In Florida, being stopped for driving under the influence (DUI) can be a very frightening experience. People never expect to be stopped for DUI, which leaves them unprepared and confused. Knowing the DUI process and how it works can alleviate some of that confusion. This knowledge may also prevent you from making costly mistakes that may lead to a DUI conviction.
According to Florida law, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence if:
- The state can prove the accused was driving while their faculties were impaired
- The state can prove that the accused was operating a motor vehicle with a Blood or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
DUI Stop and Arrest
Generally, law enforcement will notice certain suspicious driving behaviors before they make a DUI traffic stop. These behaviors may or may not indicate that a driver is operating under the influence. An officer may be suspicious if he/she notices a person: swerving, disobeying traffic signs, going into the wrong lanes, speeding, driving too slow, or weaving. If an officer notices that a driver is exhibiting these behaviors, the officer will most likely make a DUI traffic stop.
Once a person is stopped for suspected DUI, the officer will perform a series of field sobriety tests to examine the person for signs of impairment such as:
- Flushed cheeks
- Slurred speech
- Incoherent speech
- Blood shot eyes
- Inability to follow directions
- Evidence of open containers
If these behaviors are evident, the officer may request that the person take an Intoxilyzer (breath), Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), or urine test.These tests are considered voluntary. If a person refuses to take the breath, blood, or urine test, and he/she is convicted of DUI, he/she may be subject to harsher legal consequences. In some cases, failure to take a BAC test can be perceived as an admission of guilt, but in other situations a refusal to submit to a breath test may help you on the criminal side because the state attorney does not have evidence to explain to the jury.
At some time during the arrest process for DUI, he/she should be read Miranda Rights by the arresting officer. Failure to read Miranda Rights can result in the dismissal or suppression of comments or confessions made by the accused. There are many carved out exceptions for Miranda in DUI cases so call our office to discuss the actual facts of your case.
Florida DUI Penalties
If you are convicted of DUI in Florida, you will face a variety of life impairing consequences. A DUI conviction should not be taken lightly, as it will impact many areas of your life. Florida law does not allow for someone to expunge or seal a DUI conviction. Once you are convicted of DUI, your criminal record will be damaged. A damaged criminal record can lead to limited employment, housing, and education opportunities. Aside from having a criminal record, convicted Florida DUI offenders are typically given the following sentences:
First DUI Offense*
License Suspension: 6 months – 1 year
Imprisonment:; 0 – 6 months
Vehicle Impoundment:At least 10 days
Probation: Typically 1 year
Second DUI Offense
Fine: $1000 – $1,500
License Suspension: 5 years(if within 5 years of the prior)
Imprisonment:10 days – 9 months
Vehicle Impoundment: Approximately 30 days
Probation: 1 year
Ignition Device: Approximately 1 year-depending on the breath test result
Third DUI Offense
Fine: $2,000 – $5,000
License Suspension: Approximately 1 year(but could be 10 yrs depending on priors)
Imprisonment: 30 days – 5 years
Vehicle Impoundment: Approximately 90 days
Probation: up to 5 years
Ignition Device: Approximately 2 years
Sarasota, Pinellas, Charlotte, Manatee, Tampa, Polk, Orange County Florida DUI Attorneys
If you have been charged with DUI, one of the best things you can do is seek the counsel of a qualified DUI attorney. At the Law Offices of Finebloom Haenel, P.A., we have represented numerous clients charged with DUI in Florida. Our skilled DUI lawyers will get involved from the very beginning to ensure that your rights are not violated. We will guide you through the legal process, represent you in and out of court, and do everything possible to keep your license and make this complicated time much easier for you.
*If the breath test is above a .15 or there is an underage person in the vehicle then the penalties are more severe. This will include manadatory installation of the igntion interlock device in your vehicle.