Florida DUI Charges with BAC Over .15
Musca Law understands that DUI charges in Florida are always stressful, and the worry our clients face can be compounded when their BAC at the time of arrest was over .15. Our lawyers have extensive experience defending against DUI charges in Florida, including charges arising from BAC test results well above the legal limit of .08. Contact our office today if you have been charged with DUI anywhere in Florida. We recognize the effects these charges and a conviction can have on individuals and families, and we fight to protect our clients’ liberties.
BAC Testing in Florida
Under Florida Statute § 316.1932, all persons who drive on Florida roadways have given their implied consent to drug and alcohol testing as part of a lawful arrest for driving under the influence in the state. A law enforcement officer must request the test during a lawful arrest, and the test must be conducted using state-approved methods. The test can be administered using a breathalyzer, a blood sample, or a urine sample.
When you have been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you might think it is in your best interest to refuse a BAC test. It might seem like it’s beneficial to avoid potential evidence against you, but refusal can bring about additional legal consequences. Florida law states that if you refuse a BAC test during a lawful DUI arrest, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year. If you have had your driver’s license previously suspended because of a testing refusal, any subsequent testing refusal will result in suspension of your license for 18 months, along with potential misdemeanor charges.
In many cases, law enforcement officers will initially request to administer a breath test if they believe a driver is under the influence of alcohol. These tests can often produce inaccurate and unreliable results. Your defense attorney should examine the details of the test and the records kept on the particular device used. Issues with a breath test or the instrument used can invalidate the results.
Florida Penalties for BAC Over .15
When a DUI conviction involves a BAC over .15, the penalties can be more serious. In a DUI case where a person’s BAC was .08 or higher (measured per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath), the penalties for a conviction can include:
- Up to six months in prison and a fine between $500 and $1,000 for a first conviction;
- Up to nine months in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 for a second conviction, along with placement of an ignition interlock device (IID) on the person’s car for at least one year;
- Up to one year in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 for a third conviction within 10 years of a prior conviction, along with placement of an IID on the person’s car for at least two years; and
- Up to five years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 for a fourth conviction (regardless of when it occurs).
By contrast, in a case where a person’s BAC was .15 or higher, the penalties for a conviction can include:
- Up to nine months in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 for a first conviction, along with placement of an IID on the person’s car for at least six months;
- Up to one year in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $4,000 for a second conviction, along with placement of an IID on the person’s car for at least two years; and
- Up to one year in prison and a fine not less than $4,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
Because enhanced penalties are on the line, you and your attorney will want to look into all available defenses to eliminate or reduce the charges against you.
Defending a Florida DUI Case with a BAC Over .15
In a Florida DUI case involving a BAC over .15, some potential defenses you might raise include:
- Stipulation to lower BAC – During the course of the proceedings, your defense lawyer might negotiate a stipulation from the state that your BAC was lower than .15. This is the threshold for enhanced penalties, so it will help your case if a stipulation is possible. The judge will sign the stipulation order, and a copy will be delivered to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Refuting accuracy of the test – You will want to refute the accuracy of the blood or breath test of you believe the testing device was not working properly or not properly maintained, the blood sample was not properly obtained, the blood sample was somehow contaminated, or the chain of custody as to the sample was compromised.
- Lack of cause to request the test – If the officer involved in your case did not have cause to believe you were driving under the influence, the test should not have been requested or administered and should be excluded from evidence.
- No actual physical control – If your case involves actual physical control, rather than clear driving, you can take the opportunity to argue that you were not in control of the vehicle at the time of your arrest. Perhaps you parked to get some sleep and had no access to the vehicle’s key when the officer approached you.
- Insufficient evidence – Aside from case-specific defenses, you will also likely argue that the state has not met its burden of proof. It is the state’s responsibility to establish each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and you should not be convicted in the absence of such proof.
The defenses available in your case will depend on the facts involved, the situations involved, and your criminal history.
Contact Musca Law to Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Florida DUI Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI and had a BAC test result over .15, contact Musca Law today. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Florida DUI attorneys when you call (888) 484-5057.