Cases involving driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are complex and can vary greatly when it comes to the specific allegations. It is important to understand the state’s laws pertaining to driving under the influence, including some lesser-known facts about DUI cases. Below, we have listed six facts that our clients are sometimes surprised to learn about DUI charges in Florida.
Contact Musca Law today if you are facing DUI charges anywhere in the state of Florida. We can fully explain the charges against you and help you build a defense that preserves your rights.
1. Florida law states that you have already consented to an alcohol or drug test just by holding a driver’s license.
Florida Statute § 316.1932 states that anyone who drives a vehicle in the state of Florida has given his or her implied consent to alcohol and controlled substance testing. This includes blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests. Under the law, when you obtain a driver’s license, you give the state your implied consent to be tested if you are the subject of a lawful stop for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol on any Florida roadway. Even if you do not have a license, the law states that when you have become the subject of a lawful DUI arrest, you have impliedly consented to alcohol or drug testing.
2. If you refuse an alcohol or drug test, your driver’s license will be suspended.
Also under § 316.1932, your license will be suspended automatically if you refuse an alcohol or drug test during the course of a lawful DUI arrest. The amount of time your license remains suspended will depend on your background. If this is the first time you have refused a drug or alcohol test in Florida, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If your license has been previously suspended because of a refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test and you refuse to submit to a subsequent test, your license will be suspended for 18 months. You can also face misdemeanor charges for the subsequent refusal.
3. You can be legally intoxicated after fewer drinks than you might realize.
The number of alcoholic drinks it takes to reach a blood alcohol content (BAC) of.08 (Florida’s legal limit for alcohol) might surprise you. You might not feel impaired after this number of drinks or act impaired, but you could be arrested for DUI if an officer has reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated, and a test shows your BAC exceeds the legal limit.
The average man in the U.S. weighs slightly under 200 pounds. While everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, at this weight, a man can surpass a BAC of .08 after four drinks (four 12-ounce beers, four 5-ounce glasses of wine, or four 1.5-ounce pours of 80-proof liquor). The average woman in the U.S. weighs 170 pounds. At this weight, a woman can surpass a BAC of .08 after two or three drinks. Typically, a person’s BAC will be lower if more time has passed between drinks.
4. You can be charged with DUI when your car is not in motion.
Simply by the name of the crime “driving under the influence,” it would seem like you need to be driving in order to be charged. However, under Florida law, your car does not have to be in motion or even be running in order for you to be arrested and charged with DUI. The law states that you can be charged if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while you were driving a vehicle or while you were in “actual physical control” of a vehicle.
Throughout DUI proceedings in Florida, lawyers have argued about what it means to be in actual physical control of a vehicle. Generally, the concept relates to your ability to drive the vehicle and the likelihood that you were recently driving the vehicle. Officers, lawyers, and judges will often consider the placement of the keys, the location of the vehicle, and the condition of the vehicle in making determinations about actual physical control and DUI.
If an officer observes you sleeping in the driver’s seat while the car is shut off and the keys are in the ignition, you likely have actual physical control. If, however, an officer observes you asleep in the back seat while the car is shut off and the keys are not in or near the car, you likely do not have actual physical control.
5. A DUI conviction does not always mean jail time.
While jail time is a potential penalty in a Florida DUI case, it is not always mandatory. For a person’s first DUI conviction, Florida judges frequently do not order jail time as part of sentencing. However, subsequent convictions within a certain period of time will result in jail. If a person is convicted on DUI charges with a prior DUI conviction within five years, the mandatory minimum includes 10 days in jail. If a person is convicted on DUI charges with two prior DUI convictions within 10 years, the mandatory minimum includes 30 days in jail. Your defense lawyer will always try to take jail time off the table during, but this becomes more difficult with additional convictions.
6. You can easily avoid DUI charges in Florida.
You can easily avoid DUI charges in Florida by making it a habit to always arrange for a sober ride. When ride-sharing services only take a few taps on your phone, it is easy to make sure you have safe transportation while enjoying alcohol. If you don’t want to use a ride-share or taxi service, make sure you designate a sober driver at the beginning of your outing. This person should not consume any alcohol throughout the entire outing.
If you have been charged with DUI in Florida, the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Musca Law can help. Contact our office today to schedule a free case review by calling (888) 484-5057.