If you've been arrested and charged with a DUI in Broward County,
West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale Florida, the worst thing you can do is sit and wait in hopes that the situation will resolve itself. A DUI charge needs to be handled aggressively, which is why you need to contact Adam Frankel, P.A., immediately for a full consultation.
Below are several charges related to DUI laws in Florida, and a brief explanation of each is included:
DUI/ DWI Laws in Florida
A person will be charged with DUI in Florida if he or she exceeds the legal limit of alcohol in his or her system at the time of the testing. That legal limit is defined as a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood if a blood test is used. If a breath test is used to measure BAC, the legal limit is .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The other requirement is that the defendant must be operating a motor vehicle at the time of the arrest.
Although the penalties for conviction of a DUI in Florida range in severity, each conviction carries significant consequences. A first-offense DUI conviction results in a fine between $250 and $500, and the defendant could face up to six months in jail. A second-offense DUI carries a fine between $500 and $1,000 and the potential for nine months in jail. A second offense could also result in the required placement of an interlock ignition device on the defendant's car for a period of one year, and the defendant will have to pay the costs of installation of this device.
A third conviction of DUI within ten years of prior convictions is much more serious. In this situation, the defendant faces a charge that is a felony in the third degree, and all third-degree felonies in Florida carry the potential of one year in prison and two years of having an interlock ignition device placed in his or her car.
Vehicular manslaughter is the most serious charge that's related to DUI in Florida, and the statute that governs this situation calls for severe consequences for a conviction, as is stated below.
Any person found to be operating a vehicle under the influence and who causes the death of another human being is guilty, upon conviction, of:
- A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
- A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:
- At the time of the crash, the person knew, or should have known, that the crash occurred; and
- The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.
A second-degree felony in Florida can result in up to 15 years in state prison, while a first-degree felony ranges in prison term from 30 years up to a life sentence.
Field Sobriety Testing
Field sobriety testing is a controversial issue everywhere in the United States, as refusing such a test during a DUI stop will result in severe consequences. The Florida legislature enacted a new, tougher law dealing with field sobriety testing refusals in 2002, and the text of this statute is below:
"(The defendant)...shall also be told that if he/she refuses to submit to a lawful test of his/her breath and/or urine, and his/her driving privilege has been previously suspended for a prior refusal to submit to a lawful test of his/her breath, urine, or blood, he/she commits a misdemeanor in addition to any other penalties."
If you are convicted of DUI in Florida, your license will be suspended for a period of time. There are circumstances that will allow you limited driving privileges, and Mr. Frankel will be able to explain them to you. Below you'll find the statutory recommendations for suspension periods as a result of a DUI conviction in Florida:
- First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year.
- Second Conviction Within 5 Years: Minimum 5 years revocation, with a possibility of eligibility for hardship reinstatement after 1 year. Other 2nd offenders face a suspension between 180 days and one year.
- Third Conviction Within 10 Years: Minimum 10 years revocation, with possible eligibility for hardship reinstatement after 2 years. Other 3rd offenders same as "A" above; one conviction more than 10 years prior and one within 5 years, same as "B" above.
- Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred and Murder with Motor Vehicle: Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement.
- DUI Manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. If no prior DUI related convictions, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years.
- Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: Minimum 3-year revocation. DUI Serious Bodily Injury having prior DUI conviction is same as "B-D" above.
Under 21 Fines and Penalties
The statutes are clear and the punishments severe for anyone convicted of DUI in Florida who is under the age of 21, which is the legal drinking age. A defendant not yet 21 will face a lower legal BAC threshold and stiffer penalties for any DUI-related charge. Below are the statutory recommendations for defendants who fall into this category:
- First Suspension for Persons Under the Age of 21 With An Alcohol Level .02 or above: 6 months.
- Second or Subsequent Suspensions: 1 year.
- First Suspension for Refusal to Submit to Breath Test: 1 year.
- Second or Subsequent Suspensions for Refusal: 18 months.
These suspensions take effect immediately. If the defendant is found to have a BAC of .05 or higher, the suspension shall remain in effect until completion of a substance abuse evaluation and course. An additional aspect of this situation is that the arresting officer shall issue a temporary permit effective 12 hours after issuance which is valid for 10 days, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.
Overall, being arrested and charged with DUI in Florida can be a serious offense, and is one that needs to be handled proactively. You can take that first step by contacting Adam Frankel, P.A., immediately for a consultation.
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