If you have been arrested for DUI in Ponte Vedra Beach, you can expect serious penalties to be imposed on you. Florida has cracked down on driving under the influence (DUI), and those accused of being intoxicated or high should have an attorney represent them in both the administrative and criminal aspects of their case.
Contact Lockett Law Today. One of our Ponte Vedra Beach DUI lawyers will be pleased to discuss your case.
Florida’s DUI Law
You can find the statute defining the offense of DUI at Fla. Stat. § 316.193. It essentially defines DUI as being in control of a motor vehicle while having your normal faculties impaired or by having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08, if you are a driver 21 or older. An underage driver cannot have a BAL of 0.02 or higher.
There are some interesting wrinkles to the law:
- You only need to be in control of a vehicle. You do not have to be driving out on the road.
- You can be arrested and convicted for DUI even if your BAL is below the legal limit. That is because the law prohibits being impaired, and some people are impaired even with a lower BAL.
Criminal Penalties for a DUI Conviction
Florida has adopted a series of penalties that escalate for each subsequent DUI arrest. Jail is always a possibility, even for a first offense, and those convicted will have to pay fines and will lose their license for a certain amount of time. The major penalties are as follows:
- First offense: up to 6 months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, and loss of license for 180 days.
- Second offense: up to 9 months in jail, a fine up to $2,000, and loss of license for up to 5 years if your second conviction occurred within 5 years of the first.
- Third offense: up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $5,000, and loss of license for 10 years if third conviction was within 10 years of second conviction.
- Fourth offense: Up to 5 years in prison, up to $5000 in fines, and permanent loss of license.
These penalties will increase if you had a minor in the vehicle with you or if your BAL was very high (0.15 or up).
If you actually injured someone while driving impaired, then you could be facing even more serious penalties. For example, if someone died in a drunk driving accident, you could be charged with DUI manslaughter, which is a felony and can carry over 15 years in jail as punishment.
There is an administrative side to DUI cases that many people are unaware of. These penalties apply regardless of whether you are ever convicted in court of the offense. Anyone charged with DUI will lose their driving privileges within 10 days of the arrest. You can also have your license suspended for simply refusing to take a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer.
Fortunately, those who are picked up can request a formal hearing to argue that they were not operating their vehicle while under the influence. If they lose or fail to request a hearing, then their license will be suspended for at least 6 months. Refusing to take a chemical test results in at least a one-year suspension.
How a Ponte Vedra Beach DUI Attorney Can Help
Being arrested for DUI can dramatically interfere with someone’s life. Many clients find it hard to get to work or school because they lost their administrative hearing and had their license suspended.
At our firm, we work closely with clients on both the administrative and criminal sides of their cases. If contacted promptly, we can represent our clients at the administrative hearing, which increases the odds of a successful resolution.
We also will build a defense to the criminal charges. Each case is different, and some defenses are not appropriate in every case. One possible defense involves arguing that the arresting police officer did not have sufficient reason to stop your vehicle in the first place, which might make his testimony and the chemical test results inadmissible.
Speak to a DUI Lawyer in Ponte Vedra Beach Today
Have you been picked up for DUI? You need an attorney who understands the best avenues for defending these cases. If you call Lockett Law, we can begin building your defense using our years of experience in this field. To get started, please contact us for a free initial consultation.