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In the state of Florida, if you’re charged with a DUI (drunk driving or under an illegal substance), you face serious penalties. Possible consequences if convicted could include:
- Jail time
- A 180 day suspension of your driver’s license
- Community service
- A minimum $250 fine and additional court costs
- Participation in a mandatory Victim Awareness Program (Victim Impact Panel)
- Impounding of your vehicle
- A criminal record of your conviction
Penalties for a second or third DUI conviction are far worse. While these penalties can follow a conviction for either drug or alcohol use before driving, there are opportunities to minimize or avoid the consequences after an arrest.
When you are arrested, you will need to act quickly to avoid the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. You have 10 days to request a hearing to prevent the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) from automatically taking your license. You will also be arraigned right away and have to decide how to plead.
Under Florida law, you are prohibited from driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. The .08 percent BAC limit is the standard measurement used across the United States for the "impaired" driver. Any driver under age 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.
WHAT A SARASOTA OR MANATEE COUNTY DUI OR DRUNK DRIVING CONVICTION CAN MEAN TO YOU!
A DUI or drunk driving conviction can be damaging to a young person for several reasons:
- It leaves the convicted person with a criminal record.
- It brings license suspension, which can affect many areas of a person's life.
- It can have an impact on job prospects and graduate school applications, even long into the future.
- It can lead to fines and other unwanted consequences.
- It can adversely affect student financial aid and other academic matters.
Under Florida law, any drunk driving conviction will go on your criminal record, but some forms of DUI are felonies. If you were charged with a criminal offense, you need proper legal advice as soon as possible. You should not talk to the police about the charges until you have consulted a lawyer about your case.
A felony is a serious crime that can lead to significant jail or prison time, not just driver's license suspension and fines. As a driver, you can be charged with felony DUI for several reasons:
Multiple DUIs: If you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after one or more previous DUI convictions, you may be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor. A second or third drunk driving charge must always be taken seriously.
An Accident: You can be charged with a felony for causing a DUI-related accident that resulted in bodily injury. If another driver or a passenger is killed, you can be charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter or another very serious crime.
Driving with a Suspended License (DWLS): It is a crime to drive with a suspended or revoked license. Your DUI case can be greatly complicated if there are issues with your license at the time of the alleged infraction.
Law enforcement officers have different types of sobriety tests at their disposal, including field tests, roadside breath tests and blood tests. When a police officer, deputy or state trooper has suspicion to believe a driver may be drunk, he or she may order a driver to:
- Walk a straight line, recite the alphabet or request another task to check for impairment
- Submit to a Breathalyzer test following a traffic stop
- Submit to a blood draw at a hospital if a roadside test indicates blood alcohol concentration (BAC) past the legal limit of .08
- Be placed under arrest for breath test refusal, which carries an automatic 12-month license suspension
In many cases, sobriety tests can be legally administered by law enforcement personnel. In some cases, a sobriety test can be shown to be inadmissible as evidence because of an illegal traffic stop or a problem with the administration of the test itself. In other situations, a driver can dispute test results.