Florida DUI Law. E-Book. A Simple Guide to Florida DUI Law. by: Florida Law Advisers, P.A. 1 Call: Web:

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1 Florida DUI Law E-Book A Simple Guide to Florida DUI Law by: Florida Law Advisers, P.A. 1 Call: Web:

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS THE DUI PROCESS... 3 CHALLENGING THE EVIDENCE AGAISNT YOU... 5 BREATHALYZER TEST... 5 BLOOD TEST... 6 FIELD SOBRIETY TEST... 6 CHALLENGING THE INITIAL STOP FOR LACK OF PROBABLE CAUSE... 7 PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE... 8 DMV HEARINGS (LICENSE SUSPENSION)... 8 OBTAINING A HARDSHIP LICENSE... 9 SPECIFIC TYPES OF DUI DEFENSE FIRST TIME DUI DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS DRIVERS UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE DUI WHILE OPERATING A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE OPERATING A BOAT WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL PRIOR DUI CONVICTIONS OUT OF STATE DUI (NON FLORIDA RESIDENT DUI) DUI WITH BODILY INJURY OR PROPERTY DAMAGE DUI MANSLAUGHTER PENALTIES FOR DUI IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE INSTALLATION MANDATED COUNSELING DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE PROBATION ALCOHOL TEST REFUSAL VEHICLE IMPOUNDMENT EXPUNGEMENT OF YOUR DUI RECORD IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER Call: Web:

3 THE DUI PROCESS Being arrested and charged with DUI can be a very frightening experience. DUI convictions can result in imprisonment, hefty fines, and other penalties. If you have been arrested for DUI you probably have a lot of questions about the trial process, penalties you may face, and how you can defend the charges. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we understand the stress and uncertainty you may be feeling. We will help you understand how the legal process works and aggressively fight the charges against you. Below is a brief summary of a typical DUI process. For more information, please contact us today to speak with a DUI attorney. The Arrest: The DUI arrest typically occurs after a police officer has stopped a vehicle and has found probable cause to believe the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The police officer may have initially stopped the car due to a violation of a traffic ordinance, such as running a red light, or because the driver was showing signs of intoxication, such as swerving through lanes. If the officer suspects the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he will usually request that the driver participate in a field sobriety exercise and may also administer a breathalyzer test. Drivers have many constitutional rights that police officers must strictly adhere to when arresting a driver for DUI. If the police officer does not follow proper procedures during the arrest, evidence that would have otherwise been used to prove your guilt may be thrown out of court as inadmissible. Our DUI attorneys carefully review all of the details of an arrest to find any grounds we can use to get evidence against our clients thrown out of court. Florida DUI law allows a DUI attorney to challenge an aspect of the arrest during any stage of the DUI process. Booking: After being arrested, the driver will be taken into custody and booked at the police department. During the booking process, a police officer will usually take photographs and fingerprints, search the criminal record of the driver, and record personal information. In addition, any personal property such as a wallet, phone, or watch will be confiscated and held by the officer until the driver is released. Usually, you will be held at the police station for at least 8 hours before being released or appearing before a judge. The First Appearance The first appearance is a hearing before a court officer that must be held within 24 hours after an arrest. During the first appearance, the judge will inform the driver of the charges against them and address the Constitutional right to have an attorney appointed to all defendants in a criminal trial. The judge will also determine whether the driver should be held in custody, released on their own recognizance, or released on bail. If bail is granted, the amount of money required to post bail will vary based on your criminal 3 Call: Web:

4 history, including prior DUI convictions. If bail is not permitted at the first appearance, a judge may still grant release or bail at a later stage in the DUI process. Arraignment: At the arraignment the judge will read the charges aloud and ask how the driver pleads to the charges. The driver has the option of pleading either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Depending on the plea entered, the judge will either set the case for trial or issue the sentence. Once you hire an attorney, the attorney will file a notice of appearance. A notice of appearance informs all parties involved on both sides of the case that any future communication must be conducted through the attorney that you hired. Once you have an attorney, you may not have to appear at the arraignment because the DUI lawyer may be able to appear on your behalf. Preliminary Hearing: At the preliminary hearing the judge determines whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence to put forth a case that could lead to a conviction. Both the prosecution and defense attorney will be allowed to present evidence and witnesses favoring their position. The case will not be allowed to proceed to trial if the judge determines that there is not enough evidence against the driver at that time. The Trial: At trial the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in order to convict the defendant of DUI. In most DUI arrests the case will never go to trial because either the defendant pleads guilty or has reached a settlement with the prosecutor, or there is not enough evidence presented at the preliminary hearing to warrant a trial. Automatic Driver s License Suspension If you have been placed under arrest for DUI or refused to take a breathalyzer test, the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will automatically suspend your driver s license. You must petition the DHSMV for a hearing within 10 days of the suspension of your license or else you will lose the right to challenge the suspension. The DHSMV hearing is independent of any criminal charges that may be pending or filed against you. Thus, the DHSMV license suspension will not be dependent on you being found guilty in a criminal court and can become effective before your criminal trial even begins. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., our DUI Attorneys are experienced and skilled at all stages of a criminal DUI arrest and DHSMV hearing. We carefully scrutinize every detail of a case to identify any potential errors by police, violations of constitutional rights, mishandling of evidence, or sloppy police work that we can use to help our clients. If you have been arrested for DUI or your license has been suspended for failure to submit to a breathalyzer test, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a DUI lawyer. 4 Call: Web:

5 CHALLENGING THE EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU The Breathalyzer Test If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, you were likely asked to take a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test indirectly measures the blood alcohol content in your body by analyzing the amount of methyl groups in your breath. In many DUI cases, the results of the breathalyzer test will be the prosecutor s most important evidence against you and it will be a significant factor in determining whether or not a driver is found guilty of DUI. Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate and can be challenged on numerous grounds. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. our DUI attorneys know the precise procedures police must follow when administering breath tests and exactly how the machine works. We carefully review every detail of a client s DUI arrest to find grounds to get the breathalyzer results thrown out of court and the charges dropped. The official breathalyzer machine used in Florida is the Intoxilyzer 8000 manufactured by CMI. The Intoxilyzer 8000 uses infrared spectroscopy to test the amount of methyl groups in a person s breath. The machine must be calibrated and maintained according to a strict schedule; any slight error in calibration or maintenance can create inaccurate results. There are many factors that may interfere with a breath test, providing grounds to exclude the results. Possible Breath Test Defenses: The test was administered by an individual who was not properly trained in conducting breathalyzer tests Contamination from outside electronic devices Driver has a medical condition that affected the reading The device was not properly maintained or regularly calibrated in accordance with state standards The driver vomited, belched, ate, drank or smoked within 15 minutes prior to the test The breathalyzer machine was not certified Amount of time between consumption of alcohol and administration of the test Driver had dentures or dental work which trapped alcohol in the mouth The breathalyzer machine malfunctioned The test was not performed properly Alcohol from mouthwash, breath fresheners or cold remedies affected the results At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. we aggressively defend clients who are charged with a DUI in the Tampa Bay area. We are skilled at finding violations of blood alcohol testing procedures and grounds that can call into question the reliability of the breath test results 5 Call: Web:

6 Blood Tests For Alcohol Blood alcohol tests are less common than breath tests; however, they can be a crucial piece of evidence for prosecutors to rely on in DUI cases. Blood alcohol tests are commonly used by law enforcement after an auto accident that police believe was caused by drunk driving. A blood alcohol test directly measures the blood alcohol concentration of a driver. This test is done by drawing two blood samples from the driver, mixing it with a preservative, and then sending the samples to a crime lab, as well as an independent lab, for analysis. Blood alcohol tests are more reliable than breathalyzer tests; however, blood tests are susceptible to error and can be successfully challenged by a DUI attorney experienced in DUI blood alcohol tests. Errors in the administration and analysis of blood alcohol tests by law enforcement are not uncommon. Blood alcohol tests can provide false results if the testing was administered without proper sterilization, coagulation, fermentation, refrigeration, or markings. Any inconsistencies or errors such as these could result in the blood test being inadmissible as evidence in court. Also, if the results of the blood tests administered by the crime lab and independent lab differ in their results, both tests may be thrown out of court. If the blood test is inadmissible in court the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to convict you and the charges may be dropped. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. we carefully scrutinize every detail of the blood alcohol test to identify any potential errors. If there was an error in the testing process at the time of your arrest we can aggressively fight to have the charges dropped and the case dismissed. Field Sobriety Tests If a police officer suspects a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is likely that the officer will ask the driver to conduct a field sobriety exercise. Field sobriety exercises are designed to test a person s physical and mental capabilities. Field sobriety tests are agility and coordination based exercises that can be difficult to perform even if you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Field sobriety exercises are not always an accurate indicator of whether or not a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are many factors that can cause a completely sober driver to fail a field sobriety exercise and appear intoxicated. For instance, the weather, lack of proper instruction by the police officer, traffic distractions, physical condition of the driver, and type of shoes the driver is wearing can all be factors that diminish the reliability of these exercises. Police officers have been given discretion in determining whether or not a driver has failed a field sobriety test. The police officer will subjectively determine if the driver has either performed to standard, passed, or failed the test. This can be problematic for drivers because in many cases the police officer already suspects the driver is intoxicated and simply conducts the exercise to bolster the evidence against the driver. Therefore, most drivers will benefit from refusing to participate in a field sobriety exercise. Unlike 6 Call: Web:

7 chemical tests for alcohol and drug use, field sobriety exercises are voluntary and the driver can refuse to participate. The 3 Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Used by Tampa Bay Area Police Officers: One-Leg Stand - The police officer will ask the driver to stand on one foot with the other foot lifted 6 inches off of the ground. The officer will then ask the driver to count out loud by thousands (ex. one thousand and one, one thousand and two ) while maintaining his or her balance. The driver is expected to continue counting until the officer requests him to stop. The One-Leg Stand exercise should last for about 30 seconds. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - Nystagmus refers to an involuntary jerking motion in the eyes. During the HGN exercise, the police officer will hold an object (usually a pen) in front of the driver and ask the driver to follow the object with his eyes. If the driver is not capable of following the object, or if his eyes begin twitching, this is viewed by police officers as an indication of drug use or intoxication. Walk & Turn The police officer will instruct the driver to take several steps in a straight line while touching heel to toe, then turn around and repeat the action in the opposite direction. In addition to these three exercises, a police officer may request the driver to perform other nonstandardized field sobriety exercises. These non-standardized field sobriety exercises can include the finger-to-nose test, counting backwards, recitation of the alphabet, and other balancing exercises. Challenging The Initial Stop For Lack of Probable Cause The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that police have probable cause before stopping and searching a vehicle. Probable cause requires more than just a hunch; police must have specific evidence indicating a violation of the law has occurred. Simply leaving a bar and taking control of a vehicle is not enough evidence on its own to establish probable cause of DUI. There must be evidence sufficient to create probable cause that the driver is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Law enforcement frequently rely on the following factors to establish probable cause of DUI. Erratic driving Speeding Weaving, drifting, or swerving Running a stop sign or red light Driving without headlights Failure to stay in a single lane Careless driving Driving too slowly Reckless driving 7 Call: Web:

8 The DUI Checkpoint Exception During DUI checkpoints, law enforcement will typically set up a roadblock to stop vehicles late at night and search for evidence of drunk driving. There are typically 15 to 20 DUI checkpoints in Florida each month. Police will not need to establish probable cause to stop a driver and question him for DUI if the driver is stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Florida courts have ruled that stops at DUI checkpoints are valid despite lacking probable cause. However, police must follow specific rules when setting up DUI checkpoints. The stop must be part of a systemized routine it cannot not be an isolated instance where police have a hunch that you are driving drunk and decide to stop your vehicle. Law enforcement must follow the prewritten guidelines that mandate the procedures for operating DUI checkpoints. If a DUI checkpoint did not strictly adhere to these guidelines, an arrest at the checkpoint may be deemed unconstitutional and the charges dropped. If the police did not have probable cause to stop your car or the DUI checkpoint was invalid, your DUI charges may get dismissed. If you were arrested for DUI, you should contact us to speak with a DUI attorney. Our DUI lawyers have years of experience in challenging illegal vehicle stops and DUI checkpoint arrests. We will carefully scrutinize every detail of your case to identify any potential violations of your constitutional rights. The initial stop is just one of the many tools we can use to have charges against our clients dismissed. There are numerous grounds other than the traffic stop that can lead to a dismissal. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact us to schedule a free confidential consultation to see if we can help get your DUI charges dropped. PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE DMV Hearings If you have been arrested for DUI, your driver s license will be automatically suspended for at least 6 months by the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You must contest the license suspension and file for a hearing with the DHSMV within 10 days of your arrest. If you do not file for a hearing within 10 days of the arrest you will lose your opportunity to contest the suspension. Therefore, it is important that you contact a DUI attorney immediately after being arrested for DUI. At the DHSMV hearing, the hearing officer will review the police record of the arrest, the alcohol chemical tests, and other relevant evidence to determine whether or not the license suspension should be upheld. It is important to have an attorney with you at the hearing to challenge the evidence against you and to put forward any evidence that may be in your favor. In certain circumstances, evidence against you can be thrown out at the hearing with the help of an experienced DUI attorney. For instance, evidence may be excluded from the hearing if the initial stop was unconstitutional, or the chemical blood alcohol tests were not administered properly. Furthermore, an attorney can present evidence in your favor and cross examine witnesses to persuade the hearing officer against upholding the suspension. 8 Call: Web:

9 The DHSMV hearing does not determine if the driver will face criminal penalties for DUI. It only determines whether or not the driver will retain driving privileges. If the driver is successful at getting the license reinstated at the DHSMV hearing, the driver may still lose their driving privileges if later found guilty in the criminal DUI hearing. Therefore, it is important to have competent legal representation during both your DHSMV and criminal DUI hearing. The DUI attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. have years of experience representing clients in both DHSMV hearings and criminal DUI trials. A DUI attorney at our firm can request a hearing on your behalf, help you get a temporary hardship license while your hearing with the DMSHV is pending, and represent you throughout the DHSMV and criminal DUI hearing. The outcome of your DHSMV and criminal DUI trial will greatly affect your finances and future. We urge you to contact our firm as quickly as possible after the arrest so that we can immediately initiate the necessary defense actions on your behalf and help get the charges against you dropped. Obtaining a Hardship License If you have been arrested for DUI or refused to take a breathalyzer test, your driver s license may automatically be suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The length of the suspension will vary based on the circumstances of your arrest and whether or not you have prior breathalyzer test refusals or DUI convictions on your record. If you licensed has been suspended, a DUI attorney at our firm may be able to get you a hardship license. A hardship license will allow you to legally operate a vehicle despite your license suspension from the DHSMV. Under Florida law , a driver with a suspended license can petition the DHSMV for a hardship license. A hardship license is a provisional driver's license that allows an individual to operate a vehicle for a limited purpose. There are two types of hardship licenses: a business hardship license and an employment hardship license. A business hardship license allows a driver with a suspended license to operate a vehicle for the purpose of maintaining their livelihood. On the other hand, an employment hardship license will permit an individual to operate a vehicle for employment purposes. An employment hardship license is more limited in scope than a business hardship license, meaning you have less flexibility in where and when you can drive with an employment hardship license. Not every driver with a suspended license will qualify for a hardship license. Depending on the circumstances of your license suspension, you may have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass in order to be eligible for a hardship license. Requirements For Eligibility If the license was suspended because of a second DUI conviction within 5 years, you must wait one year before being eligible for a hardship license. 9 Call: Web:

10 If the license was suspended because of a third DUI conviction within 10 years, you must wait two years before being eligible for a hardship license. If your license was terminated because of a fourth DUI conviction, you will not be eligible for a hardship license. A fourth DUI conviction will result in permanent revocation of a driver s license with no possibility of obtaining a hardship license. SPECIFIC TYPES OF DUI First Time DUI Offense DUI's do not just happen to criminals anyone can get arrested for DUI. If you go to a party or dinner and have a few drinks, you could be stopped by the police on your way home and arrested for DUI. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., our DUI attorneys have years of experience defending clients who have never faced criminal charges before, but are now facing DUI charges. We understand that you probably have a lot of questions and are nervous about the potential consequences you may be facing if convicted. Florida Law Advisers, P.A. is here to help, and we will not only aggressively fight to get the charges against you dropped. We will also keep you well-informed throughout the entire legal process and answer any questions you may have. Automatic License Suspension If you have been arrested for DUI, your driver s license will automatically suspended for at least 6 months by the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You must contest the license suspension and file for a hearing with the DHSMV within 10 days of your arrest. If you do not file for a hearing within 10 days of the arrest, you will lose your opportunity to contest the suspension. The DHSMV hearing does not determine if you will face criminal penalties for DUI, it only determines whether or not you will retain your driving privileges. If you are successful at getting the license reinstated at the DHSMV hearing, you may still lose your driving privileges if later found guilty in the criminal DUI hearing. Therefore, it is important to have competent legal representation during both your DHSMV and criminal DUI hearing. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to speak with a DUI lawyer right away. A DUI attorney at our firm can request a DHSMV hearing on your behalf, help you get a temporary hardship license while your hearing with the DMSHV is pending, and represent you throughout the DHSMV and criminal DUI process. Possible Penalties for a Misdemeanor First Offense DUI Prison sentence up to 6 months Fines up to $1,000 Driver s license suspension for up to 1 year 10 Call: Web:

11 Probation for up to 1 year Up to 50 hours of community service DUI counseling 10 day vehicle impoundment 6 month ignition interlock device installation Under Florida DUI law, most DUI arrests will be charged as a misdemeanor. However, a number of factors may result in harsher penalties than those listed above, and even escalate the existing charge to a felony DUI charge. A felony DUI will result in more severe penalties for the driver than a misdemeanor DUI. For instance, you may be charged with a felony DUI if you caused serious bodily injury to another person while you were operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, even if it is your first DUI offense. The DUI attorneys at our firm are experienced and skilled at all stages of a criminal DUI arrest and DHSMV hearing. We carefully scrutinize every detail of a case to identify any potential errors by police, violations of constitutional rights, mishandling of evidence, or sloppy police work that we can use to help our clients. If the police committed an error during your arrest or violated your constitutional rights, you may be entitled to get the charges against you dropped in their entirety. If you have questions about your DUI arrest or would like a free case review, contact us today by phone, webform, or to speak with a DUI lawyer. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Most Florida DUI arrests occur when the driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08%. However, drivers do not need to be under the influence of alcohol to be convicted of DUI. Florida DUI law only requires that the driver be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of impairing substances. These impairing substances include illegal drugs, prescription medication, alcohol, and even over the counter medication. DUI charges based on drug use can be difficult for the prosecutor to prove if the driver has hired a skilled DUI attorney. A breathalyzer test is not useful in determining if the driver is under the influence of drugs, instead the arrest will largely be based on the result of chemical urine and blood tests. These tests are inherently unreliable in determining if the driver was under the influence of drugs while operating the vehicle and can be challenged by a DUI lawyer on numerous grounds. Blood and urine tests must be administered by law enforcement exactly as the guidelines require. A single error in the administration or handling of the blood or urine test can invalidate the results and make the test inadmissible in court. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. our DUI attorneys know exactly what procedures law enforcement must follow and carefully review every detail of a chemical test to identify any potential errors. If there is an error in the administration of the chemical test, we will aggressively petition to have the results of the test thrown out of court. 11 Call: Web:

12 A properly administered chemical test can still be challenged by a DUI lawyer on a number of grounds. For instance, drugs can remain in a person s blood or urine for up to 30 days; therefore, chemical tests showing drug use does not prove the driver was under the influence of drugs at the time of the arrest. The chemical test only provides evidence that there may be drugs in your system, not proof that they actually impaired your ability to drive. The prosecutor will need to prove you were under the influence of drugs at the time of the arrest and the drugs impaired your ability to drive in order to convict you of a DUI. In addition to challenging the chemical tests, there may also be grounds to exclude evidence found by the police officer. For instance, if the police officer searched you or your car without probable cause, or failed to inform you of your rights, any evidence recovered may be inadmissible in court. Drivers Under 21 Years of Age Florida DUI law has a "no tolerance" policy for individuals under the age of 21 who drive while under the influence of alcohol. The legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers under 21 is only 0.02%. This limit is substantially more stringent than it is for drivers over the age of 21. The legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers over 21 is 0.08%, which is 4 times the limit for drivers under 21. If you or your child is under 21 and has been arrested for DUI, you should contact a DUI attorney right away. The penalties for a driver under 21 operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.02% or higher can include license suspension, probation, fines, court costs, community service, incarceration, and increased insurance premiums. Underage DUI With a Blood Alcohol Content between 0.02 & 0.08% If the driver s blood alcohol content was between 0.02% and 0.08%, the driver will not face criminal DUI charges. However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will automatically suspend the driver s license. If it is the driver s first DUI offense, the license suspension will remain in effect for 6 months. If the driver has prior DUI offenses, the license will be suspended for 1 year. The driver must petition the DHSMV for a hearing within 10 days. If the hearing is not requested within 10 days, the opportunity to contest the suspension will be forfeited. Therefore, it is important that you contact a DUI attorney immediately after being detained for DUI. At the DHSMV hearing, the hearing officer will review the police record, alcohol chemical tests, and other relevant evidence to determine whether or not the license suspension should be upheld. It is important to have an attorney with you at the hearing to challenge the evidence against you and to put forward any evidence that may be in your favor. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to identify grounds for getting evidence against you thrown out of the hearing. For instance, evidence may be excluded from the hearing if the initial stop was unconstitutional, or if the chemical blood alcohol tests were not administered properly. Furthermore, an attorney can present evidence in your favor and cross examine witnesses to persuade the hearing officer against upholding the suspension. 12 Call: Web:

13 Underage DUI With a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or higher If the driver s blood alcohol content was 0.08% or higher the driver will face criminal DUI charges. The procedure and penalties will be the same as it is for drivers over the age of 21 who are arrested for DUI. However, drivers under 21 may face additional penalties that are not applicable to drivers over 21. For instance, a DUI conviction can drastically hinder the driver s ability to get into college or find a job. DUI While Operating a Commercial Vehicle If you operate a commercial vehicle, such as a bus, taxi, truck, or limousine, for a living and have been arrested for a DUI it is crucial that you contact a DUI attorney. Being convicted of a DUI can result in your commercial driver s license being suspended or terminated, placing you career in grave jeopardy and significantly effecting your ability to earn a living. If you have been arrested for a DUI you should always contact a DUI lawyer for advice, especially if you operate a commercial vehicle. The laws for commercial drivers are a lot more strict and the consequences of an arrest can be more severe than they are for residential drivers. The legal blood alcohol level for operating commercial vehicles is more stringent than it is for operating non-commercial vehicles. Under Florida DUI law, it is illegal to operate a non-commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08%. On the other hand, operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of only 0.04% can result in a DUI conviction. Operators of commercial vehicles do not have the right to refuse to submit to chemical tests for blood alcohol content. Refusing to participate in the test is illegal and can carry additional consequences for the driver. If convicted of a DUI, the commercial driver s license will automatically be suspended for at least one year. If it is the driver s second conviction for operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the commercial driver's license will be permanently revoked. Furthermore, commercial drivers are not eligible for a hardship license to operate a commercial vehicle. At Florida Legal Advisers, P.A. we understand just how important it is for commercial drivers to maintain their CDL. In commercial DUI cases we aggressively fight the charges against our clients to get the case thrown out of court. Our DUI lawyers carefully scrutinize every detail of the case to identify any potential errors by police, violations of constitutional rights, mishandling of evidence, and sloppy police work. If you have been arrested for a DUI contact us today by , phone, or web form to schedule a free consultation and to see if we can help prevent your CDL from being taken away from you. 13 Call: Web:

14 Operating a While Boat Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (BUI) Florida leads the nation in the annual number of fatal boating accidents. Approximately 33% of all boating accidents occur due to alcohol or drugs, and in more than 50% of those cases, the individual either fell overboard or capsized the boat. Florida has attempted to alleviate the harm that operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause by enacting a series of strict Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws. Under Florida BUI law, it is illegal to operate a boat or any other watercraft vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver over the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher will be guilty of BUI in Florida. If the driver is under 21 years of age a blood alcohol level over 0.02% will constitute a criminal BUI offense. Studies have shown that once a driver s blood alcohol level reaches these limits, the driver s balance, vision, judgment, reflexes, and coordination will become impaired. In addition, many factors inherent to boating, such as vibrations, wind, sun, rocking, and heat can intensify the effects of drugs and alcohol. Unlike driving an automobile, an officer does not need to suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to pull you over and search the boat. State boating officials can order you to stop and board the boat to check a boat's registration or to conduct a safety investigation. While on the boat if the officer suspects there are any alcohol or drugs being consumed he can place you under arrest for BUI. Thus, you may receive a BUI citation even if you were not driving recklessly and the officer had no reason to suspect any illegal activity before stopping your boat. Once an officer stops your vehicle and has reason to believe you are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he will conduct an investigation. The investigation is very similar to a DUI investigation. The officer will request that you participate in a field sobriety and breathalyzer test. Often, the officer will bring you to the shore to conduct the field sobriety test, such as the one-leg-stand or finger-to-nose exercise. If you participated in a field sobriety test and were arrested for BUI, it is important that you contact a BUI lawyer immediately. Normally, after being on a boat for an extended period of time you will have sea legs, which can hinder your balance and make it nearly impossible to perform a field sobriety exercise. Unfortunately, many people are falsely accused of boating while under the influence or drugs or alcohol because of this reason. If you have been arrested for BUI you could be subjected to imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, and/or mandatory drug/alcohol treatment. In addition, your boat may be impounded and your boating license can be suspended or terminated. That is why it is important that you hire an experienced BUI attorney if you have been arrested for a BUI. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. our attorneys have years of experience helping clients defend against BUI charges. Our BUI attorneys will carefully study every detail of your case to develop a comprehensive strategy to try and either reduce the charges or have them dropped entirely. 14 Call: Web:

15 Prior DUI Arrests If you have been arrested for DUI, you should hire competent legal counsel, especially if you have prior DUI convictions. Florida DUI law takes a tough stance on drivers with multiple DUI s. The penalties for drivers with prior DUI convictions will be more harsh than the penalties for first time offenders. Penalties for Multiple DUI Convictions Second DUI Offense Within 5 Years Potential jail time of 10 days to 12 months Fine of $500 to $4,000 Suspended driver s license for up to 5 years One year of probation 50 hours of community service Mandatory DUI counseling Vehicle impoundment for 30 days Ignition interlock device installed for up to 2 years Possible deportation if not a U.S. citizen Third DUI Offense Within 10 Years Charged as a Felony Potential jail time of 30 days to 5 years Fine of $1,000 to $5,000 Suspended driver s license for up to 10 years Probation for 1 to 5 years Vehicle impoundment for 90 days 50 hours of community service Ignition interlock device installation Mandatory DUI counseling Possible deportation if not a U.S. citizen Regardless of whether this is your first DUI offense or you have many prior DUI convictions, Florida Law Advisers, P.A. may be able to help. We will carefully review every detail of your case and prior convictions to develop a comprehensive legal strategy. We understand how much is at stake for drivers with prior DUI convictions, and we take these matters very seriously. We will aggressively defend our clients at every phase of their case. 15 Call: Web:

16 Out of State DUI (Non Florida Resident DUI) Florida, like most other states in the country, is part of the Drivers License Compact (Florida Statute ). Under this compact, all member states must communicate any traffic violation or DUI conviction to the National Driver Register, a national database of violation records. Therefore, if you are Florida resident and you are found guilty of a DUI in Georgia, Florida will be notified of the DUI conviction through the National Driver Register and may impose penalties in addition to those enforced under Georgia law. Conversely, if you are convicted of a DUI in Florida and you are a resident of another state, Florida will notify your home state through the National Driver Register of your DUI conviction. Under this scenario, both Florida and your home state may enforce penalties for your DUI conviction in Florida. In essence, the DLC acts to notify state governments of DUI convictions and allows all states with jurisdiction to separately punish the driver for a DUI conviction. When you are arrested for DUI in Florida, all of Florida s DUI laws will be applied to your case, regardless of whether you are a resident of another state. Therefore, you can be punished under Florida DUI law even if you are only vacationing in Florida. If you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, you should hire a DUI attorney who has experience in the Florida court system and Florida DUI law not just any DUI attorney. DUI arrests can be very stressful and confusing to drivers, especially if there are two different states seeking to enforce punishment. Without competent legal counsel, a driver may be subjected to severe penalties and forced to travel between two states to protect their rights in court. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. we provide competent legal representation at every phase of a DUI case. With our help you may not even have to attend a single court proceeding. We will navigate your case through the court system and aggressively challenge your DUI charges at every phase of the case. To find out more about how we represent clients accused of DUI, contact us today to speak with a DUI attorney at our firm. DUI With Bodily Injury DUI is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly, especially if there was an accident involving either property damage or bodily injury to a third person. In addition to DUI charges, the driver may also be liable for property damage or personal injuries that were caused by the accident. If you have been charged with a DUI that has caused either property damage or bodily injury, you should contact a DUI attorney for legal advice right away. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving a vehicle that caused serious bodily injury to another person, you may be charged with a third degree felony DUI. The injured party could be either a passenger in your car, a pedestrian on the street, or a person in a separate vehicle. If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and fined up to $5,000. In addition, you will have a felony conviction on your record. In order to be convicted of either DUI with property damage or DUI with serious bodily injury, the prosecutor must show that the driver actually caused the accident and was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. For instance, if the driver was under the influence of drugs or 16 Call: Web:

17 alcohol but did not cause the accident, the driver may not be held liable for the bodily injury or property damage. However, it is important to remember that the driver may still face DUI penalties if convicted under these circumstances. DUI With Property Damage If the accident caused property damage but no serious bodily injury, you may not have to face felony DUI charges. In most circumstances, a DUI charge with property damage is charged as a misdemeanor under Florida DUI law. However, DUI s involving property damage are still serious offenses which should not be taken lightly. If convicted, you may still be sentenced to prison and have to pay hefty fines. In addition, you may be required to pay restitution for the property damage caused by the accident. In all DUI cases we carefully review every detail of the case to identify possible defenses for our clients. We aggressively scrutinize the initial stop by law enforcement, alcohol or drug testing results, witness testimony, sobriety testing procedures and any other piece of evidence that the prosecutor may try to use against our client. Furthermore, in DUI cases involving accidents, a driver may appear to be intoxicated due to the trauma and stress that the accident caused, resulting in a false DUI accusation. For instance, a car accident can cause a driver to have bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, anxiety, and problems balancing or standing all of which can significantly impact a driver s performance on field sobriety exercises. Our DUI lawyers will aggressively use these and any other method of defense to help our clients. Manslaughter DUI DUI manslaughter (vehicular manslaughter) is the most severe offense of which a drunk driver can be convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, if convicted, the driver may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter, you should contact a DUI defense attorney right away to discuss your legal options. Under Florida DUI law, you may be guilty of DUI manslaughter if you drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cause a car accident that results in the death of an innocent person. The death of the innocent person does not have to occur immediately after the accident. If a person is injured in the accident and then later dies from the injures, the defendant may be charged with DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter may be charged as either a second or first degree felony depending on the facts of the case. Under Florida DUI law, the defendant will be charged with a second degree felony unless there are grounds to increase the charge to a first degree felony. For instance, if the defendant fled the scene of the accident after it happened, the prosecutor may escalate the charge to a first degree felony. If convicted of a first degree felony the defendant may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $10,000. On the other hand, if convicted of a second degree felony the driver will face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a $10,000 fine. 17 Call: Web:

18 In DUI manslaughter cases, the prosecutor must show that the driver caused or contributed to the accident and that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. In DUI cases involving accidents, a driver may be wrongfully accused because they appear to be intoxicated due to the trauma and stress that the accident caused. For instance, a car accident can cause a driver to have bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, anxiety, and problems balancing or standing all of which can significantly impact an individual s performance on field sobriety exercises and appear intoxicated. DUI PENALTIES Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in Florida. If convicted of DUI you can be subjected to harsh penalties that create a devastating impact on your life. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact Florida Law Advisers to speak with a DUI attorney at our firm right away. An attorney at our firm can help you fight the charges by developing a comprehensive legal strategy based on the specific facts of your case. Our attorneys have years of experience helping clients overcome DUI charges, and may be able to use their skill and experience to get the charges against you dropped. For answers to your questions or to begin preparing for your defense, contact us today to schedule a free confidential consultation. First Offense Up to 9 months in jail Fines up to $1,000 DUI counseling Vehicle Impoundment for 10 days License suspension for up to 1 year 50 hours of community service Probation for up to 1 year Vehicle ignition interlock device installation Possible deportation if driver is a non-u.s. citizen Second Offense (within 5 years) Up to 12 months in jail Fines up to $2,000 Mandatory DUI counseling Vehicle Impoundment for 30 days License suspension for up to 5 years 50 hours of community service Probation for up to 1 year Vehicle ignition interlock device installation for up to 2 years 18 Call: Web:

19 Possible deportation if driver is a non-u.s. citizen Third Offense (within 10 years) May be charged as a felony offense Up to 5 years in prison Fines up to $5,000 Mandatory DUI counseling Vehicle Impoundment for 90 days License suspension for up to 10 years 50 hours of community service Probation for up to 5 years Vehicle ignition interlock device installation for a minimum of 2 years Possible deportation if driver is a non-u.s. citizen The penalties described above are general in nature, DUI penalties will vary based on the specific facts of each case. There are many circumstances in DUI arrests which may either increase or decrease the penalties for a DUI conviction. For instance, a DUI case that involves injury to another person may result in more severe penalties than those listed above. For information or advice on your specific case contact us to speak with a DUI attorney. Ignition Interlock Device In many DUI convictions, the court will require the driver to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in each vehicle owned by the driver. The device measures the amount of alcohol in one s breath and will prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected. The device can be an inconvenience and a big expense for drivers. An ignition interlock device commonly used by Tampa Bay area law enforcement is the Alcolock, manufactured by Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp. The IID is connected to the car s ignition and will prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver s breath. The device is very similar to a breathalyzer test; the driver will blow into the device and the IID will measure the amount of alcohol in the breath. If the blood alcohol content is above the set limit, the device will prevent the engine from starting. In addition, the device may require random breath samples while the engine is running. If the sample is not provided, an alarm will sound and continue until either the engine is turned off or a proper breath reading is provided. Furthermore, all data captured by the IID is recorded and made available to law enforcement via the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The driver is required to pay all costs associated with the installation and maintenance of the IID. The device must be installed in every vehicle that is either solely or jointly owned by the driver not just the driver s primary vehicle. The costs for the IID include a $12 interlock fee, $75 installation fee, $ Call: Web:

20 monthly monitoring fee, and either a $100 refundable deposit or a $5 monthly insurance charge for the device. When an Ignition Interlock Device is Required First DUI conviction: If the driver s blood alcohol content was over 0.15, or if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of arrest, the device must be installed for at least 6 months. Otherwise, the device will not be installed on the first conviction of DUI unless the court exercises their right to do so. Second DUI conviction: Device must be installed for a minimum of one year. However, if the driver s blood alcohol content was over 0.15, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, installation will be required for at least 2 years. Third DUI conviction: Installed for a minimum of 2 years. Fourth or subsequent conviction: Installed for a minimum of 5 years. Ignition interlock device installation is just one penalty drivers can face when convicted of DUI. Drunk driving in Florida is a serious offense, which can have devastating consequences. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. for help. Our DUI attorneys have years of experience in helping clients beat their DUI charges. We carefully scrutinize every detail of each case to identify any potential errors by police, violations of constitutional rights, mishandling of evidence, or sloppy police work that we can use to help our clients. Each DUI case is unique, so we carefully develop a comprehensive legal strategy that is individualized for each client. DUI Counseling Under Florida DUI law (Florida Statute ), if your license is suspended for drunk driving or you are convicted of DUI you may be required to complete a substance abuse education course (DUI school). At Florida law advisers, P.A., we take a comprehensive approach to defending clients. We assist our clients in all aspects of a DUI case, including helping our clients complete the required substance abuse education course. Below is some of the general information you may need regarding DUI school. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact us to speak with a DUI attorney for individualized advice based on the specific facts of your case. If your driver s license was suspended due to a DUI arrest, you must complete the substance abuse education course in order to get your license reinstated. DUI school can include a certified evaluation session, a substance abuse education course, and additional counseling or treatment if recommended by the counselor. You must complete all of the DUI school requirements within 90 days of enrolling in the course. If you fail to satisfy all the conditions of the course within 90 days of enrollment you, must start from the beginning and take the entire course over again. 20 Call: Web:

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