Are You Facing the Aftermath of Your First DUI Offense?
Are you unsure of the effects this will have on your life or what you can possibly do to lessen the blow of DUI Penalities?
Florida laws have become more strict over the last few years since more than 20,000 DUI offenders were re-arrested for driving on suspended licenses in 2010.
Still, only about half of the DUI arrests made in the state per year end in DUI convictions.
With the multitude of arrests, the State has toughened the DUI penalties for DUI convictions.
Because of the harsh legal, administrative, and even social consequences a DUI can have on your life, it is important to get familiar with the DUI and DWI laws and to know how an attorney can help you in your case.
Florida Standards for DUI Penalties
Florida police officers make arrests when the operator of a vehicle or bicycle is driving under the influence (DUI). While the terms DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, DUI is the official term used in the State of Florida.
This can mean the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Overdosing on prescription or over-the-counter drugs, such as Nyquil, pain medication or sleeping aids, as well as illegal drugs can impair a driver just as likely as alcohol does.
Blood Alcohol Content
If you are arrested for a DUI, Florida law requires that you take a blood, breath or urine test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or if you are under the influence of drugs. The standard BAC limit across the United States is .08 percent. The State of Florida prohibits driving a vehicle with a BAC level of .08 percent or higher.
The State of Florida has less tolerance for drivers of commercial vehicles, at .04 percent, and the limit for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 is .02 percent.
The number of drinks it takes you to reach the BAC limit depends on your body weight. While your BAC limit may tell you how many drinks you may legally have, it is still wise not to drink and drive.
Being in Control of The Vehicle
In addition to an illegal BAC level, police enforcement must be able to prove that you were in control of your vehicle. It must be shown that the vehicle is operable, that you were in the driver’s seat and that you had constructive possession of the key to your vehicle.
Note that this can mean you don’t even have to be driving your car to be arrested for a DUI. The driver can be asleep in the car but have the potential to wake up and drive it. If the driver has actual, physical control of the vehicle and is under the influence, he or she could be convicted of a DUI.
Legal Consequences for First Offenders of Intoxicated Driving
If you are convicted of a DUI, you may face a number of administrative and criminal penalties.
Administrative penalties include suspension of your driver’s license. For your first offense, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for anywhere from six months to one year. If you violate the implied consent law by refusing to submit to chemical testing, your license will be suspended for one year.
After you are charged, you have 10 days to request a DMV Administrative Review Hearing with no extensions possible. This hearing is your chance to keep your license. You can also choose to challenge your suspension, which gives you 42 extra days of driving on a temporary permit, only for business purposes.
Criminal penalties for first offenders may include the following:
Jail time: From six to nine months
Probation: Up to one year
Community service: Up to 50 hours
IID: Interlock ignition device that requires you to breathe into a breathalyzer before starting your vehicle
Note that the penalties can be worse if your BAC was at least .15 percent or a minor was in the vehicle.
Inconvenient Consequences of Intoxicated Driving
In addition to the criminal penalties, you are likely to face plenty of challenges that can impact the rest of your life.
Having a DUI on your record could potentially prevent you from being able to:
Rent a home
Work with children
Obtain or keep a job
Obtain a passport
Purchase a firearm
Obtain a professional license
Be approved for a student loan.
Along with the stigma of “drunk driver” attached to your name, a DUI places burdens on several areas of your life making it difficult to move past it.
Get Legal Help Right Away
As stated, legal and social consequences of a DUI can do serious damage in your life. DUI attorneys from Gutin and Wolverton are there to help when you need us.
We will get you immediate help in understanding your case and protecting your rights.
It is important to understand the legal consequences and to be aware of the lasting effects that a DUI has on your life. Let experienced attorneys help you through the process.
We can help try to negotiate for a plea bargain or a wet reckless, in which the case of drunk driving can be reduced to reckless driving.
There are many factors to examine in a drunk driving case that only an attorney can help you uncover in court.
Did the officer have a reasonable suspicion to pull you over? Did the officer read you the implied consent form?
Did the officer read you your Miranda rights?
Attorneys can also inspect details of the blood or breath test. There may have been plenty of issues that led to an unlawful arrest.
In conclusion, a DUI in the state of Florida, even a first-time offense, is a serious matter with heavy, long-lasting consequences.
First of all, know your drinking limit. But if you do get arrested for a DUI, get legal help right away to understand what you can expect and you might be able to keep your life and your freedom in order.
For more information on DUI laws and legal consequences of intoxicated driving, give us a call or send an email.