Florida DUI Quick Guide
Despite efforts by countless awareness programs, drunk driving remains a prominent issue in the state of Florida. Though progress has been made since the rampant DUI problem of the 1980s and early 1990s, Florida still has a massive amount of drunk drivers addressed by the court system every year, with 55,722 DUI tickets and 33,625 DUI convictions occurring in 2011. In 2010, Palm Beach County alone saw over 1500 drunk driving convictions.
Drunk Driving Laws
When you drive an automobile after consuming an alcohol your ability to drive is impaired. Other names and abbreviations are used for drunk driving, common names are:
“Driving While Impaired” (DWI)
“Driving Under the Influence” (DUI
“Operating a motor vehicle while Under the Influence of intoxicating Liquor” (OUIL).
DUI charges are most often pressed against individuals driving a car while affected by alcohol.
DUI Laws differ for each state but most forbid driving a vehicle under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, under the influence of a drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. To be convicted for DUI, the following must be proven:
¨ you drove (operated) a vehicle (which in some states includes boats)—that is, you were in control of the vehicle (in some states, even if you were asleep at the wheel at the side of the road when the officer found you), and
¨ while you operated the vehicle your physical or mental abilities were impaired to at least some degree.
There is a common misconception that if your driving is perfect or almost the same as driving while not impaired than the charges are not imposed. Each state imposes a maximum permissible blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers, and you can be considered legally “drunk” even if you do not feel that you are in any way affected by the alcohol you consumed. The “legal limit” for blood alcohol is normally 0.08%, although drunk driving charges are often possible based upon your driving conduct even at a lower BAC.
Implied Consent Law
Drunk driving increases your chances of an automobile accident and often times a police officer will stop you to perform a DUI check. The law enforcement officials perform roadside field sobriety tests as a means of identifying possible drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If an officer pulls over a driver and suspects that he or she is under the influence of alcohol, the officer has the right to request that the driver take a field sobriety test, breathalyzer test, blood test, or urine test.
A driver is required by law to submit to all of these tests, except the field tests because they are considered to be voluntary. However, if a driver chooses to take a field test and performs poorly, the officer now has probable cause to arrest him or her for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Florida has the “Implied Consent Law”. When you sign your drivers license you have agreed to take these tests upon request. Refusal to take any of the tests will result in an immediate suspension for one year. A second refusal will result in an 18 month suspension.
Zero Tolerance for Drivers under 21
Florida has a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under 21. This means that any driver under 21 that is stopped by law enforcement and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically have their Florida drivers license suspended for 6 months.
DUI Conviction and Ignition Lock Program
When you are convicted of a DUI in Florida you lose your license. The length of time you lose your license depends on your individual case. When you are eligible to get your license reinstated you may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
Florida law mandates that any driver convicted of a second DUI have an Ignition Interlock device installed in their vehicle (section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes). A judge may order an Interlock installed on first convictions depending on circumstances.
Florida Interlock Requirements
¨ First DUI Conviction – If court ordered
¨ First Conviction if 0.20 or minor in car -up to 6 months
¨ Second Conviction – At least 1 year
¨ Second Conviction if 0.20 or minor in car – At least 2 years
¨ Third Conviction – At least 2 years
Florida Penalties for 1st DUI Conviction
¨ Fine – $250 to $500
¨ Community Service – 50 Hours
¨ Probation – Not more than 1 Year
¨ Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months
¨ Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
¨ License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
¨ DUI School – 12 Hours
Hire A DUI Attorney For Your DUI Case
Representing yourself against any criminal charges is generally not advised for many reasons. Drunk driving may seem like a relatively minor offense, but in fact one of the more complicated criminal charges for prosecutors to bring. There are many technical defenses that an attorney may be able to raise, to assist you either in avoiding conviction, negotiating a lesser charge, or in reducing the consequences of conviction.
Because of the serious penalties that come with DUI, it is best not to drive if you have consumed alcohol or are under the influence of another substance. However, if you are arrested for DUI in the West Palm Beach or Boca Raton area, no matter if it was a mistake on your part or a misunderstanding, an experienced Palm Beach County criminal defense attorney can fight to protect your rights and your future from DUI conviction.
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.