DUI Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If you’ve been caught drinking and driving, you may be facing serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if it’s alcohol or another substance, driving under the influence can bring punishments in the form of jail time and fines.
If you find yourself facing DUI charges in the Fort Lauderdale area, the first thing you should do is contact us we have experienced DUI lawyers near you. At Smith and Eulo, our attorneys are standing by waiting to consult you on your case. We have over 20 years of experience defending DUI cases in Florida and are ready to help.
Get in touch with our DUI defense team today, if you’re faced with DUI charges in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
What is a DUI?
Driving under the influence is a legal term that states define in their own way. Florida statute states that a DUI occurs when any of the following takes place:
- You are under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance and your faculties are impaired
- You have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more in your system
Simply put, if you’ve drunk or used other controlled substances to the point where the level of substance in your blood or breath is 0.08 or higher, or your faculties are impaired, you qualify for DUI charges.
Nonetheless, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol level (BAL) is below 0.08. Law enforcement doesn’t need the result of the test to charge you with a DUI if they can prove that your normal faculties are impaired.
If your BAL falls between 0.05 and 0.08, and your faculties are impaired, you will be charged with a DUI. If your test comes back below 0.05, you cannot be charged.
One possible defense in this scenario is asking the law enforcement officer to prove that your faculties were impaired at the moment, which can be difficult to do.
DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, and other DUI Related Charges
Driving under the influence can land you in serious trouble. But there are also several other crimes that can take place that can bring serious penalties. If another person or property is damaged while driving under the influence, your DUI charges can turn into big punishments like manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and reckless driving.
If your DUI results in damage to property, the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, and goes up to second degree felony if another person is injured or killed from the incident. If you were to flee the scene and someone else dies as a result of the accident, you will be charged with a first-degree felony.
Florida laws are strict when it comes to DUIs as serious harm can come as a result. Get in touch with a trusted DUI lawyer to avoid serious punishments.
If you’re too young to legally drink, and you get caught driving under the influence, you can be charged with a DUI if your BAL is 0.02 or greater. Once the BAL crosses 0.05, consequences become more severe.
DUIs and Implied Consent
If you’re driving under the influence and see law enforcement pulling you over, you may start to get nervous or panic. It’s important to stay calm and not make any decisions that can make your situation worse.
By refusing to consent to submit your blood or breath for a DUI test, you will receive an immediate $1,000 fine, and you will be disqualified from the diversion program that is designed to rehabilitate you and potentially reduce your punishment.
You may think that refusing implied consent will prevent DUI charges, but this is not always true. It may be hard to think rationally in the moment but remembering this can help you avoid bigger headaches in the future.
This is another reason why it’s so important to consult a good attorney when facing DUI charges in Fort Lauderdale.
DUI Charges & Punishments
Florida punishments for DUI charges can be severe. The state takes these punishments seriously to prevent future repeat behavior. The structure of the laws considers that mistakes happen, and people should be allowed second chances. Second and third offenses are punished much worse than first offenses. Here’s a breakdown of punishments:
First Offense DUI
First offense DUI punishments include:
- A $500 to $1,000 fine. This may increase to $1,000 – $2,000 if BAL was .15 or higher or if a minor was present.
- 6 months maximum jail time. Sentence may increase to 9 months if your BAL was .15 or higher or if a minor was present
- 180 days to 1 year license suspension
- Potential IID (ignition interlock device) installation requirement. IID is a device that prevents your car from starting until you prove your sobriety. This penalty becomes mandatory at .15 or higher BAL or if a minor was present. This device comes at the cost of the driver.
The punishment you receive for your DUI offense can vary depending on circumstances. If you have a clean record, the court may suggest an alternative sentence that would include the state’s diversion program. This program requires community service rather than jail time.
Second Offense DUI
If this is your second offense, you can expect penalties to get harsher. Penalties may include:
- $1,000 to $2,000 fine. Fine increases to $2,000 to $4,000 when BAL is at .15 or higher or if a minor was in the car.
- 9 months maximum jail sentence. Sentence can increase to 12 months if BAL is .15 or higher or if a minor was in the car. If the second offense is within 5 years of the first, there is a 10-day mandatory jail sentence.
- If the second offense is within 5 years of the first, then your license will be suspended for 5 years.
- Mandatory IID installation for one year at the expense of the driver.
Third Offense DUI
If this is your third DUI offense, the court will try to make an example of you and change your behavior. Because of this, your punishment will be even more severe.
For third DUI offenses, punishments may include:
- $2,000 – $4,000 fine. Fine increases to $4,000 or more if the BAL was .15 of or higher or if a minor present.
- 12 months maximum jail time. This increases to up to 5 years for four or more offenses.
- 10 years of suspended license. A permanent suspension will be mandatory for four or more offenses.
- IID installation mandatory for up to 2 years.
DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
If your DUI results in damage to another’s property or injury or death to another person, your punishment will increase.
Property damage as a result of a DUI will come as a first-degree misdemeanor. Punishments include a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison.
If other people get seriously injured, the charge increases to a third-degree felony which comes with $5,000 in maximum fines and a maximum 5 years in jail.
If someone dies because of your DUI, vehicular manslaughter will be charged as a second-degree felony with a maximum fine of $10,000 and maximum jail time of 15 years.
If someone dies and you flee the scene of the crime, you will be charged with a first-degree felony, up to $10,000 and 30 years in prison.
These punishments will be added on top of your DUI charge.
DUI Charges for Underage Offenders
Your punishment will differ from above penalties if you are underage. If you’re found guilty of a DUI charge, your license will be immediately suspended for 6 months. If your BAL is above 0.05, you will be required to attend a substance abuse program. Additionally, the court can hand down additional punishments depending on the situation.
Consult with One of Our DUI Lawyers
By now, you should understand how serious DUIs are in the state of Florida. But, with all the variation in punishment, there is room for negotiation in many cases. Your case is different from the next person so punishments should not all be one in the same.
Working with an experienced DUI lawyer like ours will help your odds of success. They understand the law inside and out and know how to mount a good defense and negotiate a punishment down.
Get in touch with our DUI lawyers in Fort Lauderdale today for a free consultation on your DUI case.
In addition to our Fort Lauderdale location, we also have offices in:
- Daytona Beach
- Fort Myers
Here are additional legal resources in the Fort Lauderdale area.