Driving under the influence of alcohol or other chemical and controlled substances can cause serious damage. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 1/3 of all traffic deaths involve a drunk driver - that's 1 out of every 3! From 2003 to 2012, 8,476 people were killed in Florida alone in car accidents involving drunk drivers. It's unsurprising that Florida has some of the strictest DUI laws in the United States-14th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
I Was Arrested for a DUI. What Happens Now?
If you were pulled over with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08%, you were illegally driving under the influence of alcohol. What happens next depends on the severity of your DUI. If you've never been convicted before, you may get nothing more than 50 hours of community service. However, the court may rule that you serve time in prison or attend an alcoholism treatment program instead of prison time. You may also face expensive fines, ranging from $500 to $4,000 depending on your number of previous DUI convictions.
Will I Lose My Job?
If you are caught driving a commercial motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04%, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will take away your license for 1 year. If this isn't your first offense, you will be permanently banned from getting a license, meaning you can never legally operate a commercial vehicle again. If your job requires the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (such as flatbeds, tractor trailers, tankers, passenger buses, and vehicles containing hazardous substances), you will no longer be able to fulfill the parameters of your job and will likely be fired. The same situation will apply if your non-commercial (Class E) license is taken away. A taxi driver, for example, can no longer work if he or she is unlicensed. Even if your license is not taken away, insurance companies are less likely to insure customers with DUI and your employer will not allow an uninsured driver to work.
You are also at risk of losing your job even if you aren't a professional driver. If you are convicted of a DUI, and your employment contract states that your employer can fire you for being convicted of a crime, you may be out of a job. Some professional licenses could also be compromised by an arrest. If you are a doctor, a DUI will bring you in front of the Medical Board, which will determine whether or not you keep your medical license. Without a license, you will no longer be able to practice medicine.
Lastly, if you drive to and from work, losing your job could be as simple as having no means of transportation once your license is suspended or your car is impounded. If you don't have easy access to public transportation, or your job is significantly isolated, you will be unable to easily get to and from work. An employer may be unwilling to keep an employee who has unreliable transportation, particularly if it causes consistent lateness.
If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, ensure you are fully informed of your circumstances, the wording of your employment contract, and the laws of your state. Contact one of our Florida criminal defense attorneys for a free case review if you're still unsure about the dangers a DUI poses to your employment situation.