Florida takes driving under the influence very seriously, and anyone picked up should not expect the prosecutor to go easy on them. If anything, a DUI conviction could lead to all kinds of stiff penalties, which can make life very difficult.
At Lockett Law, our team has helped many people arrested for DUI. Instead of assuming all hope is lost, you should schedule a meeting with one of our lawyers. We can use our judgment to identify your possible defenses and what punishments you are likely facing.
Florida Statute § 316.193 defines a DUI as being in control of a vehicle in the state of Florida and:
- Having a breath or blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08 or higher, if a driver is 21 or older, or 0.02 or higher if the driver is under 21
- Having your normal faculties impaired, regardless of your BAL
There are two sides to any DUI case—an administrative side and a criminal side. The administrative side is something few people are aware of, but it can seriously impede your ability to carry on with your life. For example, as soon as you are picked up for DUI, an officer will request that you take a chemical test. If you fail, or if you refuse the test, the officer will confiscate your license and issue a 10-day temporary permit.
Defendants will have a chance to request a formal review hearing to get their license back. At the hearing, they can argue that they were not operating the vehicle under the influence. This hearing is independent of any criminal trial, and it is possible to lose at the administrative hearing but win a later trial (and vice versa).
If you lose at the hearing, or don’t request a hearing, your license will be suspended:
- First suspension: 6 months
- Second suspension: 1 year
- Refusal to submit to chemical test: 1 year
- Second suspension for refusal to submit to a chemical test: 18 months
If you win at your hearing, your license will not be suspended. It is also possible to request a hardship license in some situations, which will allow you to drive for limited purposes.
The criminal case against you can also result in stiff penalties, which can include time in jail and/or fines. Consider the following.
- Up to 6 months in jail (more if a minor was in the vehicle or BAL was .15 or higher)
- $500-$1,000 fine (up to $2,000 if BAL is 0.15 or higher)
- License revocation for a minimum of 180 days
- Up to 9 months in jail (up to 12 months if minor was in the vehicle or BAL was .15 or higher)
- $1,000-$2,000 fine (up to $4,000 if BAL is .15 or higher)
- License revocation for up to 5 years if second conviction was within 5 years of first offense
- Up to 12 months in jail, including mandatory time in some cases
- $2,000-$5,000 fine (but not below $4,000 if high BAL)
- License revocation for at least 10 years if third conviction was within 10 years of the second conviction
Someone who has been convicted 4 times for DUI can face up to 5 years in prison and a minimum of $2,000 in fines. There is also a mandatory permanent revocation of license.
If someone is injured while you were driving intoxicated, then you are facing very serious penalties. A person has committed DUI manslaughter when they are guilty of DUI and contributed to the death of someone or an unborn child.
DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony unless the driver failed to render aid, in which case it is a first-degree felony. Defendants face up to 30 years in prison depending on how the crime is charged.
Defenses to DUI
Many clients wrongly believe that there is nothing they can do after being arrested for DUI. However, defenses are often possible. For example, we can challenge the reason the officer stopped you in the first place. If the officer had no valid reason, then the stop is unconstitutional, and we might get the case dismissed.
In other situations, we can challenge the validity of the chemical test or, if you took no test, the officer’s testimony or dashcam video. Everything depends on the circumstances of your case.
Remember, an arrest is not a conviction—even though it might feel like one. Contact Lockett Law today. One of our DUI lawyers in Lakeside, FL can meet with you for a complimentary case evaluation.