Understanding DUI Charges in Florida

DUI charges are taken seriously and come with consequences that will impact your life for many years. Your charge depends on your BAC level during your arrest, whether there was property damage, injuries, or death, and any prior convictions. The types of charges and penalties for DUI convictions are stated in Florida Statute 316.193. Here are the common types of DUI charges in Florida and the penalties you may face if convicted.

First DUI Charge

Anyone convicted of a DUI must participate in an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program. Your license will be suspended for at least 180 days and up to one year (at the judge’s discretion). Your car will be impounded for at least ten days. You will also have to pay a fine between $500 and $1,000. Although not mandatory, you could face up to six months of jail time. If you tested with a BAC level higher than .15% or there was a minor in your car at the time of the arrest, you could face harsher penalties.

Second and Subsequent DUI Charges

You’ll face harsher penalties if you’re convicted of DUI more than once in five years. This includes installing an interlock device in your vehicle (at your own expense), which tests your BAC level each time you drive and won’t allow the car to turn on if your level reaches a certain threshold. The mandatory time the device must be installed in your vehicle will depend on your prior convictions but can range between one and three years. Multiple DUI convictions will also increase fines, longer driver’s license suspensions, and longer car impoundments. You are also more likely to spend time in jail with a second or subsequent DUI conviction. For a second conviction, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days and a maximum of nine months. You’ll also face a minimum fine of $1,000. For a third or subsequent conviction, you’ll be considered a Habitual Offender. You will face a mandatory 30-day jail sentence (maximum five years), a third-degree felony charge, and a license suspension of up to 10 years.

DUI Crash With Damage or Injuries

If you’re involved in a DUI crash that caused property damage or injuries, you’ll face increased penalties than regular convictions. There are two primary categories of DUI crashes with damage and injury charges: DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide. You will be charged with DUI Manslaughter if your driving under the influence directly resulted in or contributed to another person’s death. It’s a second-degree felony and can

come with a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a maximum $10,000 fine. If you have at least three prior DUI convictions and caused a crash that resulted in the death of another person, you’ll be charged with Vehicular Homicide. If you leave the scene, you will face harsher penalties.

Defending DUI Charges

Here are some common defenses for DUI charges:

False Test Results

Law enforcement utilizes tests like breathalyzers and field sobriety tests to test your BAC level. These tests are often inaccurate or produce false readings. Several factors, such as your body temperature, gender, and known medical conditions, can influence the results of these tests, making them inaccurate.

Vehicle Not In Operation

You can only be convicted of DUI if you were found to be the operator of a vehicle in motion and registered a BAC level of .08% or higher. There are many instances where you could have been behind the wheel and tested positively for DUI but not operate the car, such as sitting in your car with the ignition on while taking a nap.

Illegal Traffic Stop

There must be a valid reason you were pulled over to be charged with DUI. Your case could be dismissed if law enforcement didn’t follow proper procedures during your traffic stop.

Alison M. Lopes: Orlando DUI Defense Attorney

When facing a DUI conviction, you have the right to defend yourself in court. Contact the law office of Alison M. Lopes at 407-442-2724 to discuss your case as soon as possible.