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Factors Contributing To Increased DUI Penalties in Florida

phones-against-drunk-driving_180x120-150x120Authorities have arrested a woman who they say was driving impaired and nearly hit another vehicle while in a student pickup line at a Miramar elementary school.

According to a police report, an officer stopped Lisset Llauro, 39, of Pembroke Pines, in her 2010 Mercedes-Benz shortly before 2:40 p.m. Monday after observing her run over plastic lane markers in the pickup line outside Silver Lakes Elementary School at 2300 SW 173rd Ave.

When the officer approached Llauro, she seemed slightly disoriented, had slurred speech and told police she didn’t know why she had driven over the lane markers, authorities said.

Source, full story.

Florida Drunk Driving Definition

Drunk driving, known as driving under the influence or DUI in Florida, is governed by Fla. Stat. § 316.193. This statute defines the offense as when someone is driving or in actual physical control on Florida roads while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, inhalants, or a combination of them to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired, or when that person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit of .08. Normal faculties are defined by Fla. Stat. § 316.1934 as the elements of function, such as balance, needed to perform various general acts of daily life like walking, talking, or speaking.

The normal faculties clause of Florida’s DUI law means you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving in Palm Beach County even if your BAC is not at or over the legal limit. If your BAC is over the legal limit of .08, you are considered to be charged with what’s known as “per se” DUI and will automatically be arrested. The type of DUI most affected by the normal faculties clause is driving under the influence of drugs such as oxycodone or marijuana, or inhalants, as there is no statutory level of intoxication for these substances. A prescription for a controlled substance is not a valid DUI defense. An experienced West Palm Beach DUI defense lawyer can work to build a defense against these various elements of DUI and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Factors That May Increase Your DUI Penalties

Prior Convictions

If you have a previous DUI on your record you may face increased penalties.  Some states require the conviction to be within a certain number of years, others do not. Some jurisdictions even count convictions received in other states.

High BAC

A lot of states increase the penalties and charges based on how high your BAC level was. A BAC result above a .15 or .20 will usually lead to increased punishment AND the filing of additional charges against you. Check your local applicable laws and be sure to read up on how your state punishes “per se” violations.

Prior Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test

If you have been arrested for a DUI before, and you refused to give a sample of your breath, blood, and/or urine for purposes of testing your BAC, you may face enhanced or additional charges if you refused the chemical test again. Additionally, separate laws apply to how your driving privileges will be suspended for refusals, so be sure to check your local Implied Consent laws.

Speeding or Reckless Driving

Receiving a ticket for speeding or reckless driving at the same time you are pulled over for DUI may be costly. Some states will not enhance your DUI penalties as a result of speeding unless you were driving a certain amount over the posted speed limit (usually about 20 MPH over). It is especially important to consult with an attorney when you are facing multiple charges, as you may be able to have them consolidated for more efficient and cost effective litigation.

Child Endangerment

A DUI arrest while driving with a child in your car is not an easy factor to defend. Some states have age limits (6 or younger) and such a situation could be especially damaging to your case. Prosecutors and judges may be less sympathetic. You may run the risk of losing custody, or encounter problems from social services.

Accident/Injury

DUI accident cases are very serious and carry very serious consequences.  Additional charges and increased punishments will result depending on how badly people were injured. For example, states with DUI Serious Bodily Injury charges (like Florida, for example) have severe penalties that will be imposed even if the person who was seriously injured was you!

Property Damage

States that have DUI Property Damage statutes make it a separate and more severe crime for DUI cases that result in property damage, usually triggered when damage is estimated to be over a certain dollar amount. Such cases are complex and sometimes unfair, as the charge is normally based on a damage assessment made by the police (who are not the most qualified for such estimations).

Underage Drinking / Minor in Possession

All 50 states have enacted what are called “Zero Tolerance” laws, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any amount of alcohol. This means that even in states that have a .08 policy, minors who are pulled over for drunk driving who register even a .001 will be arrested for DUI.

Driving With a Suspended License

No matter what state you are in, it is a crime in and of itself to drive with a suspended license (DWLS).  And if you are busted for DWLS while pulled over and suspected for DUI, it certainly wont help your chances of avoiding an arrest. A DUI and DWLS may be charged separately but if convicted you may likely be required to serve your sentences consecutively.

DUI in a School or Construction Zone

For obvious reasons, speed limits are lower and traffic violations are increased if they occur in a school or construction zone. These laws are in place to protect any potential child or worker from incurring any harm.  Drinking and driving is dangerous enough, and in school and construction zones its even worse. A conviction of DUI while in such a zone may result in higher punishments, additional charges, etc.

Source

West Palm Beach DUI Defense Attorney

Florida DUI convictions come with serious penalties, and defending against the DUI charges takes someone with in-depth knowledge of the many facets in a DUI case. If you have been arrested for DUI in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, or Wellington, take the important first step in your Palm Beach County DUI defense strategy and call Andrew D. Stine, P.A. immediately.

Skilled and knowledgeable West Palm Beach drunk driving defense lawyer Andrew Stine has over 10 years of experience defending clients like you, and is a former public defender and army medic. His life and legal experiences give him an in-depth understanding of DUI charges and militant attention to detail that he can apply to building a strong, comprehensive defense for your West Palm Beach area DUI case.

To find out more about what Andrew D. Stine, P.A. can do for your drunk driving case in Palm Beach County, call 561.880.4300today and schedule your free initial case consultation.

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