Florida Statutes Section 316.193 defines a DUI offense as a crime where a driver is found to have a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% and above. That means that there is enough alcohol in the bloodstream to impair safe driving abilities significantly. Law enforcement officers can stop any person on the road if they suspect they are Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
Charges need not be just on the suspicion that you’ve been drinking. You can also get arrested if you’re under the influence of any other drugs or controlled substances that can hamper your judgment on the road. These drugs include prescription medicines, and if they cause impaired vision and muscle movement or delayed response time, you could face serious penalties and even prison time and fines.
It is Critical that You Respond to DUI Charges Right Away
If the police stop you for a DUI, expect to undergo the field sobriety tests outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Studies show that these casual tests are incorrect around 32% of the time. And, any individual failing the test stands to have their license suspended on the spot. In this situation, you’d want to get in touch with your Lakeland DUI lawyer right away.
Know that you have just 10 days to request an administrative hearing at the DMV. By proving hardship, you can request to have your driving privileges restored for a 42-day period. However, as the skilled attorneys advise, you must also challenge the charges by filing a formal review hearing. At this time, the case facts are explored in court, and you have the opportunity to get the charges dropped. Unless that happens, the arrest appears on your permanent record.
DUI Penalties Depend on Prior Arrests
As in other states in the US, Florida laws are extremely stringent when it comes to DUI. Individuals endanger not just their own life and safety but also risk seriously injuring other people on the road and damaging their property. Each subsequent DUI charge carries harsher sentences.
First DUI Conviction Punishments
- Imprisonment for up to six months
- License revocation for at least 180 days or about six months
- License revocation for at least three years if the accident caused severe bodily harm.
- Monetary fines that may range from $500 to $1,000
- Mandatory installation of the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in cases where a BAC is more than 0.15%
An IID is a breath analysis device connected to your car. When installed, you must verify sobriety before you can turn on your engine.
Second DUI Conviction Punishments
- Imprisonment for at least nine months
- Mandatory installation of the Ignition Interlock Device for a minimum of 12 months
- In case the BAC is above 0.15%, the judge may order mandatory installation of the IID for a maximum of two years.
- License revocation for a maximum of one year if the second DUI occurs more than five years after the initial incident.
- Monetary fines that may range from $1,000 to $5,000
Third DUI Conviction Punishments
- Considered a third degree felony
- Imprisonment of up to 12 months
- Mandatory installation of the Interlock Ignition Device in case of a BAC of 0.15% for two years
- License revocation for at least 10 years if the third DUI occurs within 10 years of the second
- License revocation for up to one year if the third DUI occurs more than 10 years after the first
- Monetary fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000
Fourth DUI Conviction Punishments
- Considered a third degree felony
- Imprisonment for up to five years
- Permanent cancellation of the driver’s license
- Monetary fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000
Getting Insurance Coverage After DUI Convictions
Florida traffic laws do not permit you to drive without auto insurance or without adequate proof of financial responsibility. That’s because Florida is a no-fault insurance state, and the drivers’ insurers must carry the costs for damages and medical expenses in case of an auto accident. After a DUI, defendants must complete and submit an FR-44 form for the insurance carrier.
Typically, offenders end up paying higher premiums for the next three years just to be allowed to drive. They must also buy additional insurance worth $100,000 to $300,000 through bodily injury protection and $500,000 coverage for property damage. Cheaper plans with less coverage will not be available.
Taking the Breathalyzer Test – How it Works
Sobriety tests typically include the Breathalyzer Test, also called the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS). Any individual suspected of not being sober is asked to blow into the mouthpiece of a device that measures alcohol levels in their blood. Florida laws permit people to refuse to take the test. If you do refuse, here are some of the possible events.
- In case this is your first DUI charge, the law allows you to refuse the test, but DUI charges will still apply.
- If you don’t take the test, the arresting officer cannot revoke your license. You’ll appear before the DMV for a first formal review hearing. If you’re successful in proving that you were not under the influence, the license suspension can be revoked.
- Next, defendants must appear for the arraignment hearing followed by the status hearing.
- At the evidentiary hearing, you can have the charges dismissed, or the case goes to trial.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Lakeland
If you’re facing DUI charges, retain the services of the competent attorneys at Smith & Eulo right away. They have an award-winning team on board that can help you put together the best defense possible. Your lawyers will examine the facts of the case to prove that your BAC levels were not really above 0.08% or that you were not in actual control of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Chances are also good that the prosecutor could drop the charges entirely or that the charges could be lowered to reckless driving.
When you’re involved in a situation that can impact your personal and professional life and cause financial setbacks, you need competent representation to resolve the issue. Trust in your lawyers’ experience and skills to help you get the minimum penalties and prevent the incident from appearing permanently on your record.