DUI/DWI

Driving Under The Influence (DUI)/Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

An arrest for Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense, and a driver can be charged with a DUI offense if his or her blood alcohol level tests at .08% or higher. The state of Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws in the United States.

DUI Punishments In Florida:
In Florida, anyone who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance must pay a fine and could face time behind bars.

First Time Offenders for DUI/DWI:

  • Must pay a minimum fine of $250
  • Can serve up to six months in prison
  • Suspension of driver’s license for a minimum of six months
  • At least 50 hours of community service
  • Ten day impoundment of vehicle
  • Up to one year probation
  • A permanent misdemeanor conviction
  • Increase of auto insurance by up to three times

Repeat Offenders for DUI/DWI:

  • Must serve a mandatory prison term of up to nine months
  • Must pay a fine of up to $1000
  • Can get their vehicle impounded for up to 30 days
  • Can get their License suspended for a minimum of 5 years.

DUI Testing:

There are three types of tests a police officer may ask a suspect to take in order to test for alcohol in the bloodstream:

  1. A breath test
  2. A blood test
  3. A urine test

A police officer can also ask a driver to take field sobriety tests. These include:

  1. The portable breath test.
  2. A number of exercises intended to test one’s agility, mobility, and alertness. Examples of this are the one leg stand test, the eye test, and the walk-and-turn test.

Most people don’t know that they are not legally obligated to take any DUI test while out in the field. In this instance, police may escort the driver to a police station where he or she must then undergo DUI testing. A test that results in a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol level, evidence of impairment of one’s normal faculties, or a complete refusal to take the test can lead to a DUI charge and the suspension of one’s driver’s license.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you have only ten days to file a written demand for an administrative hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Failure to do so could also result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

It is important that you hire a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in successfully winning DUI cases and knows how the court system works.

A good criminal defense attorney can help determine whether police followed proper procedures when they asked you to take a DUI test. A criminal defense lawyer can also argue the validity of your test results and determine whether any of your constitutional rights were violated during your DUI arrest. They may even be able to get your DUI charges dismissed against you. If you are convicted of a DUI, your lawyer can file an appeal on your behalf.

Defending DUI Cases

Impairment From Substances Other Than Alcohlic Beverages

Drunk driving statutes evolved from two basic theories of impairment: one can either be impaired from the consumption of alcohol or impaired from psychotropic substances which induce a state of impairment. Historically, most states develop drunk driving laws either as driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. Florida statute 318, which covers the impairment requirements for conviction of driving under the influence states that impairment may arise from the consumption of alcohol or alcohol in conjunction with psychotropic meds. Alcohol content can be measured through a breath or blood exemplar. Impairment can also arise from the use of sedatives and/or mood altering drugs and pain medications, which cannot be measured easily. Cases are often won and lost from the traffic stop statements made by arrestees. It is therefore important to remember if you make a statement it will be used against you. Any statement that you made concerning your admission becomes relevant in court for proof of impairment.

Alcohol Impairment From Non–Alcoholic Sources

Most Florida criminal defense attorneys always ask their clients if they consumed products containing alcohol that were not recreational alcoholic beverages. For example, mouthwash contains 26.9% alcohol, cold remedies contain over 25% alcohol cough syrups also contain alcohol. Alcohol appears in the breath exemplars of diabetics. Alcohol can be created from gum infections. Some people naturally create alcohol, which they exhail through their lungs. If you are arrested in Florida and charged with driving under the influence remember to tell your attorney if you consumed any of those above listed products or suffer from diabetes. Being arrested in Florida and charged with a crime involving driving while impaired can be defended. If you are aware that the impairment values of blood and alcohol content of your breath do not necessarily prove you were drunk.

Implied Consent In Florida Criminal DUI Prosecutions

When you obtain a drivers license from Florida your license is issued by the Department of motor vehicle traffic and highway safety. The application for a drivers license is in effect a contract between you and the state of Florida. In the contract, you agree to submit to a breath test if you are stopped by a Florida police officer who begins a DUI investigation. Your refusal to submit a breath exemplar is a violation of your agreement with the Florida Department of traffic and highway safety. Under that agreement in Florida, if you are arrested  your refusal to give a breath sample results in a 90 day suspension of your driving privileges. You still may be arrested and charged with a crime in Florida, but as a separate proceeding and has different consequences. Implied consent simply means you agree if stopped to provide a breath exemplar or you will find yourself facing consequences. Florida criminal statutes make a refusal, after your first refusal, a misdemeanor. If you are arrested in Florida and charged with the crime of driving under the influence, and you refuse to provide a breath sample. The first time it’s not a misdemeanor. In Florida, refusal after your second is a misdemeanor possible by up to one year in a Florida jail.

Basis Of The Stop: Probable Cause And Reasonable Suspicion

Search and seizure law always applies when analyzing a traffic stop. The fourth amendment to the federal Constitution governs detentions and the fourth amendment analysis is always applicable to traffic stops which resolved into DUI investigations. For a police officer to make a traffic stop he needs a reason. To elevate a traffic stop into a detention and a DUI investigation you must be able to satisfy the articulable suspicion of the totality of the circumstances test that applies to all arrests. A traffic stop in Florida cannot delay within 15 minutes or it becomes a detention. For stop to resolve into a detention the officer must have articulable suspicion. At a motion to suppress your Florida criminal defense attorney will argue that the original traffic stop, even if lawful, became an unlawful detention at the point the officer began a DUI investigation. For that reason alone it is important to remember that when an officer asks you if you’ve been drinking and you say yes you have by your own admission bootstrapped a traffic stop into a criminal investigation. If you do not provide the basis for the detention a motion to suppress may be brought forward by your Florida criminal defense attorney. A motion to suppress and Florida criminal courts which is successful results in a dismissal of the charges.