Because of the extreme danger posed by impaired drivers, being charged with DUI in Jacksonville is a serious criminal offense that is punished to the fullest extent of the law in the state of Florida. Even a first offense by someone with no criminal record can result in thousands of dollars in fines, suspended driving privileges and even jail time.
Your chances for a successful outcome defending against charges of driving under the influence is greatly improved by retaining the services of an experienced DUI attorney who is well versed in Florida’s drunk driving statutes.
What is a DUI Charge?
In simple terms, driving under the influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or greater or being perceived as impaired when behind the wheel. The severity of a DUI charge depends on a variety of factors that could both affect and increase penalties for the offense.
Determining intoxication or impairment level is done through a number of different avenues.
- Field Sobriety Tests: The first and most direct approach is a field sobriety test conducted by an officer of the law after a traffic or checkpoint stop. This test consists of a number of physical actions requiring fine motor skills and highly difficult for someone who is impaired to perform.
- Breathalyzer Tests: Along with a field sobriety test, a portable breathalyzer test may be conducted at the location of the traffic stop.
- Blood/Urine Tests: All 50 states have implied consent laws which dictate that a person who has been arrested on a DUI charge must submit to a chemical test to determine BAC level and to detect other intoxicants.
o This includes breathalyzer tests, but also encompasses other types of tests.
o A blood test is considered the most effective way to determine intoxication level and presence of other alcohol and narcotics in the system.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville, FL
First Time DUI Offenses
Because of the seriousness of DUI offenses in the state of Florida, even a first-time offender with no other criminal record can find themselves facing the possibility of up to six months jail time. This sentence could increase to 9 months in jail for BAC levels exceeding 0.15%. Additional penalties for a first time DUI offense include:
- Suspension of driving privileges for as much as one year
- Up to $1,000 in fines and penalties
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) at the expense of the driver
- Community Service
- DUI School or other substance abuse treatment programs
Multiple DUI Offenses
It is a sad fact that often a single DUI offense, with its severe penalties and consequences, is not enough to discourage some drivers from offending again.
A 2nd DUI conviction within five years of the first offense comes with decidedly harsher repercussions such as:
- Up to a year in jail
- As much as $4,000 in fines
- Suspension of driving privileges for as long as five years
- Impoundment of the vehicle in question for up to one month
- Probation for up to 1 year
- Mandatory IID installation at driver’s expense
- DUI school or other substance abuse treatment programs
A 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years carries penalties including:
- Up to 5 years in Florida state prison
- $5,000 in fines
- Suspension of driving privileges for up to ten years
- Vehicle impoundment for 3 months
- Five years of probation
- 2 years of mandatory IID installation and use
Any conviction for driving under the influence in the state of Florida past a 3rd is automatically elevated to a 3rd degree felony, punishable by five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Underaged DUIs in Jacksonville, FL
There is a clear-cut zero tolerance policy toward underaged drivers in Jacksonville and the state of Florida. Any measurable level of intoxication in persons under the age of 21 rises to the level of DUI offense in Florida.
While this law is well intentioned and designed to curb underage drinking, it can often do more harm than good as it can lead to outsized repercussions that follow a young person for life.
Defending Against DUI Charges
Due to the nature of DUI testing, there is invariably room to call into question the veracity of every aspect of an arrest on a charge of driving under the influence. Even if a person’s test result reveals a BAC under the legal limit, a police officer can still conduct an arrest on a person they believe is impaired despite the results of a chemical test.
From the officer having probable cause to pull the defendant over, to the accuracy of any chemical tests, to procedural mistakes made during the arrest, the lawyers at Smith & Eulo have years of experience fighting DUI charges to draw from.
With so much at stake, it is imperative that you reach out to the attorneys at Smith & Eulo as soon as possible so that the evidence against you can be thoroughly examined and a defense strategy can be formed.
Call Smith & Eulo for criminal defense against DUI charges in Jacksonville, Florida today.