In Florida, the offense of DUI or Driving Under the Influence makes it unlawful for anyone who operates a motor vehicle to be under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited or controlled substance.
The offense is proved by evidence of impairment of faculties or test results showing blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of at least 0.08%. For minors, a minimum blood or breath alcohol content of at least 0.02% is sufficient to charge them with DUI.
DUI as Misdemeanor
DUI laws in Florida are quite complicated. Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes contains several provisions that define DUI as a misdemeanor or as a felony in various degrees, depending on specific circumstances.
DUI is generally a misdemeanor and a first time offender may face penalties such as:
- License suspension
- Vehicle impoundment
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- Jail time of not more than one year
The penalties for DUI as a misdemeanor may be enhanced by other factors such as:
- Having a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher
- Being involved in an accident while under the influence, causing property damage or injuries to another
Violation of Implied Consent Law
Florida also has a strict implied consent law which requires anyone who is lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to chemical testing for the purpose of determining the volume of alcohol or drugs in their system. Chemical testing can involve taking samples of the defendant’s blood, urine, or breath. It is a misdemeanor to refuse testing if one has already had their license suspended in the past for refusing a chemical test.
DUI as Felony
DUI may also be charged and punished as a felony which is more serious and carries higher penalties. A DUI can be a felony when:
- The defendant has been previously convicted of a third DUI within a 10-year period;
- The defendant is convicted of a 4th or subsequent DUI regardless of the date of the last conviction;
- Defendant has seriously injured someone as a result of driving under the influence; or
- As a result of driving under the influence, the defendant has killed another person.
Penalties for DUI as a Felony
As a more serious crime, DUI may be punished with imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine of up to $5,000. When a DUI involves death of another person, the DUI classification is elevated to manslaughter which is punished with prison time of up to 15 years or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
Remedies Available to DUI Defendants
If you are charged with a DUI, you may be entitled to appropriate DUI defenses depending on the specific circumstances of your situation. First time DUI offenders, in particular, are not subjected to mandatory minimum jail time and are entitled to probation with community service. Your criminal defense attorney can also evaluate your charge and the evidence against you to determine whether entering into a plea bargain for a lesser charge can get you the best outcome.
Choosing a Vero Beach DUI Criminal Defense Attorney
Your DUI attorney plays an important role in your case. You’ll need a lawyer who has a firm grasp of Florida criminal statutes and knows his way around the complex rules and court procedures. When choosing an attorney for your needs, you’ll also want to find out the kind of experience they have in the specific charge that you are facing.
An added advantage for a criminal law defender is a background in the prosecution of similar offenses which allow a criminal law attorney to anticipate the legal movements of the prosecutor in your case and develop a solid defense strategy that works.
DUI charges must be taken seriously even as a misdemeanor. Without proper legal representation, you may have your charges dismissed or serve lighter penalties as a result of raising sound criminal defenses in your favor.
In Stuart, Florida, the Law Offices of Keith Bregoff, PA is backed by over 23 years of litigation experience in criminal prosecution. Mr. Bregoff initially started as a prosecutor and worked his way up to lead state felony prosecutor, handling a wide range of complex criminal cases and dealing with hundreds of defense attorneys. Years of serving the prosecution also exposed him daily to courtroom activity and judges.
We welcome your call today at (772) 492-8967 to arrange for a free consultation with Mr. Bregoff.