The DUI qualifier for the state of Florida is a.08% BAC on a breathalyzer or a chemical test for a suspected DUI offender. Once an arrest has been made, the offender will have an automatic license suspension of six months for the first offense of a DUI charge. A suspected DUI offender found to have .08 or greater on a breathalyzer will immediately receive a notice of suspension on his license processed by the law enforcement officer initiating the arrest.
The offender is given a license receipt which makes him eligible for a driving extension of up to 10 days after a DUI charge is filed. Upon expiration of the permit, a grace period of 30 days must pass before a person charged with DUI can be eligible for application for hardship licensure. First time offenders are given hardship licenses with no prejudice; provided they provide evidentiary support that they are enrolled in a driving under the influence school addressed to the Administrative Reviews Office. Once an offender is provided with a hardship license, they must take a requisite examination, pay administrative fees and any licensing cost to your determent.
Refusal to take a breathalyzer or a chemical test has stringent consequences under Florida law. If you refuse a federal officer upon his request for your cooperation to undergo a breath or urine test, your license will be suspended initiating from the arrest date for a period of one year. If you refuse more than once, you will not be eligible for a hardship license.
First time offenders will be ordered a one year revocation of driving licenses effective upon the date of conviction. Florida law requires an installation of ignition interlock devices for defendants who are convicted of a DUI, who may be eligible for a permanent or restricted driver’s license. The purchase and installation of these devices, as well as insurance charges are all shouldered by the defendant.
All convicted DUI accounts will be required to pay fees in the amount of no less than $200 but not greater than$1000. At the Judge’s discretion, sentencing terms can be served in an in-patient residential alcohol treatment facility which is credited towards the prison term. An alcohol and drug abuse treatment program will also count for jail sentence. First time offenders will have a non-minimum sentencing order of no more than six months.
Florida DUI Penalties
Florida DUI defendants arrested on charges of driving under the influence will also automatically have their license suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to file an objection and request a hearing on the matter. An experienced Tampa DUI lawyer has the skills and the knowledge to defend the suspension of your license and to ensure you maintain your driving privileges.
The penalties for a DUI case in Orlando and elsewhere in Florida are serious and the laws are strictly enforced as reflected by Florida having the third-highest number of DUI arrests in the country. Given the prevalence of DUI arrests in Florida, it is critical to understand the penalties associated with a DUI conviction. An Orlando DUI attorney who routinely handles DUI cases in Orlando and throughout Florida has provided an overview of DUI punishment for first and second-time offenders.
The penalties rise with each subsequent offense. There are actually two tiers of punishment under Florida DUI law. The lower tier applies in cases where the blood alcohol level of the offender is over 0.8. The higher tier applies where one’s blood alcohol level exceeds 2.0 or a minor child was in the vehicle at the time of the DUI.
What happens to First Time DUI in Florida?
The criminal status of a first offense DUI Florida depends on the specifics of the case. A driver who damages property can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for example. A first-time DUI in the lower tier also can result in a maximum jail sentence of six months. The fine for a first-time offender in tier one is $250-500. The offender’s driver’s license can also be suspended for a minimum of 180 days to one year. If the offender is convicted, his vehicle will also be impounded for 10 days unless it is the only transportation for the offender’s family. The court will also require 12 hours of DUI School and 50 hours of community service.
If the offender meets the criteria for the higher tier (i.e. blood alcohol over 2.0 or a minor child in the vehicle), the maximum sentence for a first-time offense increases to 9 months. The penalty also increases to $500-1000.
Second DUI in Florida
Criminal status for a 2nd offense DUI Florida is similar to that for a first offense except that if the DUI causes serious bodily injury to another it may result in a third-degree felony. First or second-degree felonies can be charged if the offender commits DUI manslaughter which results in the death of another person. For a second offense, the maximum imprisonment increases to 9 months. The fine also increases to $500-1000. The fine increases to $1000-2000 if the higher tier criteria are met. If the violation occurred within 5 years of the first offense, the offender’s car will be impounded for 30 days. The offender’s license will be suspended for 180 days to 1 year. The offender’s license will also be revoked for a minimum of five years if the second offense is committed within 5 years of the first offense. The offender must also complete 21 hours of DUI school and complete a year of probation.
Felony DUI Florida
Not all DUI offenses are treated the same, as well as some DUI offenses in Florida are classified as felonies. A felony is defined as any offense for which the max sentence is more than 365 days in county jail. As a result of the markedly harsher penalties they carry and the considerable negative impacts they can have on a person’s life, felonies are far more severe than misdemeanors. However, in order for a DUI in Florida to be charged as a felony, the offense must have:
- resulted in the death of another, DUI Manslaughter or
- resulted in serious bodily injury to another, DUI with serious bodily injury or
- been a third or more DUI.
Get Florida DUI Help: Repeat Offenses for DUI Arrests
Since the State of Florida practices a look-back policy, previous arrests and conviction of DUI related charges from your parent or Florida neighboring states are taken into consideration when measuring the degree and kind of DUI charge filed on your account. In Florida, the interlude of instance in which a judge can evaluate an offender’s documentation (the “look-back” period) is your entire natural life. If you have had a DUI conviction from decades ago, even in another state this will hinder you from receiving First Offender status, thus exposing you to advanced penalties and criminal sentencing.
Florida studies previous conviction and arrest records with DUI, this means that you can expect severe penalties and more jail time if you are repeatedly convicted for other DUI convictions. Testing for alcohol results like BAC levels will modify your sentence; if you were convicted with a result in the “extremely intoxicated” classification for example the judge may also be mandated to install ignition interlock devices to all your vehicles. The court may or may not appoint mandatory drug testing and enforced achievement of an alcohol treatment curriculum as part of your sentencing stricture which you will have to shoulder.
A secondary DUI conviction within a looking window of more than 5 years will result in a 180 day to 1 year revocation. You will not be allowed early reinstatement claims for a secondary DUI charge. The entire revocation window must be completed if you are to be issued licensure.
The second DUI conviction within a five-year window has a harsher penalty which is a five year license revocation. There are hardship license application provisions for someone convicted of this degree but only after serving the first year of administrative sentencing. You may contact the Administrative Reviewer to qualify for restrictive driving privileges. You will be mandated to remain in the Special Supervision Services Program for the course of your revocation sentence once approved for a hardship license.
The criminal punishment for repeat DUI offenders who cause community property damage and even worse accidents which lead to bodily harm and fatality will be subject to the highest form of prosecution claim and will sentence a convicted offender to severe criminal charges – Felony DUI which have a broader sentencing definition.
Police Use of Pre-Made DUI Arrest Reports Can Cause Problems
If a police officer sees a vehicle with odd driving patterns – such as failure to maintain a single lane, swerving, or otherwise driving erratically – he will usually pull over the vehicle. Then, he inquires about the driver’s sobriety and may ask the motorist to perform roadside field sobriety tests or even blow into a handheld breath test device. During all of this, he also gauges the driver’s overall appearance of intoxication. Common indicators a law enforcement officer could cite that point to a decision regarding intoxication include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and even confusion or disorientation.
A few years ago, a serious problem with this model became known to the public when a local Orlando television news station reported on the pre-written reports. These reports covered all of the bases, describing the general conditions of the DUI arrest in a “Mad Libs” sort of fashion. For example, the pre-composed reports had fields such as “I asked the suspect how much he had been drinking tonight and he responded ________” or “I made the traffic stop when the weather was _(cool/warm)_ and it was _(dark/daylight)_ outside.” These pre-made DUI arrest reports are problematic because they do not demonstrate the individualized issues with each defendant. They may also encourage officers from abandoning traditional investigative techniques and simply filling in easy answers throughout the DUI template.
When a police officer comes to court to testify against a DUI/DWI defendant, it is often many months following the actual arrest. Because law enforcement officials make such a high volume of arrests in many cases, they likely do not remember the particular details of each arrest from the prior year or six months earlier. Therefore, they refresh their memories with the reports they filed for the case before they take the stand. These reports, which may be heavily relied upon by the police officer when testifying, need to be as complete, accurate and individualized as possible for fairness to the DUI defendant.
Hire an experienced Florida DUI Attorney
The most important aspect of your defense is hiring a law firm that has a deep understanding of the DWI laws that govern conviction, plea bargaining, appeal and sentencing for Florida. For experienced Florida DUI lawyers or drunken driving defense attorneys, go to the right Florida DWI attorney that has a profound understanding of DWI laws in Florida and gain a reliable drunk driving defense. The first consultation is completely confidential and will be free of charge.