overdo it. Three of them showed up.”

If you get caught speeding, you should call the Traffic Ticket Team, http://www.trafficticketteam.com, to fight your Florida Traffic Ticket. If you get a traffic ticket for anything, speeding, red light, DUI or anything else, call us anytime to fight your traffic ticket at 954-967-9888, Law Offices of Jason A. Diamond, P.A. and Diamond, Kistner & Diamond.

Red Light Camera’s in Palm Beach County Are Here!

Never mind the court challenges or the bills in the legislature. Warm-ups and warnings are over, West Palm Beach says. For the first time in Palm Beach County, a city with red-light cameras says it will start handing out real fines today. “I think initially we’ll see a lot of resistance and a lot of flak about the program, but in the long run I think people are going to see it’s going to keep our streets safe,” said assistant police chief Dennis Crispo. West Palm Beach and a private camera vendor will split $125 fines generated at four intersections, soon to be five.vSince a warning period began Nov. 21, red-light cameras in West Palm Beach have recorded 17,349 “events,” Crispo said. After reviewing the evidence, police approved the mailing of warnings in 5,815 cases. As of today, cops are supposed to start approving fines, not warnings. Royal Palm Beach indefinitely postponed fines Feb. 8 after some drivers there were upset about warnings for what they considered safe right turns on red. There were also complaints about distracting camera flashes.  Before fines are mailed to car owners based on their license plates, West Palm Beach police will review camera evidence on a case by case basis, Crispo said. Motorists who show a clear attempt to stop during a right-on-red attempt are less likely to get a fine than those who blow through without stopping, he said. Car owners who are sent a fine will be able to go online to see evidence against them, Crispo said. Appeals will be handled by a designated official, he said. Infractions do not count as points on a driver’s record. In some places, the mood has turned testy against the use of various forms of cameras for traffic cases. A dentist’s sign-wielding protests against Juno Beach’s speeding van have preceded the planned March 2 debut of red-light camera fines there. In an extreme case in Arizona, a man has been charged with fatally shooting the operator of a van designed to nab speeders with cameras. Several cities decided to wait for what happens with court challenges to the cameras in Florida, as well as bills in the state legislature. West Palm Beach attorney Jason Diamond argues the cameras are unconstitutional because they fine the car owner as opposed to the driver, presume guilt, and fail to ensure traffic regulations are uniform throughout the state. Other cities are pushing ahead. Palm Springs expects to begin fines from red-light cameras March 1, with Haverhill pegging March 15, officials in those municipalities said.  West Palm Beach’s red-light cameras await at Parker Avenue and Belvedere Road, Parker and Summit Boulevard, Australian Avenue and Banyan Boulevard, and at Australian and Belvedere, One will be added at Australian and 25th Street.

Cop Writes Fake Traffic Tickets, Only in Florida.

Concern that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper accused of writing false traffic tickets may have more victims has prompted FHP to open a hot line number. “We have established a central hot line for people filing complaints in this case,” said FHP Maj. James G. Brierton, commander of Troop E, which is based in Dade.  The move comes after a revelation on Tuesday that Trooper Paul C. Lawrence, 38, had been arrested on 22 counts of official misconduct for writing the fake citations.  Already, 203 traffic citations that Lawrence issued since November have been dismissed.  But prosecutors think there might more victims.  Those who believe they received a false citation from Lawrence can call 305-470-2525.  In each case, Lawrence is accused of using information from drivers whom he had previously stopped. Then he manufactured new charges. The citations were not signed by the drivers.  The 22 counts are related to eight specific incidents this winter, according to the arrest affidavit.  Prosecutors said Lawrence started writing the false tickets to boost the number of citations he was reporting to his bosses.  In November alone, he submitted 397 citations to FHP — 82 of them missing a signature.  An FHP spokesman said FHP does not use a quota system.  Supervisors noticed something wrong in November when in one day five motorists called to complain they were being solicited by traffic ticket teams for citations, although they had not been stopped or ticketed by FHP.  An investigation was launched that showed an unusually large number of Lawrence’s citations were not signed by the alleged violators.  Lawrence, an FHP trooper for 15 years, has been placed on administrative duty “pending termination.”

Cop Charged With Felony For Illegal Traffic Ticket Writting!

A 21-year veteran of the Melbourne, Florida Police Department is facing five felony charges of official misconduct and four misdemeanor charges for falsifying records according to a story on Florida Today and FDLE reports. Officer Frank Carter is accused of writing unwarranted traffic tickets due to video that was reviewed from his in-car dashboard camera. Carter’s attorney claims the traffic stops were warranted due to drug dealing in some Melbourne neighborhoods. Some of the traffic citations handed out by Carter that FDLE flagged were for driving without headlights when they were not required or no tag lights when the car’s tag lights were working. Some residents in south Melbourne claim that Carter has been a “thorn in the side” to the town’s African-American population for years. Carter was released from the Brevard County Detention Center on a $2000 bond. If you have been cited for a traffic violation anywhere in Florida and need qualified legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact experienced traffic ticket lawyer, Jason A. Diamond at 1-866-433-3363 to discuss the matter or visit our website www.TrafficTicketTeam.com

Unlawfull Display of a Driver’s License

There are different ways you can be charged with this offense. First, it is unlawful to display or represent as your own any driver’s license not issued to you. Second, it is unlawful to knowingly display a driver’s license that has been canceled, revoked, suspended, or disqualified. It is also unlawful to allow someone else to unlawfully use a license issued to you. All of these offenses are criminal infractions punishable up to 60 days in the county jail, a fine of up to $500, and/or up to 6 months of probation. In addition, it is unlawful to have in your possession, two driver’s licenses. We have represented numerous individuals over the years who changed their address with the DMV, received a new license but didn’t destroy their old one. Keep in mind that the law allows you to only possess one valid Florida license at a time. It goes without say that is is also not legal to give your licese to somone to get into a bar if they are under 21. It seems that this was, at a time, a right of passage for most young adults, but it is not worth going to jail for. Thus, if you get in trouble for any of these, or other, offenses, please call the trafficticketteam.com at 954-967-9888 or nationwide toll free 1-866-433-3363.

Booster Seat Laws May Change

More Traffic Laws On The Way? Florida Considers Raising The Age For Booster Seats. The State of Florida has been changing traffic laws and fees a lot lately. There has been great debate as to whether the changes are for public safety or to raise money for the cash-strapped state. According to various news agencies, another state legislator is proposing a bill to change a traffic law in the name of safety. State Senator Thad Altman has proposed that booster seats be mandatory for children up to the age of seven. The current law requires a child in a car be restrained in a booster seat up to the age of four. He and booster seat saleswoman Barbara Hill are in support of the changes. The website carrying the story cites stats they say almost 200 children between the ages of 4-7 have been killed in Florida car crashes the past decade. They add almost 1,000 more have been injured. If you have been cited for a traffic violation anywhere in Florida and need qualified legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact experienced Traffic Attorney Jason Diamond at the Traffic Ticket Team www.trafficticketteam.com 954-967-9888

Red Light Cameras and Traffic Tickets

https://i1.wp.com/www.bigfoto.com/sites/galery/photos2/red_light.jpg Two separate lawsuits involving red-light cameras in Aventura and Temple Terrace, Florida have officials in Pembroke Pines worried that their Broward city could be next. Critics of the red light cameras assert that the cameras violate drivers’ due process rights. A few months earlier, Florida’s legislature killed a bill that would have allowed municipalities to install red-light cameras at intersections. In response to these concerns, city officials are working to amend their contact with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) so that ATS would shoulder part of the burden of any lawsuits. Last March, Pembroke Pines became the first city in Broward County to fine drivers for speeding using red-light cameras. The first camera is at Pines Boulevard and 129th Avenue. They have since added five more, and violators are fined $125. Twelve other Broward County municipalities are either researching this option or are about to vote on it. Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, and Hallandale Beach have all approved red-light camera programs, despite it being a legal gray area. If you get a traffic ticket for a red light camera, you don’t need to worry about points on your license, but the fines are hefty. If you need some advice, please call me at (954) 967-9888 or email me at jason@trafficticketteam.com

Crack Down on Aggressive Driving in Florida

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Florida Leading The Way Among State That Are Cracking Down On Aggressive Driving Those of us who live in Florida are aware of all the new laws and regulations that are being instituted to crack down on aggressive drivers but apparently the whole country knows about it now thanks to a recent article in USA Today. The article talks about the new Florida traffic ticket law that will go into effect on January 1 that sends a driver found to be at fault in three traffic accidents in a three year period back to school for a strict driver education test that also requires a road test. That law is joined on the books by another that will go into effect in less than a month. That law makes traffic school mandatory for first-time offenders of certain moving violations traffic tickets. That used to be an option for drivers but not a requirement. The new laws are said to be aimed at people who are aggressive drivers, which in the state’s eyes are those who speed, tailgate, change lanes without indicating, weave in and out of traffic and ignore traffic signals. According to reports, this type of behavior on the road causes more fatalities than drunk driving. If you have received a traffic ticket anywhere in Florida please do not hesitate to contact Florida Traffic Ticket Team to discuss the matter 954-967-9888 or jason@trafficticketteam.com.  Our lawyers have handled over 1,000,000 traffic tickets.