DUI Laws

Florida DUI / DWI Laws

The latest statistics given by the Department of Motor Vehicles in Florida showed that a significant number of people were arrested for DUI in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties:

Robert Hambrick Photo 1According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles over 34,000 people either plead guilty or are found guilty of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in Florida every year. The number of DUI arrests is even greater. In a recent year there were 4,107 DUI Convictions in Tampa and 2,760 DUI Convictions in the cities of Largo, Clearwater, St Petersburg.

Just like any other crime some of the people who are arrested for DUI are not in fact guilty of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving. Sometimes police make mistakes. Sometimes bad driving, an odor of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests and failed breath tests can be explained because of other factors that do not include being under the influence of alcohol to the extent that one’s normal faculties were impaired while driving. That’s why it’s always important to have an experienced Largo criminal defense lawyer look at all of the facts of your case to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against you.

Even if there is sufficient evidence of some impairment while you were driving an excellent St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney will do his best to find the best possible outcome, arguing for a reduction of your DUI case to reckless driving, arguing for for a breath test to be thrown out by the judge if the calibration of the breathylyzer machine fails to meet the standards of FDLE and most importantly to make sure that you are not punished by jail time nor your driving priviledges taken away.

If you’ve been placed under arrest for DUI or you are under investigation for any charge involing impairment while driving such as DUI manslaughter charges you need to hire the best Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney for your needs.

Courtroom photoIt’s important to remember that if you are pulled over and an officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, the officer may ask you to take a blood, urine or breath test you are required to comply. Florida has what is known as an “Implied Consent Law” which in short states that when you sign your drivers license you have agreed to take these tests upon request. You need to really think hard before you decide to take or not take the test. In my Blog you’ll find some information about the unreliability of the breathalyzer which FDLE still uses. Yet you must counter this knowledge with the fact that in Florida a refusal to take any of the tests will result in an immediate suspension for one year. A second refusal will result in an 18 month suspension. Further, Florida law mandates that any driver convicted of a second DUI have an Ingnition Interlock device installed in their vehicle. A judge may order an Interlock installed on first convictions depending on circumstances. Read the details of the Florida Ignition Interlock program.

Florida Penalties for DUI First Conviction Fine – $250 to $500 Community Service – 50 Hours Probation – Not more than 1 Year Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days DUI School – 12 Hours

Clearwater Florida Courtroom photoTo help with any questions you may have about DUI, here are the most significant Florida DUI Statutes in a manageable format for your review. You’ll find below how each conviction for DUI is punished. A Largo Criminal Defense Attorney will find that the courts look to three things for punishment. First, how many prior DUI convictions does the Defendant already have; any prior DUI will be used to enhance the sentence with more jail, probation and less likelihood of obtaining a hardship license. When a Defendant has multiple DUIs a felony will be filed with additional punishment. Second, the sentencing Judge will look to the BAC or Blood level of the Defendant at the time of driving. The higher the BAC the higher the fine and the amount of jail the Defendant will receive as well as alcohol counseling. Third, the circumstances of the driving will be looked at by the Court to determine if there was an accident and if there was an injury or death as a result of the accident. Clearly if you have a DUI in Tampa Bay or Pinellas you need to find a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible who will defend your rights.

Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Hambrick’s Blog: Your Best Legal Help Advice & Counsel for DUI — A Guide to DUI Investigation & Evidence Evaluation DUI Arrest Dismissal or DUI Trial: From a Seasoned St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas and Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer. My DUI BLog has plenty of fresh content concerning DUI investigations in Tampa Bay, DUI stops in Pinellas, check point stops in Clearwater, how field sobriety tests should be administered and why the subjective standards of DUI law enforcement are often in error, failures of lab tests, DUI breath test inaccuracies, DUI intoxilizer machine failures, FDLE’s failure to adequately calibrate DUI breath testing machines. It’s your best resource of DUI law in CLearwater, Pinellas & all of Tampa Bay, Florida and how that law effects DUI arrests, prosecution, criminal procedure and trial by jury.

courtroom-gavelLooking below you’ll find the DUI crimes enumerated, the DUI fine schedules for each offense, the mandatory minimum amount of jail for each offense, the probation required, the DUI school requirements and the requirements under the statutes to get a business purposes license:

DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances). s. 316.193, F.S. Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven.

Fine Schedule s. 316.193(2)(a)-(b), F.S. First Conviction: Not less than $500, or more than $1,000. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000. Second Conviction: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $2,000, or more than $4,000. Third Conviction More than 10 years from second: Not less than $2,000, or more than $5,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $4,000. Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not less than $2,000.

Community Service – s. 316.193 (6)(a), F.S. First Conviction: Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required

DUI School Requirements – s. 316.193 F.S., s. 322.271, F.S., s. 322.291, F.S. First Conviction: Must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement. Customers who wait out revocation period before reinstatement need only show proof of enrollment or completion to become re-licensed. If customer enrolls and is reinstated after revocation period expires, failure to complete the DUI school within 90 days after reinstatement will result in license cancellation; the driver cannot then be re-licensed until DUI school is completed. Second Conviction in 5 Years (5-Year Revocation) or Third Conviction in 10 Years (10-Year Revocation): Customer must complete DUI school following conviction. See requirements in 13C and 13D respectively. DUI Manslaughter With No Prior DUI Related Conviction: (Permanent Revocation): Must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement. Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide: (Minimum 3 year Revocation): See 13F Customers Who Wait Until Revocation Period Expires: Must enroll in DUI school and pass the driver license examinations to be re-licensed. Failure to complete the school within 90 days after such reinstatement will result in cancellation of the license until the school is completed. Reckless Driving: If the court has reasonable cause to believe that the use of alcohol, chemical or controlled substances contributed to a violation of reckless driving, the person convicted of reckless driving must complete DUI school if ordered by the court. Treatment: Treatment resulting from a psychosocial evaluation may not be waived without a supporting psychosocial evaluation by a court appointed agency with access to the original evaluation.

Probation – s. 316.193 (5)(6), F.S. First conviction, total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year.

Business Purposes Only/Employment Purposes Only Reinstatements-s. 322.271, F.S. and s. 322.28, F.S. First Conviction: Must complete DUI school, apply to department for hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for up to six months for BAL of .15. Second Convictions (or more): No hardship license except as provided below. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year, or for two years if BAL is greater than .20. Second Conviction Within 5 Years: (5-Year Revocation) May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after one year. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in cancellation of the hardship license). Applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year or for two years if BAL is greater than .15. Third Conviction Within 10 Years: (10-Year Revocation) May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after two years. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in the cancellation of the hardship license). Applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for two years. DUI Manslaughter With No Prior DUI Related Conviction: (Permanent Revocation): May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years have expired from date of revocation or expired from date of term of incarceration provided the following requirements have been met: 1. Has not been arrested for a drug-related offense for at least 5 years prior to the hearing; 2. Has not driven a motor vehicle without a license for at least 5 years prior to the hearing; 3. Has been alcohol and drug-free for at least 5 years prior to the hearing; and 4. Must complete a DUI school and must be supervised under the DUI program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in cancellation of the hardship license). 5. Ignition interlock device required for two years. Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: (3 Year Revocation): May immediately apply for hardship reinstatement hearing. Must complete DUI school or advanced driver improvement course.

Imprisonment- s. 316.193 (2)(a) 2, 4(b), (6)(j), F.S. At court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment. First Conviction: Not more than 6 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months. Second Conviction: Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. Third Conviction: If third conviction within 10 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. If third conviction more than 10 years, imprisonment for not more than 12 months. Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not more than 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as habitual/violent offender.

Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI-s. 322.271, F.S. and s. 322.28,F.S. A. First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year. B. Second Conviction Within 5 Years: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year. Other 2nd offenders same as “A” above. C. Third Conviction Within 10 Years of the second conviction: minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligable for a hardship reinstatement after two years. D. Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred) and Murder with Motor Vehicle: Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement. E. DUI Manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. If no prior DUI related convictions, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years. F. Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: Minimum 3-year revocation. DUI Serious Bodily Injury having prior DUI conviction is same as “B-D” above.

Impoundment of Immobilization of Vehicle – s. 316.193 (6), F.S. Unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation: First conviction = 10 days; second conviction within 5 years = 30 days; third conviction within 10 years = 90 days. Impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration. The court may dismiss the order of impoundment of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant if they are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.

Administrative Suspension of Persons Under the Age of 21 for Driving With an Alcohol Level .02 or Above Section 322.2616, Florida Statutes, authorizes law enforcement officers having probable cause to believe that a motor vehicle is being driven by or is in the actual physical control of a person who is under the age of 21 while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or who has any alcohol level may lawfully detain this person and may request them to submit to a test to determine the alcohol level. This violation is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, nor does being detained under this statute constitute an arrest. First Suspension for Persons Under the Age of 21 With An Alcohol Level .02 or above: 6 months. Second or Subsequent Suspensions 1 year. First Suspension for Refusal to Submit to Breath Test: 1 year. Second or Subsequent Suspensions for Refusal: 18 months. The suspension is effective immediately. If the breath or blood alcohol level is .05 or higher the suspension shall remain in effect until completion of a substance abuse evaluation and course. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit effective 12 hours after issuance which is valid for 10 days, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.

Administrative Suspension Law – s. 322.2615, F.S., s. 316.193, F.S., s. 316.1932, F.S. First Suspension for Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Level (.08 or above): 6 months. Second or Subsequent Suspensions for Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Level (.08 or above): 1 year. First Suspension for Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine or Blood Test: 1 year. Second or Subsequent Suspensions for Refusal: 18 months. The suspension is effective immediately The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit valid for 10 days from the date of arrest, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.

Administrative Disqualification Law First Disqualification for Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle With an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level (.04 or above): 1 year disqualification driving a motor vehicle while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance: 1 year disqualification First Disqualification for Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine or Blood Test Arising from the Operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle: 1-year disqualification Second or Subsequent Disqualification for Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine, or Blood Test Arising from the Operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle: permanently disqualified. Second or Subsequent Disqualification of driving a motor vehicle while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance: Permanently disqualification The disqualification is effective immediately upon refusal of the breath, urine or blood test or determination that the driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, while operating or in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit which is valid for 10 days from the date of arrest or disqualification, provided the driver is otherwise eligible. However, the permit does not authorize the operation of a commercial motor vehicle for the first 24 hours of disqualification. Review Hearings For Administrative Suspensions And Disqualifications Sections s. 322.2615 and s. 322.64, F.S., authorize the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles upon the request of the driver to conduct formal and informal reviews for the purpose of sustaining, amending or invalidating administrative suspensions and disqualifications. The decisions of the department shall not be considered in any trial for a violation of s. 316.193, F.S., nor shall any written statement submitted by a person in his request for review be admissible into evidence against him in any such trial. The disposition of any related criminal proceedings shall not affect a suspension/disqualification. Business or Employment Reinstatement: 1.Suspension for Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Level of .08 or above or Refusal: Must show proof of enrollment in DUI school and apply for an administrative hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. For unlawful alcohol level must serve 30 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. For first refusal must serve 90 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. No hardship reinstatement for two or more refusals. 2. Suspension – Persons Under Age of 21 Driving With a Breath Alcohol Level of .02 or above: Must complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education course before hardship reinstatement. .05 or higher, must complete DUI program prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. Must serve 30 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. Hardship License Prohibited: 1. Florida law prohibits any hardship reinstatement upon 2nd or subsequent suspension for test refusal or if driver has been convicted of (DUI) section 316.193, F.S., two or more times. 2. Persons disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle cannot obtain a hardship license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Adjudication and Sentencing – s. 316.656, F.S., s. 322.2615 F.S. Penalty to be Imposed by Court: Judges are prohibited from deviating from the administrative suspension/revocation periods mandated by statute. The courts are prohibited from withholding adjudication in DUI cases; or from reducing a DUI charge if the defendant’s blood alcohol was .15 or greater.

Conditions for Release of Persons Arrested for DUI-s. 316.193 (9), F.S. The person is no longer under the influence and; The person’s normal faculties are no longer impaired The person’s blood/breath alcohol level is lower than 0.05; or Eight hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.

DUI Misdemeanor Conviction: (Accident Involving Property Damage or Personal Injury)-s. 316.193 (3), F.S. Any person who causes property damage or personal injury to another while driving under the influence is guilty of a First Degree Misdemeanor (not more than $1,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment).

DUI Felony Conviction: (Repeat Offenders or Accidents Involving Serious Bodily Injury)-s. 316.193 (2),(3) F.S. Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment). Any person who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is guilty of a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment) or if habitual/violent felony offender as provided in s. 775.084, F.S.

Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide-s. 316.193 (3), F.S. DUI/Manslaughter: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment). DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of DUI Manslaughter who knew/should have known accident occurred; and failed to give information or render aid is guilty of a First Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment). Vehicular Homicide: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment). Vehicular Homicide/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of vehicular homicide who left the scene of an accident is guilty of a First Degree Felony (nor more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).