Mary Jane, Pot, Weed, (about a hundred or more names) whatever you call it, the courts and the Florida Legislature officially call it Cannabis. And they officially disapprove of your possession of said substance until the laws on the books say otherwise, unlike about 20 other States who have already approved its use for Medical Purposes and the like.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… you aren’t supposed to have it – BUT, if you get caught with it in your possession, it’s a bigger deal than you might realize. In fact, Florida dislikes this herb so much that it is a First Degree Misdemeanor to have it, meaning you can face up to a year in county jail and be required to pay up to a $1,000 fine if you are caught with less than 20 grams (about the same weight as 20 paperclips) worth. Have more than that amount and you’re looking at a 3rd Degree Felony, facing up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine. On top of those penalties, there’s a secret little snowball “collateral consequence” to a conviction – a two (2) year Driver’s License Suspension. Yep, that’s right.. TWO YEARS, NO DRIVING.
Let’s say you’re caught with the misdemeanor amount and offered a plea deal of a fine and adjudication of guilt (conviction). Let’s say that you are later caught driving and you haven’t obtained a hardship license. Uh Oh… you are now facing a Driving While License is Suspended charge and depending on your history, you could be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony. Isn’t that just grand?
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there is something that you can do to get your license back free and clear much sooner than the two years, but you have to take the initiative!
According to Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles, a person who is convicted of a Misdemeanor (not Felony) Possession of Cannabis < 20 Grams can get their license back after only six (6) months! BUT, here’s the catch. You have to attend and complete an approved Substance Abuse Out-Patient Treatment Program and show proof to the DMV.
Not all programs are created equal, the program has to be DCF (Department of Children and Families) related, like the Center for Drug Free Living. For information about Central Florida Outpatient Locations for the Center for Drug Free Living, click here. For other treatment locations, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services Locator.
Before beginning any treatment program, confirm with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles that the program has been approved.
Until the law changes, be smart, follow the rules, attend a program, and do yourself a favor by getting your license back.
For any questions about this article, or for more information, contact the Colbert Law Firm at 407-412-7234 or visit us online at http://www.thecolbertfirm.com.