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Your Sarasota DUI Attorneys

Florida DUI Laws

If you are convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, the penalties can be severe and expensive. Under Florida law, a DUI offense occurs when a driver operates or is found in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired or with a breath/ blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher

Administrative Driver’s License Suspension

When you are arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, your driver’s license may be suspended. If this is your first DUI offense and your blood alcohol level was measured at .08 percent or higher, your license will be suspended for six months. In the event that you refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for one year.

If this is not your first refusal of a lawful blood, breath or urine test, the penalties will be more severe. For those who refused a prior lawful breath, blood or urine test, your license will be suspended for 18 months, and an additional misdemeanor charge of “refusal” will be brought against you.

Florida 10 Day Rule

It is possible to preserve your driver’s license but you must act quickly! Under Florida law, you have the option to challenge your license suspension by requesting an administrative review hearing. Alternatively, if you have not been previously convicted of a DUI, you have the option to waive your right to the review hearing and request the immediate issuance of a Business Purpose Only (BPO) license. If you are issued a BPO license you will only be permitted to drive in order to maintain your livelihood (this would include driving for work, educational, church or medical reasons).

Regardless of which option you choose, you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to take action. There are certain procedures that must be followed no matter which option you decide is best for you. The legal team at Fowler Law Group has the experience to guide you through this process. Our experienced Sarasota DUI attorneys will carefully review your situation and advise you on all options that may be available to you.

Underage Drinking

Florida takes underage drunk driving extremely seriously, as — if left unchecked — it can expose the public to a substantial risk of harm. Though it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to consume any amount of alcohol in Florida, prosecutors must still be able to prove that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

In order to make it easier for prosecutors to do so, the state has established a blood alcohol limit of just 0.02 or higher. As such, if you are under the age of 21 and have only consumed a single drink, it’s very likely that you will test as “intoxicated,” leading to significant penalties that include a minimum six-month license suspension (for first-time offenders) and possible vehicle impoundment, community service, fines, and even a stint in jail.

Out-of-State DUI

If you are convicted of a DUI out-of-state, then the penalties imposed by the out-of-state court will follow you back home to Florida. State transport authorities share information relating to traffic violations, including DUI violations.

For example, if you have been convicted of a DUI in Georgia and have had your license suspended for a year as a result, then you cannot move back to Florida and operate your vehicle — the suspension will apply in Florida, too.

Further, any DUI violations in another state will count towards your “repeat offense” total in Florida.

Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenses

Penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida become increasingly severe with each conviction.

First Conviction

Fines between $500 and $2,000 (depending on blood alcohol content level). Mandatory 50 hours of community service (though this may be bought out to avoid), 10 days jail time, and vehicle impoundment.

Second Conviction

Fines between $2,000 and $4,000 (depending on blood alcohol content level), minimum jail sentence of 10 days (maximum of nine months), potential five year license suspension, mandatory yearlong ignition interlock device, vehicle impoundment for at least a month.

Third Conviction

Fines between $2,000 and $5,000 (depending on blood alcohol content level), tried as a felony, mandatory minimum of a month in jail, 10 year license revocation, community service, mandatory two-year ignition interlock device usage, vehicle impoundment for at least three months.

Fourth and Subsequent Convictions

Fines between $2,000 and $5,000, up to five years imprisonment, up to five years of probation, between 10 years and permanent revocation of one’s license, mandatory two-year ignition interlock device usage, mandatory substance abuse course, mandatory substance abuse treatment, vehicle impoundment for at least three months.

If you do have your license revoked or suspended, it’s worth noting that restricted, hardship licenses may be available under certain circumstances.

Field Sobriety Tests and Questionable Results

In Florida, and elsewhere, field sobriety tests (i.e., touching your nose and balancing on one leg, walking in a straight line, etc.) are quite regularly administered by law enforcement officers when attempting to test for driver intoxication.  Field sobriety test results are not always accurate, however, and may be interpreted wrongly in many cases.  It is also common for law enforcement officers to incorrectly administer the test, leading to botched results.

For example, suppose that you are stopped at a police checkpoint on the way back from a restaurant outing with friends.  One of the police officers suspects that you are intoxicated and asks you to get out of your vehicle and walk in a straight line.  You are unable to do so, and the officer arrests you for a DUI violation.  Later on, if you are charged with a DUI, you could argue that the test results were inaccurate due to the fact that you suffer from a spinal condition that affects your balance, thus making a mess of the test results.

Drug-Related DUIs

In Florida, driving under the influence is a criminal offense that is not limited to alcohol-related intoxication.  The fact that the law creates an easy-to-understand, objective standard for determining alcohol-related intoxication (at a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher) often gives people the impression that the imposition of criminal liability in a DUI case is limited to alcohol-related intoxication — in truth, however, a defendant may be convicted of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.  The penalties are the same in either scenario.

It’s worth noting that you can be held liable for a drug DUI even if you are not using prohibited illicit substances, such as marijuana or cocaine.  In Florida, if your normal faculties are impaired due to having taken a controlled substance (or certain harmful chemicals, such as nitrous oxide), then you may be convicted of a drug DUI.  Controlled substances includes prescription medication and other legal drugs.

Prosecutors cannot hold you liable if you were not “impaired.”  Whether you were impaired will depend on test results and other evidence that demonstrates that your ability to safely operate the vehicle at-issue was diminished in some material aspect.

Impairment must be sufficiently significant as to raise concerns about safe operation.  For example, taking allergy medication may have a slight impact on your ability to react quickly to stimuli in the environment, but is unlikely to be considered significant enough to qualify for a drug DUI.

DUI Fines, Penalties and Imprisonment

If you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, the penalties and fines can be harsh. If this is your first conviction the fine will generally range from $500 to $1,000. In the event that your blood alcohol level is measured at .15% or higher, or a minor was in your vehicle, the fine will increase to $1,000-$2,000. The fine ranges for repeat offenders are higher and depend upon the number of earlier DUI convictions. Additionally, DUI fines and other penalties may be increased substantially if you are in an accident involving property damage, injury or death of another person while you are driving under the influence.

In addition to fines, if you are convicted of a DUI you may be subject to other penalties, including imprisonment. First time offenders can be sentenced to jail for a period of six to nine months depending upon their blood alcohol levels. Incarceration periods increase for repeat offenders and if the DUI driver is involved in an accident that causes property damage or injuries to another person.

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Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.


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