Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Under Florida Law
Orlando DUI Defense Attorney
Driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage (DUI), or drunk driving, is a serious offense in Florida. Under state law, DUIs are usually charged as misdemeanors. However, the consequences of being convicted of DUI are severe and long-lasting, and will impact your professional, personal, and social life. That is why you need to have an experienced lawyer defending your rights.
If you are charged with DUI in Orlando or in any other place in Florida:
- You will be kept in jail for at least 8 hours
- Your license will be suspended immediately
- If your license was valid at the time of the incident, you will be allowed to drive with your DUI ticket for the next 10 days
- You have 10 days from the day of the incident to request a formal review hearing and get your drivers license back; this is known as the ten day rule
- A temporary permit may be obtained to allow you to drive for up to 45 days until your hearing date
Being convicted of a DUI has the following serious legal consequences (for first-time offenders):
- DUI Schools
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Suspension of your driving privileges for
- Not less than 50 hours of community service
- a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of a year
- Not less than $250 or more than $500 fine plus court costs
- Not more than one year probation
- Victim awareness program
- Permanent DUI conviction on your record for life, which means criminal record
- Vehicle impoundment
Someone accused of a second DUI faces harsher penalties, including more lengthy and costly advanced DUI school, higher fines, an ignition interlock device placed in their car for at least year, longer license suspensions, and the possibility of longer jail sentences. Depending on the date of a person's prior conviction, a jail sentence may be mandatory. A person convicted of several DUI’s may likely be charged as a felon. Felony DUI may result in up to five years in state prison. Also, a person with multiple DUI convictions can lose there privilege to drive—FOREVER.
At NeJame Law, our Orlando DUI lawyers have the knowledge and experience required to fight your DUI case. The defense of these cases may be challenging and should be handled by a highly experienced DUI attorney, especially when your future is at stake.
Types of DUI Charges Under Florida Law
There are several categories of DUI charges under Florida Law. The actual charge brought against you depends on different factors, including your blood alcohol level at the time of the offense, whether or not there was a drug detected in your system, the number of prior DUI offenses you have and the time elapsed since them, whether or not there were injuries or deaths in a DUI crash, as well as property damage.
In general, DUI related offenses in Florida are classified into the following categories:
- First Time DUI- Punishable by up to one year of probation or 180 days in jail. If the blood/breath alcohol was over .15 or a minor in the vehicle, then 270 days in jail. In certain counties, there are programs for first-time offenders that can reduce the charge or dismiss it completely if the offender qualifies. For a first conviction, there is also a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1000. If the blood/breath alcohol level was .15 or higher or a minor was in the vehicle, then the fine would be not less than $1000 or more than $2000.
- Multiple DUI - A DUI is an offense that comes with more severe penalties after each conviction. A second DUI arrest within 5 years is still a misdemeanor but requires a mandatory minimum 10-day jail sentence along with probation if convicted. Another mandatory requirement is having an interlock device placed in your vehicle for two years.
- Misdemeanor DUI
- Felony DUI - A third or fourth DUI arrest will be treated as a felony. If the third DUI arrest is made within 10 years of the first conviction, then there is a mandatory 30-day jail sentence required and up to. That jail sentence can be served in the county jail or a rehab facility. will Along with the court sanctions, one will lose their driver’s license for a period of ten years with the option to get a hardship license after two.
- DUI Manslaughter - A DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony and carries with it a mandatory minimum 4 years prison sentence if convicted and up to 15 years. If convicted a person would lose their driver’s license for life and only eligible for a hardship after 4 years and be required to attend counseling and classes for the remainder of their life or while they intend to drive.
- Aggravated DUI
- Drug DUI/Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
- DUI with Property Damage - If a person causes property damage or an injury to another person while driving under the influence as a first offense would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by a year of probation or jail and a fine of not more than $1000 if convicted.
- DUI With Serious Bodily Injury - If a person causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence will be arrested and charged with a third-degree felony. The maximum punishment for that charge if convicted would be 5 years of probation or jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Commercial Vehicle DUI/CDL DUI
- DUI Under the age of 21/Zero Tolerance
- BUI/Boating Under the Influence
- Metabolite DUI
- Low BAC DUI
- High BAC DUI
Fighting a DUI case requires special skills, extensive legal knowledge and a lot of experience in the criminal justice system. Our experience comes from having represented thousands of clients charged with DUIs. A skilled Orlando DUI lawyer at our Florida law firm can review your case to determine if you were unlawfully charged. We will use every available resource to fight for your case and get the best possible outcome in your best interest, trying to avoid extended suspension of your driving privileges and helping you to get your life back to normal.
Watery eyes, flushed face, slurred speech, stumbling, sleepiness, or alcohol odor observed by policeman, do NOT legally demonstrate high alcohol content in your blood. The use of breath analyzers is also controversial and we could challenge its results.
Florida's Licensed DUI Programs
DUI school is often ordered by the court for people convicted of DUI (driving
under the influence of an alcoholic beverage). By completing DUI school,
people can sometimes avoid having points added to their drivers' licenses
and get reduced penalties. Depending upon the charges, a DUI school may
require 12 hours of instruction or more.
The Bureau of Driver Education and DUI Programs provides the oversight for 26 licensed programs in Florida. These DUI programs are private and professional non-profit organizations that are required to provide education, a psychosocial evaluation and treatment referral services to DUI offenders to satisfy judicial and driver licensing requirements.
There are two educational services offered:
- Level I for first-time offenders: This program is a minimum of 12 hours of classroom instruction and it incorporates different interactive educational techniques.
- Level II for multiple offenders: This program is a minimum of 21 hours of classroom time and it focuses on the problems of the repeat offender and treatment readiness as the majority of students are referred to treatment.
Don’t Risk Your Future—Call Us
If you or someone you care about has been charged with drunk driving, or DUI, in Central Florida, call us immediately. We handle cases in Orlando and throughout the state, including the cities of Winter Park, Kissimmee, and Windermere.
Call (407) 500-0000 to reach our Orlando DUI lawyers today.
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When can I get charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
A person can be charged with Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, when she/he is driving or is in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state of Florida and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical substance, to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired or has a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.
What is the "Ten Day Rule"?
The Ten Day Rule states that you have 10 days from the DUI arrest date to request a formal review hearing and challenge the Administrative Suspension of your driver license. If this hearing is requested within this 10 day period, a temporary license will be issued to you. This license is usually good for up to seven days after the hearing. If the formal review hearing is not requested within this ten day period, your license will be suspended. The suspension will apply for 6 to 18 months, depending on your specific case. You are allowed to drive using your citation as a driving permit during the first 10 days after your DUI arrest.
How serious is a DUI/DWI in Florida?
Driving a motor vehicle Under the Influence of alcoholic beverages or a controlled substance (DUI) is a misdemeanor that is taken very seriously by prosecutors in the State of Florida. A first DUI conviction requires by Florida Statutes that a person be placed on probation, complete 50 hours of community service, complete DUI school, complete a substance abuse course, attend the VIP (victim impact panel), and pay several hundred dollars in fines and court costs (the fine itself is between $250.00 and $500.00). A six-month license suspension and temporary vehicle immobilization are also required by statute. Jail is not mandatory on a first DUI; however, a person can be sentenced up to six months in jail on a first-time DUI. Second and subsequent DUI convictions require a more lengthy and costly advanced DUI School, higher fines, longer license suspensions, and the possibility of longer jail sentences. Depending on the date of a person's prior conviction, a jail sentence may be mandatory for a subsequent DUI. A person convicted of several DUI’s may likely be charged as a felon. A felony DUI may result in up to five years in state prison. Also, a person with multiple DUI convictions can lose their privilege to drive forever.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
The Ignition Interlock Device is an in-car alcohol breath screening device sometimes placed inside a vehicle of a person under DUI probation and connected to the ignition system. Once installed, the person must blow into it and pass a breath test in order to be able to start the vehicle. The Ignition Interlock Device also requires random breath samples to keep the engine working.
What is blood alcohol content and how much is considered illegal?
Breath alcohol content measures the amount of alcohol in a person's breath. A .08 breath alcohol level means that there are .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. Blood alcohol content measures the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. A .08 blood alcohol level means that there are .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. If a person is driving a motor vehicle in Florida and has a breath or blood alcohol level of .08 or greater, he or she is presumed guilty of DUI. Other evidence may be introduced to challenge that presumption.
What happens if I refuse to take a breath analyzer test?
If a person refuses to submit to a lawful test of his or her breath, urine, or blood, their driving privileges may be suspended for one year for a first refusal and eighteen months in the case of a second or subsequent refusal. This suspension may be contested at an administrative hearing; this hearing must be requested within ten days from the day of the arrest. Additionally, a person whose license was previously suspended for refusing to submit to a lawful test of his or her breath, urine, or blood and is arrested again for DUI and refuses to submit to a breath, urine, or blood alcohol test, commits a first-degree misdemeanor.
I got my license suspended. What can I do to get it back?
It all depends on the reason for suspension. Sometimes all that is required is that a person pay some outstanding tickets. DUI suspensions will require the completion of DUI school and a reinstatement fee. A more serious suspension involves a situation where a person has multiple DUI convictions. In those cases, there may be a lengthy waiting period without any driving and then a person can petition for limited driving privileges, or a hardship license, which allows driving for limited purposes such as work, medically necessary appointments, and the like. Enough DUI convictions may suspend driving privileges permanently without the possibility of a hardship license. Another serious suspension is a Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension, or HTO suspension. Three “serious traffic offenses,” as defined by statute, within a five-year period will result in an HTO suspension. Also, fifteen moving violations within five years can result in HTO status and the accompanying five-year suspension. A person may be eligible for a hardship license after one year of HTO status; they may petition the DHSMV for a hardship license after the first year of the HTO status runs, but only if they have not driven during that period. In some instances, the validity of HTO status itself can be challenged.