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Voluntary Intoxication Defense in Florida

As you might have guessed, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to DUI. In State v. McNally, 336 So.2d 713 (Fla. 2d DCA 1976), the court held that it is not a defense to DUI to allege that intoxication was involuntary based on the defendant’s alcoholism.

Not only have the courts made this ruling, but the Florida legislature, in Florida Statute 775.051, did away with the common law defense for voluntary intoxication entirely for all criminal offenses. Florida Statute Section 775.051 provides:

Voluntary intoxication resulting from the consumption, injection, or other use of alcohol or other controlled substance as described in chapter 893 is not a defense to any offense proscribed by law.

Evidence of a defendant’s voluntary intoxication is not admissible to show that the defendant lacked the specific intent to commit an offense and is not admissible to show that the defendant was insane at the time of the offense, except when the consumption, injection, or use of a controlled substance under chapter 893 was pursuant to a lawful prescription issued to the defendant by a practitioner as defined in s. 893.02.

Florida’s first district court of appeals has recognized the right to present an insanity defense in a DUI Property Damage and DUI Manslaughter case. See Tollefson v. State, 525 So.2d 957 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988).

Likewise, in a Michigan case, the appellate court recognized the insanity defense in a misdemeanor DUI case based on brain damage caused by a head injury combined with the long-term effects of alcohol abuse. See People v. Chapman, 165 Mich. App. 215, 418 N.W.2d 658 (1987).

The Florida legislature under Florida Statute 775.051 has severely limited the availability of any evidence of voluntary intoxication to show insanity at the time of the offense to those circumstances in which the voluntary intoxication was caused by lawfully prescribed drugs controlled under Chapter 893.

Contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss defenses that might be available under the particular facts and circumstances of your drunk driving case.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.