With a drunk driving rate higher than the national average, Florida has some of the strictest penalties in the country for DUI or driving under the influence. If a court finds you guilty of a DUI, you will deal with the state’s stringent DUI legislation and enforcement, which resulted from an effort to reduce Florida’s drunk driving statistics.
Despite its importance, many drivers still have misconceptions about what constitutes a DUI and its consequences in Florida. Criminal Defense Attorney R. David Williams, founder of the Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, shares some crucial information about Florida DUI criminal cases below.
What Is a DUI in Florida?
A DUI charge in Florida involves two factors. First, a person must be in physical control of some type of motor vehicle. Second, the driver must be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination to the extent that her normal faculties are impaired to be charged with DUI.
In most circumstances, a person is asked to give a sample of their breath to determine its alcohol content. The state of Florida considers a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or greater in order for a driver to be presumed to be impaired by alcohol. If someone refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, impairment can still be proven based on other factors. A driver should realize that whether or not she “feels okay” to drive has no bearing on whether or not she is impaired under Florida law..
What Are the Penalties for a DUI?
When someone is arrested and charged with DUI in Florida, state law mandates certain minimum penalties upon conviction. These include:
- Community service
- Fines and court costs
- License suspension
- DUI school
- Vehicle immobilization
- Possible Jail time
The right criminal defense lawyer can work with you to understand the specifics of your case, get a handle on the possible penalties at play, and explore direction to take in your legal defense.
Another thing to keep in mind is that DUl charges will have different repercussions depending on whether or not this is your first offense.
Penalties for a first-time DUI offense are not as extreme as those for subsequent offenses. With that said, it is possible for a judge to sentence you to up to six months of jail time and fine you up to $1,000 for a first offense.
Other factors that can increase these penalties include, for example, having a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or higher or driving under the influence with a child in the car. Each could lead to a sentence increase of up to nine months of jail time or a fine of up to $2,000, and an ignition interlock device.
License suspension is mandatory for a first offense, and the police will immobilize your car for 10 days. A judge will also mandate a substance abuse evaluation and may order treatment, depending on the specifics of your case.
Criminal cases for a second DUI can result in up to nine months of jail time, up to $2,000 in fines, and possible mandated sentencing.
After your first DUI offense, a second DUI within five years will automatically result in a jail sentence of at least 10 days. Another mandatory element of sentencing for those with multiple DUIs is an ignition interlock device. With this piece of equipment installed in your vehicle, you’ll have to pass a breathalyzer test every time you want to drive your car.
Additionally, police will immobilize your car for 30 days, and alcohol treatment will be mandatory.
After a Subsequent Offense (Beyond the Second)
DUI criminal law allows for up to a year in jail for a third offense and a fine of up to $5,000. Subsequent offenses from that point could result in Felony DUI charges against you, which could subject you to a maximum of five years of prison time.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I’m Charged With a DUI?
The simple answer is yes. If you feel that you’ve been wrongfully charged or if you’re being charged for additional offenses related to your DUI, a criminal attorney will be able to help you better understand your case and options.
Also, a criminal lawyer will be able to help you obtain a work permit, or “hardship license”, which will allow you to continue working while your case is pending in court. A criminal defense lawyer will have the tools and experience necessary to potentially help mitigate some of the adverse effects of a first or subsequent DUI charge.
Whether or not you feel that you committed the offense of DUI, it is in your best interest to obtain legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explore all aspects of your case.
At The Law Offices of R. David Williams in Fort Lauderdale, Your Defense Is Personal to Us
At the Law Offices of R. David Williams, your defense is personal to us. Whether this is your first offense or not, our experienced criminal defense attorney and legal team will provide the best possible defense tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today at 954-522-9997 or complete our online form for a free consultation so we can get started on preparing your defense and informing you about your legal options.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.