According to statistics, 26% of all vehicle fatalities in Florida during 2018 were the result of impaired drivers. Due to the damaging impact impaired drivers are having statewide, Florida implements some of the most harsh penalties for individuals convicted of this crime.
Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol In Florida Is A Serious Offense
When a person is involved in a car accident while impaired, they face severe consequences. Even DUI arrests that are not related to accidents or property damage can result in extremely serious penalties. The first thing individuals ask themselves after being arrested for a DUI is whether there are any defenses to a DUI charge. In order to determine if there are legal defenses applicable to your case, it is crucial to first understand the specifics of DUI laws in Florida.
Understanding DUI Laws
Drivers in Florida who are stopped on suspicion of DUI are legally able to refuse taking a Breathalyzer in most cases. Unfortunately, offenders who are involved in vehicle accidents that cause serious injuries or death are required to take a blood alcohol test.
Various factors are taken into consideration in determining the legal blood alcohol level in Florida. For most drivers over 21 years of age who are not driving commercial vehicles, the legal blood alcohol content level is 0.08%. What this entails is that any driver who has a BAC over 0.08% can be charged with driving under the influence.
Drivers who are not yet 21 years of age have a much lower blood alcohol content level simply because individuals under 21 are not legally able to drink let alone get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Drivers under 21 years of age have a BAC limit of 0.02%. Commercial vehicle drivers over the age of 21 are required to have a BAC lower than 0.04%.
The Penalties For DUIs in Florida
Drivers arrested for DUI in Florida face various penalties. Each subsequent arrest can bring forth even more severe punishments for offenders. Drivers arrested for their first DUI face penalties, including:
- 6 to 9 months in jail
- Between $500 and $2,000 in files
- 6 to 12 months of license suspension
- Required to use a breath alcohol interlock ignition device
Drivers who are arrested for their second DUI within a five year period face penalties such as:
- 9 to 12 months in jail
- $1,000 to $4,000 in fines
- Up to a five-year driver’s license suspension
- Required to use a breath alcohol interlock ignition device
Drivers arrested for their third DUI face up to one year in jail, up to $5,000 in fines, a ten-year driver’s license suspension, and they are required to use a breath alcohol interlock ignition device.
Furthermore, drivers can face an array of additional charges depending on the unique circumstances of their arrest. Individuals who are arrested for DUIs face secondary consequences for their charges as well, as outlined below.
DUIs often make it more difficult for individuals to find employment. This is especially true for individuals who may be required to drive for a living or operate heavy machinery. Additionally, going without a driver’s license can make it difficult to complete daily tasks and make it to and from work or other commitments. Drivers who are convicted of DUI also face a significant increase in the amount they are required to pay for insurance. Thankfully, there are some legal defenses you can use to protect yourself against a DUI conviction.
DUI Defense Arguments
Drivers arrested for DUI can argue various circumstances surrounding their arrest in the hopes of having the charges dismissed or reduced. Some of the best legal arguments for DUIs include:
The Arresting Officer Violated The Driver’s Constitutional Rights: In cases where an officer violated the U.S. Constitution or the Florida Constitution, the prosecutors are unable to use evidence obtained in direct violation. In some cases, this argument can lead to the reduction of charges or the dismissal of the DUI entirely.
The Police Utilized An Unlawful Road Block: Although Florida law allows for the use of DUI roadblocks, officers are required to maintain written guidelines on how they intend to use the blocks. Because officers are strictly prohibited from stopping every car, the guidelines must specify how they will decide which types of vehicles to stop. An inability to prove guidelines exist can result in a dismissal due to an unlawful seizure.
The Arresting Officer Did Not Have Probable Cause: The arresting officer must have probable cause that a driver is impaired to arrest them for DUI. As long as the driver is over 21, probable cause must be based on more than just a belief that the driver consumed a large amount of alcohol. The officer is required to have reasonably trustworthy information that is sufficient enough to cause a person of reasonable caution to believe that the accused driver is under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it impairs their ability to drive. In cases where the arresting officer did not truly have probable cause to make the arrest, the judge may prohibit the use of all evidence the officer obtained, which can result in the reduction or dismissal of charges.
The Officer Failed To Administer The Field Sobriety Exercises Properly: Finally, offenders can argue that the officer did not properly administer the field sobriety exercises correctly, which caused a false positive to appear. For instance, requiring a driver to walk in a straight line and turn, or to stand on one leg, are tests that require flat ground surfaces. The driver could argue that the ground was damaged or curved which caused them to lose balance. Furthermore, arresting officers are required to explain and model the exercises to the DUI suspect personally before the test begins. Their failure to do so can have a major impact on a conviction.
Should I Hire A DUI Attorney For An Arrest?
Hiring a DUI lawyer may cost money up front, but it is well worth the cost. The expenses of hiring an attorney far outweigh the negative consequences of a DUI conviction. An experienced attorney can make a major impact on having your charges reduced or dismissed. If you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, contact Musca Law at (888) 484-5057 to see how we can help you.