Florida Driving Under the Influence Frequently Asked Questions
Can a DUI Lawyer Challenge Breathalyzer Results?
If you are arrested for a DUI offense, Florida’s implied consent law requires that you submit to a chemical test to measure your blood alcohol content. If you refuse to take the test, you can be subject to penalties, including the loss of your driving privileges for at least a year.
Many people believe that if you blow a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, you are doomed to suffer the criminal consequences. However, a lawyer who has extensive experience handling DUI cases might be able to challenge your test results in court. If for any reason the court agrees that your breathalyzer test results are inadmissible, the State may agree to dismiss your DUI charges. So, how can a lawyer discredit your breath test results?
Oftentimes, breathalyzer results are a crucial piece of evidence for the State in DUI cases. Whether your lawyer can successfully challenge the test results will depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. However, some of the ways in which an experienced DUI Lawyer can discredit breathalyzer evidence include:
- The Breathalyzer Was Not Calibrated Properly
Law enforcement officers are required to calibrate breathalyzers so that they can measure your blood alcohol concentration accurately. The State must provide testimony from an officer that the breathalyzer was actually calibrated properly at the time of your arrest. If this testimony cannot be provided in court, then your attorney may be able to challenge your test results successfully.
- The Breathalyzer Is Not Reliable
It is possible that the breath sample you provided was contaminated by the presence of some foreign substance in your mouth such as chewing tobacco or mouthwash. Substances such as these can produce false positives due to the amount of mouth alcohol from these substances. Depending on the facts of your case, your lawyer may be able to challenge the accuracy of your test results.
- Your Breathalyzer Test Was Not Administered Properly
There are certain procedures that an officer must follow when administering a breathalyzer test. If the test was not conducted correctly, then the results may be inadmissible in court.
- The Breathalyzer Test Was Due to an Unlawful Search
Your breathalyzer test might not hold up in court if the law enforcement officer administering the test did not have probable cause to do so in the first place. When you are arrested for DUI, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to believe you were driving drunk. If the officer did not have either reasonable suspicion to stop or probable cause to arrest you, then it is possible to have your breathalyzer results thrown out.
How a Common an Issue is Drunk Driving?
DUI Statistics in the United States
Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher is illegal in every state. However, it is no secret that some people continue to choose to drink alcohol, sometimes to excess, and get behind the wheel. This is a recipe for disaster as alcohol-impaired driving has the potential to cause devastating and even fatal accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study finding that more than ten thousand people died in accidents that year where a driver was impaired by alcohol. This averaged out to approximately thirty deaths every day in the United States, or one death every fifty-two minutes, due to accidents involving a drunk or alcohol-impaired driver. These drunk driving fatalities made up thirty-one percent of the total number of vehicle accident deaths in the United States.
The NHTSA study also concluded that those who have the highest risk of being involved in drunk driving accidents are the young and inexperienced drivers. At any blood alcohol concentration, young people are at greater risk of being involved in a drunk driving crash than other drivers. Those drivers who had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater, and who were involved in accidents where a death occurred, about one in three drivers were between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-four. The study found that other drivers who are at a greater risk for being involved in fatal accidents include motorcyclists, and drivers that have previous DUI convictions. In fact, those drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more and who were involved in accidents causing death were approximately six times more likely to have a previous alcohol-impaired driving conviction than drivers with no alcohol in their system.
DUI Statistics in the Sunshine State
According to a NHTSA study, Florida had more than 670 fatalities resulting from DUI accidents - of all the states, Florida ranked third highest in the amount of deaths resulting from drunk driving accidents. Of the total traffic fatalities in Florida, twenty-eight percent of those deaths were related to alcohol-impaired driving. This percentage was just below the national average for that year at thirty-one percent.
Florida law penalizes those who are convicted of DUI with fines, jail time, and license suspensions. While these laws may help curb the amount of drunk driving deaths, there are also steps that you can take so that you don’t become another drunk driving statistic. Although you can’t control the actions of other drivers who might decide to drive drunk, make sure that you or a loved one doesn’t cause a serious or fatal accident by getting behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol.
A DUI conviction has serious consequences that can include hefty fines, imprisonment, and license suspensions. While the consequences may immediately affect only you, if your conviction resulted from an accident that caused serious injuries or death, your actions can also have devastating consequences for the others involved in that accident. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, it is important that you speak with a seasoned and experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Will I Be Required to Have an Ignition Interlock System Placed in My Car in Florida?
Under Florida law, if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, you might be penalized by fines, imprisonment, and license suspension. However, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. An ignition interlock device is similar to a breathalyzer on your vehicle that requires you to blow into a mouthpiece before your vehicle will start. If you blow a result that is greater than the blood alcohol concentration allowed, which typically is a BAC above 0.025 percent, the engine of the car will not start. The basic requirements for the device are that it must use fuel cell technology to test your breath sample, it must be able to conduct random retests of a your breath while the vehicle is running, the data must be collected and reported via the Internet, allowing for access to that data 24/7, and the device must be able to record and store visual evidence of your use of the device. The purpose of the ignition interlock device is to deter drivers from driving while impaired by alcohol.
In Florida, the ignition interlock program applies to certain people arrested and convicted of driving under the influence after July 1, 2002, particularly if they are eligible to have their driving privileges restored or reinstated. Florida law also mandates the installation of a device if the offender applies for and is eligible for a business or work restricted driver’s license. Some offenders are otherwise eligible for the interlock device program and can drive with what is called a “P” restriction on their driver’s license The P restriction indicates that the device is required. Upon conviction of DUI, the court will typically report the interlock device requirement to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which administers the program. Even if the court does not order the installation of an interlock device on your vehicle, the department also has the authority to require that one be installed on your vehicle.
Florida law mandates that an ignition interlock device be installed, at an offender’s own expense, on vehicles in the following cases:
- A first DUI conviction only requires a device if the court orders one;
- A first DUI conviction if the conviction was a result of a BAC of 0.15 or higher requires that a device be installed for at least six months;
- A first DUI conviction and if you had a minor in your car at the time of arrest, you can be required to install a device for at least six months;
- A second DUI conviction requires a device for at least one year;
- A second DUI conviction if the conviction was the result of a BAC of 0.15 or higher requires that a device be installed for at least two years;
- A second DUI conviction and if you had a minor in your car at the time of arrest, you can be required to install a device for at least two years;
- A third DUI conviction requires a device for at least two years;
- A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction requires a device for at least five years (this is a condition for a hardship license, if eligible).
As is evident from the above information, any driving under the influence charge should not be taken lightly. Depending on the facts in your case, not only can you be subject to fines, jail time, and license suspension, you may be required to pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, it is important that you consult with an experienced DUI attorney right away. An attorney that knows the complexities of the DUI legal and administrative processes, and who understands the interlock device laws can advise you of your rights and responsibilities under the law, and help you determine your best legal options and chances for a successful outcome in your case.