The consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence (or “DUI”, sometimes also called “driving while intoxicated” or “DWI”) in Florida can be very serious and lasting.  Under Florida law, a person commits DUI by being in actual physical control of a vehicle when his or her “normal faculties” are “impaired” due to consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Impairment can be proved through evidence of the driver’s physical condition (unclear speech, bloodshot eyes, failing field sobriety tests). It is not necessary for the prosecution to show that the driver had a certain blood alcohol concentration (BAC), although if a breath or blood test was administered, most adult drivers are automatically presumed to be impaired if the results show a BAC above 0.08 grams per milliliter of blood (or 0.08 grams per 210 liters of breath) – commonly referred to as “0.08%”.

DUI Arrests in Florida

You can be arrested on suspicion of DUI by a law enforcement officer if:

  • You’re observed committing a traffic violation (failure to stop for a signal or stop sign, illegal turn, speeding) or you’re otherwise driving in an erratic manner (weaving, failing to control vehicle speed) and, once stopped, you exhibit physical signs of intoxication;
  • You exhibit physical signs of intoxication when stopped due to an accident, breakdown or at a safety or sobriety checkpoint, even if you appear to be driving normally.

A Florida DUI case is actually is made up of two separate parts. You will be tried for violating the criminal provisions of the vehicle code and will face a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles proceeding to suspend your driving privileges for 30 days.  This suspension is based solely on your arrest, even if you are later found not guilty. You may be able to obtain a “hardship” exemption, but generally you have only ten days to file a request.

Basic Consequences for First Time Offenders

For most drivers over 21 facing a first Florida DUI charge (provided the driver’s BAC was less than .15% and there was no minor child in the car), here are the possible consequences of a conviction:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Mandatory DUI education
  • Ignition interlock on vehicle
  • License suspension of at least six months

In addition, you may be unable to obtain automobile insurance, or may have your coverage cancelled.

Some Interesting DUI Facts

  • Because Florida law requires only that the driver be in “control” of a vehicle, you can be convicted of DUI even if you were arrested while in – even asleep in – a parked car.
  • Operating any “vehicle” while impaired can result in a DUI conviction. The term “vehicle” is broadly defined as any “device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks” and may therefore apply to other types of conveyances, such as golf carts and mopeds.
  • Don’t assume you’re in the clear if you’re on a private road. “Highway” is also defined broadly, and includes any privately owned way intended for use by “vehicular travel”.

The Importance of Legal Representation

If you’ve been charged with DUI, it is essential that you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.  No matter how strong the evidence against you may seem, having an aggressive advocate on your side can help you get the best possible outcome. Call Orner Law, LLC, at (561) 347-1336 for a no-obligation consultation today.