What You Should Know About DUI Charges
Florida statute defines DUI as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When charged with a DUI, your actions can have lasting implications on the successful defense of your case. From the moment you are stopped, law enforcement is making a record of your condition and behavior. With an understanding of the entire DUI process, you are better equipped to handle yourself in a manner that best protects your liberties and your driving privileges.
Florida DUI Penalties
The penalties for Florida DUI can be minor or severe, depending on the circumstances present and whether or not it was a first offense.
- First offense – Depending on the reported blood alcohol content, punishment can include up to nine months in jail, a fine up to $2,000 and suspension of driving privileges for 180 days to a year
- Second offense – Incarceration up to a year and up to $4,000 in fines, along with license suspension up to five years.
- Third offense – A felony with incarceration up to a year in jail and a possible fine up to $5,000. Driving privileges are suspended for a period up to 10 years.
The Initial Stop
The typical DUI stop will include a series of questions and requests from the officer. Remember that any information you provide the officer can be used against you if the case goes to trial. While giving false information can negatively affect your credibility, it is also not wise to offer unsolicited facts about your condition or recent drinking activities.
The law enforcement officer may also ask you to perform a series of tests called field sobriety exercises. They use these tests to judge your level of coordination and sobriety. If you agree to perform the tests, listen carefully to the instructions given to you. Failure to adequately follow directions can lead the officer to conclude that you are under the influence. Some examples of common field sobriety exercises are:
- One-leg stand test;
- Walk and turn test;
- Horizontal gaze test; and
- Alphabet recitation tests
An extremely important aspect of the DUI traffic stop is the request to take a breathalyzer test. Florida statute utilizes the informed consent law. You are required to take a breath of blood intoxication test if requested by the arresting officer. Failure to do so can result in the following penalties:
- For the first offense, your license may be suspended for a year.
- Second and subsequent offenses can result in license suspension up to 18 months, along with possible jail time
It is important to note that a court may find you guilty of a DUI even without the results of an intoxication test. So, don’t assume that your refusal will prevent a DUI conviction.
By arming yourself with knowledge about the DUI process, you are better prepared to deal with the situation should it ever arise in your life. An experienced lawyer is crucial to a DUI defense and it is important to contact one immediately following your arrest.
If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges within the state of Florida, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.