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Charged with a Crime In Addition to a DUI? Contact Our Sarasota Drunk Driving Law Firm Today

While a standard first-time DUI charge is categorized as a “traffic violation” under Florida law, getting arrested for drunk driving can also lead to serious criminal charges. These charges could carry months or years of jail time and other penalties depending on the circumstances involved. If you have been charged with a DUI-related crime, you need experienced legal representation, and we strongly encourage you to contact our Sarasota drunk driving law firm right away.

What are DUI-Related Crimes in Florida?

Florida law establishes several DUI-related crimes. A conviction for any of the following can lead to penalties above and beyond those for a standard first-time DUI:

Second or Subsequent DUI

If you already have one DUI on your record, getting a second DUI will subject you to enhanced penalties. If you are facing charges for a third DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction, you could be prosecuted for a third-degree felony. Potential penalties for a third DUI within 10 years include up to five years of incarceration and five years of probation, a 10-year driver’s license suspension, impoundment, community service, mandatory substance abuse treatment, and thousands of dollars in fines.

A fourth DUI within any amount of time is also a third-degree felony under Florida law. However, the penalties are more serious than those for third-time offenders. If you get convicted of a fourth DUI, you can permanently lose your driver’s license and face mandatory minimum penalties.

DUI with Property Damage

If you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you can be charged with a DUI with property damage under Section 316.193(3)(c). You can face this charge regardless of how little damage you cause, as the law simply states that you must cause “damage to the property . . . of another.” DUI with property damage is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, 12 months of probation, a 12-month driver’s license suspension, fines and other penalties. This assumes your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.15 percent. If your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, you are subject to enhanced penalties.

DUI with Bodily Injury or Serious Bodily Injury

If you cause an accident that results in bodily injury to another person, this is also a first-degree misdemeanor offense. This could involve hitting another vehicle, a scooter or moped, or a bicyclist or pedestrian. If the accident results in “serious bodily injury to another,” you can be charged with a third-degree felony. Potential penalties include mandatory jail time (with a sentence of up to five years), five years of probation and $5,000 in fines, among others.

DUI Manslaughter

If you cause an accident that results in death, you can be charged with DUI manslaughter. This is a second-degree felony in most cases, but it can be prosecuted as a first-degree felony if you fled the scene of the accident.

When prosecuted as a second-degree felony, DUI manslaughter carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 and a half years. This can be reduced to four years in some cases. The maximum prison sentence is 15 years, and you can also face 15 years of probation, $10,000 in fines, permanent driver’s license revocation, and other penalties. When prosecuted as a first-degree felony, DUI manslaughter can potentially carry 30 years behind bars.

Open Container Law Violations

If you have an open container in your vehicle when the police pull you over, you can be charged with an open container law violation under Section 316.1936 of the Florida Statutes. The law states that it is unlawful, “to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage . . . while operating a vehicle in the state or while a passenger . . . .” An open container is considered to be “in the possession of the operator” if:

  • It is not in the possession of a passenger; and,
  • It is not in a locked compartment of the vehicle (i.e., the glove compartment or trunk).

An open container is considered to be “in the possession of a passenger” if the container is in the passenger’s “physical control.” An open container law violation is a noncriminal moving traffic offense that typically carries a $100 fine.

Drug Possession

If you have illegal drugs in your vehicle or on your person when the police stop you for DUI, you could also be charged with drug possession. This is true whether you get charged with an alcohol-related DUI or DUI drugs. Drug possession charges can carry various penalties (including minimum mandatory jail time) depending on the specific drug and quantity involved.

Breach of the Peace and Disorderly Conduct

In some cases, police officers making DUI arrests will include charges for breach of the peace or disorderly conduct. Under Section 877.03 of the Florida Statutes, “Whoever commits such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.”

You Need a Proven Sarasota Drunk Driving Law Firm to Fight Your DUI-Related Crime

Regardless of the specific charges you are facing, if you have been charged with any DUI-related crime, you need a proven Sarasota drunk driving law firm on your side. At Fowler Law Group, our lawyers have decades of combined experience helping clients avoid unnecessary consequences.

When you contact us, our lawyers will thoroughly examine all aspects of your case. We will determine if the police violated your rights, and we will determine what other defenses you have available. We will then use our experience handling DUI-related crime cases to protect you to the fullest extent possible.

Speak with a Lawyer About Your Case in Confidence

Have you been charged with a DUI-related crime in Sarasota? If so, contact us now so that we can start building your defense today. To speak with a lawyer about your case as soon as possible, call 941-404-8909 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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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.