What You Need To Know About DUI Arrests in Florida
It is not illegal to drink and drive in Florida, so long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not over .08 or your normal faculties are not impaired. It is not illegal to have a drink with your meal and drive. However, it is illegal to drink too much and then drive. The thresh-hold for legal intoxication (.08 in Florida) is easy to exceed. The best advice to follow is not to drink and drive. Ever.
You will be presented two tests- one roadside and one at the jail in most circumstances. The roadside units are subject to frequent challenges and are rarely recommended. In Florida, it is a crime if you refuse to take a breath test TWICE. That does NOT mean twice in the same night. It means during two separate incidents. So, you can get arrested for a second crime along with the DUI if you refuse to take the breath test and you refused to take one in the PAST. Driver’s license suspension periods for first refusals are one year; second or subsequent refusals are 18 months. If you have a commercial driver’s license, your first refusal means that you cannot drive for one year. If you have a second refusal in a commercial motor vehicle, you are not allowed to have a commercial driver’s license anymore. Consider your decision carefully.
Field Sobriety Tests
If the officer asks you to do field sobriety tests, there is no requirement that you must stick your up their leg for 30 seconds or walk down a line in the middle of the road or recite the alphabet frontward or backwards. You may refuse doing those things and there are no legal penalties associated with them. In fact, without the field sobriety test, the state’s case becomes weaker. However, it will increase the likelihood of arrest if the officer deems you as uncooperative. Whether or not someone should complete field sobriety tests is totally up to that person and a lawyer cannot necessarily advise as to whether the person should refuse the tests. It depends on the situation (source).
- write down everything about your DUI or DWI arrest
- remember you are innocent until proven guilty
- hire a qualified and experienced DUI defense lawyer
- learn the consequences of a guilty conviction
- contact the DMV to request an administrative hearing
- assume you are guilty if your BAC is over .08%
- discuss your DUI arrest with others
- talk to police without your lawyer
- drive if your license is suspended
- drink and then drive
Drunk Driving Penalties in Florida
If you drink alcohol and drive you dramatically increase your chance of being in a crash. In addition, if you are pulled over and the officer asks you to take a blood, urine or breath test you are required to comply. 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. The .02 limit really means that you cannot have a single drink and drive. And that’s the idea.
For drivers over 21 the legal limit in Florida is .08. Regardless of your age be aware that drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Below we have summarized the penalties in the state of Florida for a first offense DUI, but the average cost including legal defense, fines, and auto insurance increases is $8000.
Florida Penalties for DUI First 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
With each additional DUI conviction the penalties in Florida are more severe (source).
West Palm Beach DUI/DWI Attorney
At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we advise our clients to neither blow into a breathalyzer machine nor do a roadside test. Why give evidence to the state if you don’t have to?
If you have submitted to a breathalyzer test and failed, that is not the end of your case. The Intoxilzer 5,000 and Intoxilzer 8,000 breathalyzer machines used to measure BAC in Florida have significant problems. If you have an expert witness and an experienced attorney who can challenge the accuracy of the machine in court, the BAC evidence may be thrown out. DUI/DWI Lawyer Andrew Stine has obtained not-guilty verdicts due to machine failure for clients who have had blood alcohol levels of .229 and .227.
The most important thing in DUI/DWI cases is early intervention by your attorney. This preliminary involvement will help you avoid the consequences of a conviction, which are very serious in Florida. We will also represent you at your hearing before the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in order to protect your right to drive.
In addition to DUI/DWI charges, we represent clients in DUI accident cases, including
- Leaving the scene of accident with severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI homicide
- DUI/DWI manslaughter
There are defenses in DUI accident cases, which an experienced and capable lawyer can use. Even if you made a statement to police during your arrest, our lawyers can usually get that evidence thrown out of court. Any statement you give officers cannot be used against you due to the Florida accident report privilege.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.
Protecting your right to drive
Unless your request a DMV hearing within 10 days of arrest, you will lose your driver’s license. Even if your license is revoked, we can apply for a hardship license, which is usually immediately granted to you. We have never had a hardship license denied to one of our clients.