Driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Florida has the potential to complicate a person’s life severely. However, for a college student who has an out-of-state driver’s license, a DUI charge could severely impede the student’s ability to continue with his or her education and might even lead to disciplinary actions by the school. Moreover, when a student who is about to enter the workforce picks up a DUI charge, their future is called into question.
A conviction for a DUI in Florida is expensive. Even for a simple DUI misdemeanor charge, the college student, who most likely has little money, faces paying large fines, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, tuition for driver’s education courses, and fees associated with installing and maintaining a device that locks the ignition. Additionally, car insurance companies will increase the price of coverage after a DUI conviction.
Additional expenses are not the sole cause of concern for a college student who is charged with DUI in Florida. A college student facing DUI charges in Florida faces the possibility of losing out on job prospects after graduation, internship posts or being admitted into graduate school, at least initially. Therefore, a DUI conviction in Florida while a person is a college student in the state carries with it severe consequences.
The majority of college students have not reached the legal drinking age. Any person caught driving while under the influence when younger than 21 years-of-age in Florida, even if attending college in the state, faces the license suspension penalties outlined in Florida Statutes §322.2616, as well as the potential criminal penalties established by Florida Statutes §316.193. Any person younger than 21 who is arrested for DUI and provides a blood-alcohol level or a breath-alcohol level greater than 0.02 could have their license suspended for six months for a first offense. The longest period of suspension is one year for a subsequent offense. However, a person who is under 21 and is arrested but does not take a chemical test faces one year of license revocation for the first refusal and up to eighteen months for a subsequent refusal. Many college students who live in other parts of the country do not realize that driving in Florida, even with an out-of-state license, means that the student gives his or her “implied consent” to provide a sample for a chemical test after a DUI arrest.
The college student who is younger than 21 faces the same criminal penalties as a person 21 or older, and the underage college student is protected by all of the same rights that a person who attained the legal age enjoys at trial. Those rights include the presumption of innocence, the right to confront one’s accusers, the right to a trial by jury, the right to compulsory process, and the right not to incriminate oneself. The state, i.e., the prosecution, has to prove that the driver was operating or in physical possession of a vehicle and was either impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both to the extent that the person’s normal faculties were impaired, or that the arrestee’s blood- or breath-alcohol level was 0.08 or greater.
A first offense DUI charge in Florida is a misdemeanor unless someone is injured or killed in a crash caused by the driver who was under the influence, then felony charges will issue. The potential jail sentence for a first-offense DUI conviction in Florida is six months in jail. The court will impose a fine not to exceed $1,000.00, order an ignition interlocking device, and order the offender to complete one year of probation. As part of the probationary period, the offender must complete 50 hours of community service, attend drivers’ education classes, meet with a probation officer, and satisfy additional probationary requirements imposed by the sentencing judge.
College students should recognize that aggravating factors increase the maximum potential jail sentence. Having a person in the vehicle while driving under the influence, providing a chemical sample which yields a result of 0.15% or greater increases the maximum jail time to nine months and the maximum fine to $2,000.00 Additionally, the college student who causes a car crash while intoxicated that results in property damage faces a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida is a one-year jail term.
The length of possible incarcerated sentences for DUI convictions increases as the severity of the DUI incident increases. A college student, even one with no prior criminal history, could face a felony charge for driving under the influence of liquor with an accident, which leads to serious personal injury. The person injured could be in the student’s car or another car, that does not matter. If that happens, the college student could face a third-degree felony charge. The maximum penalty in Florida for a third-degree felony in Florida is five years commitment to the state prison and a $5,000.00 fine.
The most serious DUI charge is DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony. A conviction for DUI manslaughter carries a fifteen-year maximum prison sentence and a $10,000.00 fine. However, DUI manslaughter carries a four-year minimum-mandatory sentence. The prosecution might seek these charges even if the person killed was a passenger in the student’s vehicle.
College students should be wary of social media posts. By now, most people realize that social media posts, even if deleted shortly after the content is posted, leave a digital footprint. Thus, police and prosecutors could use their investigatory powers to comb through social media to find photographs of drinking or drug use against the college student.
Musca Law: Protecting the Future
Defending a college student’s DUI case is challenging and should not be left to a lawyer who lacks the experience, resources, and skills to nullify the charges and reduce the present and future negative consequences a college student might suffer from a DUI conviction. An aggressive advocate would provide the college student with a strong defense that challenges the government’s evidence to convince a judge to dismiss the charges or persuade a jury that the government failed to meet its burden of proof. Additionally, a Florida college student will need help appealing license suspensions and would need help defending against disciplinary action instituted by the school.
Musca Law’s history of aggressively representing college students charged with DUI in Florida gives you the advantage you need to protect your rights, or your child’s rights, to a healthy and prosperous future. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to talk with a college student DUI defense lawyer.