According to Florida law, a DUI is driving or operating a car while impaired by alcohol or drugs and having a BAC of 0.08 or above.
A DUI in Florida comes with severe charges, and being convicted can result in serious consequences. The punishment for DUI often includes time in jail, driver’s license suspension, hefty fines, court fees, probation, community service, counseling, and mandatory DUI classes. Being convicted of a DUI can also have adverse effects on your future chances for employment and education, making it critical that you consult with a DUI defense attorney immediately.
A professional DUI lawyer can mitigate the repercussions caused by the DUI charge and guide you through your case as painlessly as possible.
What Happens if You Are Charged With a DUI in Florida
In Florida, if you have been charged with a DUI, you have ten days from the date of your arrest to avoid license suspension.
Your driver’s license is automatically suspended when you are arrested for DUI. Within the next ten days, you can only drive to work. Once the ten days are over, your license will be either fully suspended, suspended but with the ability to go to work, or reinstated.
First-time offenders have a couple of options during this ten-day timeframe, which are:
- Request an informal or formal administrative hearing
- Forfeit the right to a hearing for an immediate work-related license
The administrative hearing determines if the police had good reason to pull you over and charge you with a DUI. You will be able to obtain a 42-day hardship license right away. An unsuccessful hearing could cause a month or 90-day time frame to apply for an additional hardship license. Your license could be reinstated if the hearing is successful.
The license is valid during the length of a first-time DUI offense. The defendant must also finish a DUI class prior to applying for a hardship license .
If you have been previously convicted of a DUI, you will not be eligible for a hardship license. Second-time offenders must request a court hearing.
Failure to take action during the ten-day window will result in a driver’s license suspension for six months or more, contingent on the precedence of your arrest and criminal record.
A competent Florida DUI defense law firm will examine your case and your rights to determine the next best steps.
Different Types of DUI Charges
How you are charged with a DUI generally depends on the number of prior DUI convictions you have committed.
Under Florida Statute § 877.111 , a person’s normal faculties are impaired if their BAC level is 0.08 or more per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath.
The Statute also states that you do not have to be driving the vehicle to be charged. You must be in actual physical control.
Actual physical control means that the defendant must be physically inside the vehicle or able to operate the car, regardless of whether they are driving it. For example, being inside a car but not having your keys would not fall under this category.
Thus, you can be charged for a DUI if you could potentially operate the car at the time of the arrest.
If the defendant is arrested for a BAC of 0.08 or higher, this is commonly known as a per se DUI offense.
Penalties if You Have Been Charged With DUI
Many critical factors will determine if you are innocent or guilty and what your DUI charges will be if you are charged with a DUI in Florida.
In the state of Florida, the law sets specific compulsory minimum sentences for DUI charges, and the punishment increases in severity for each new offense.
First-time DUI offenders can be punished by a maximum jail time of six months.
A further DUI conviction that happens within five years of the first DUI conviction could be punishable by a maximum of nine months of jail time and up to a year if the BAC was over 0.15. Your license can also be suspended for up to five years.
There are also heavy fines associated with DUI charges: the first offense can include a fine between $ 500 and $ 1,000, while a second offense can have penalties between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000.
Florida Sobriety Test Laws
No one ever wants to take a field sobriety test, which can be a confusing and embarrassing task. You will be asked to perform unusual movements on the side of the road while being videotaped by law enforcement.
Many motorists are not aware that you are not required to take a field sobriety test. It is essential that you know your rights before you have a DUI arrest.
Field sobriety tests are a battery of tests designed by law enforcement to help them make a DUI arrest. The tests may include:
- You are asked to take a breath test
- You are tasked to walk heel-to-toe before turning
- You are asked to stand on one leg and count backward
- You are asked to track a pen that is moved in front of your eyes without turning your head
These sobriety tests are designed to be difficult to perform successfully, even while sober. In many instances, the officers give the tests incorrectly, making them harder to accomplish.
In the state of Florida, you may face driver’s license suspension if you refuse a blood, urine, or breath test after:
- An arrest
- Being read the implied consent notice
In Florida, the officer may try to convince you to take a breathalyzer test. Your DUI attorneys can gather evidence on the breath test, including the type of machine used, calibration records and repair records, and data on machine performance during routine monthly and annual inspections. This type of evidence could be critical in your case.
Even if you blow under the legal limit, the officer is trained to request a urine test in order to collect further evidence against you. They will use this test to check if you have any prescription medicines or illegal substances in your system, such as cocaine or marijuana.
When there has been an accident, the officer will also ask you to take a blood test. They may even obtain a blood test if you have been taken to a hospital or clinic. It can be difficult for them to obtain a blood test as this requires a warrant.
If you have been asked to submit a test and you refuse, the attending officers are trained to gather evidence indicating that you have refused a test because of a “guilty conscience,” meaning that you know you will fail a test. In scenarios like this, DUI attorneys will show why an innocent person would refuse to submit to invasive tests that can be inaccurate.
There is no law that states you need to perform a field sobriety or breath test. Your best defense in this situation is to avoid giving any evidence that the state can later use against you. While it is always good to cooperate with law enforcement, you should politely refuse in this scenario.
Before taking a breath test, you should contact a DUI defense lawyer who has experience defending DUI charges.
What Is The Implied Consent Law?
If you have been stopped by the police, and the officer has reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated, they will ask you to perform a breath test. A valid test necessitates two separate breath tests within 0.02 BAC of each other taken 15 minutes apart. If the breath tests are taken 16 minutes apart, they are not considered valid.
Law enforcement can use implied consent to request a breath test and charge you with a crime if you refuse to take it. However, the officer must request a warrant to perform a blood test.
Under Florida law, you can be asked to take a urine test that a lab will test. Not all federally controlled substances are on the approved list, so your Florida DUI attorney will ask what kinds of medication are used as a basis of a DUI charge.
You can only be asked for a blood sample in Florida if someone has suffered serious bodily harm or death. Still, they will need to request a search warrant. You may also be asked for a blood test if you have arrived impaired at a hospital or clinic and a breath or urine test is not possible.
Understand your rights by contacting a DUI attorney to get legal answers and information.
According to statistics , more than 5,000 motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol happen every year in Florida. Out of these accidents, over 350 result in serious bodily injury or fatalities. Over 29% of overall traffic-related fatalities were due to driving under the influence. Subsequently, law enforcement agencies work hard to increase the penalties for individuals who have had a DUI conviction.
Drunk driving is often punished heavily, especially in cases where another person is seriously injured or killed. If this is the case, the impaired driver will likely face DUI manslaughter charges.
The unfortunate truth is that there are cases where individuals are wrongfully charged with driving while impaired at the time of the crash. These individuals encounter severe consequences from a DUI conviction, which will likely have a long-term effect on their lives.
If you have been wrongfully accused of DUI manslaughter, you should call a reputable Florida DUI defense attorney as soon as you can.
Hire a Florida DUI Defense Attorney
It is crucial to hire an experienced Florida DUI attorney early in your case to protect your driving rights and increase your chances of avoiding conviction.
At the Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm, our DUI lawyers are with you each step of the way when defending your DUI case, including:
- Requesting a formal hearing to prevent your driver’s license from being suspended in the first ten days after the arrest
- Attending the arraignment or first court date
- Filing pre-trial motion hearings , including a motion to suppress or dismiss the charges
- Negotiating with the prosecutor to obtain lesser charges like reckless driving
- Conducting a bench trial to get a “not guilty” verdict
Our law firm represents Florida residents who have been arrested for drunk driving.
When a DUI Is either a Misdemeanor or a Felony
In most instances, many cases in Florida for a DUI are classified as a misdemeanor. A DUI can only be filed as a felony if the defendant:
- Has two prior DUI offenses, with one being within the last ten years
- Has three prior DUI offenses
- Has caused an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death of another person
The punishment for a DUI conviction can be more severe if the prosecutor can prove any of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant has a third DUI outside of ten years of a prior DUI
- The defendant has a second DUI within five years of a prior DUI
- The defendant has caused a crash with non-serious bodily injury or property damage
- There was a minor under 18 years present in the crash
- The defendant had a BAC reading of 0.15 or above
Our DUI lawyers are always available to represent you after your DUI arrest. Call us right away so we can start working on your case.
How Serious Are DUI Cases in Florida?
Under Florida Statutes § 316.193 (9) and 327.35 (8), one cannot bond out of jail until:
- The blood alcohol level is under 0.05
- Eight hours have transpired since the arrest
Typically, a first DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor, carrying minimum mandatory penalties that can be more serious than many third-degree felonies.
Court hearings and trials can be complex due to the evidence within the case, including field sobriety tests or chemical tests.
Furthermore, DUI cases are treated with more hostility because of the public stigma and pressure from citizen action bodies like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. During trials, many prospective jurors are disfavorably against drinking and driving for various reasons.
According to the Florida Rules of Traffic Court, rule 6.290 , no court can suspend or withhold adjudication of guilt for the offense of driving or being in physical control of a car while:
- Blowing a blood alcohol level over the limit of 0.08
- Being under the influence of alcoholic beverages or chemical substances
Because the court cannot withhold adjudication, anyone convicted of a DUI cannot seal their criminal record, so it is visible to potential employees or landlords.
It is essential to speak with a Florida DUI attorney who can help you fight these charges to get a lesser charge or have the case dismissed.
Why You Should Fight Your DUI Charges
Having professional DUI attorneys on your side gives you a fighting chance to avoid a conviction that can be upwards of $ 15,000. It can also include court costs, fines, DUI school, an impounded vehicle, exceedingly increased insurance premiums, and the time and effort of 50 community service hours.
Being convicted of DUI could result in thousands of dollars for the next three to five years in increased car insurance.
In fact, it is mandated that you apply for high-risk insurance known as “FR-44” insurance .
The best way to avoid any of these long-term penalties after the DUI conviction is to have your charge changed to reckless driving.
For example, if the officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle, then the court will not accept evidence in the case. Suppression of evidence can likely result in your charges being dropped entirely.
At Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm, we know that certain professions that have been charged with a DUI in Florida can be in peril, including medical professionals, teachers, college students, military, and more.
Even if you can get the charges dropped to avoid a DUI conviction, the DUI arrest itself can have devastating consequences for your career and educational opportunities, particularly if you have specific licenses or certifications.
Importance of a Florida DUI Attorney
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence in Florida, it is vital to have a qualified defense lawyer representing you in court.
Florida DUI lawyers can challenge law enforcement’s evidence against you and get your charges reduced to reckless driving or even dismissed. At Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm, we appreciate that facing DUI charges is a challenging and stressful time. Our DUI attorneys thoroughly understand Florida criminal law and how to win your DUI case.
At Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm, our DUI attorneys can go over the results of any blood alcohol field tests and the arresting officer’s procedure to find any inconsistencies. We will work to reinstate your driver’s license so that you are not further inconvenienced. Using an Uber for transportation can add hundreds of dollars or more to your case.
We have extensive training in Florida DUI laws and will work hard to clear your name and obtain the lowest possible sentence.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, please contact our law firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a competent DUI defense lawyer.
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