If you have been charged with a drinking and driving-related offense, you deserve an attorney by your side who has experience both prosecuting charged individuals and defending clients in criminal matters. Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary has been involved in over 350 jury trials in the course of her more than 28 year career as a licensed attorney. Beryl Thompson-McClary has the skill to ensure your constitutional rights are protected and that you will receive the best disposition possible for your particular situation.
A charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida can be devastating. This offense is also commonly referred to as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Many states use these two terms in many different ways. For example, some states may use the term DUI to only apply to underage drinkers, and use the term DWI to apply to individuals 21 years of age and older, or vice versa. However, in Florida, the law uses the term DUI to apply to all drinking-related offenses that involve intoxication and operating a motor vehicle, both as to alcohol and controlled substances.
There are quite a few different DUI charges charges in Florida with varying degrees, all depending upon the particular facts of the situation, and whether or not the current charge is against someone with previous DUI convictions.
General DUI Law in Florida
Under Florida law, for individuals age 21 and over, a person is guilty of committing a DUI when the person has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, and the person is driving or has actual physical control of a vehicle within the state of Florida. If the blood-alcohol content of the impaired individual is .15 or greater, the consequences are more severe.
If the individual is under the age of 21, the blood-alcohol content level is much lower, at .02. Florida law is much stricter on underage individuals who are under the influence and driving a motor vehicle. The reason for this is that Florida law is meant to act as a deterrence, to discourage underage individuals from (1) drinking under the age of 21; and (2) from getting behind the wheel with even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system. If the blood-alcohol content of the impaired underage drinker is .05 or greater, stricter penalties may be imposed.
It is very important to understand that while most DUI charges will involve alcohol, you could be charged with a DUI offense if you are under the influence of any controlled substance, including prescription medications. This is surprising to many people, so be aware that Florida law does not limit DUIs to only alcohol-related driving offenses.
A Breakdown of the Different DUI Charges and Related Penalties
The chart below outlines each of the different DUI charges as well as the range of punishment for each charge if the charge results in a conviction.
RANGE OF PUNISHMENT
|First DUI Offense||Pay a fine of at least $500, but not more than $1,000 and imprisonment of not more than 6 months|
|Second DUI Offense||Pay a fine of at least $1,000, but not more than $2,000 and imprisonment of not more than 9 months, in addition to the potential imposition of an ignition interlock device for at least 1 year if the convicted individual qualifies for a permanent or restricted driver’s license|
|Third DUI Offense||(1) If the third offense is WITHIN 10 years after the previous DUI offense, the individual commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 and imprisonment of not more than 5 years, in addition to mandatory imposition of an ignition interlock device for at least 2 years if the convicted individual qualifies for a permanent or restricted driver’s license
(2) If the third offense is MORE than 10 years after the previous DUI offense, the punishment is to pay a fine of at least $2,000, but not more than $5,000 and imprisonment of not more than 12 months, in addition to the potential imposition of an ignition interlock device for at least 1 year if the convicted individual qualifies for a permanent or restricted driver’s license
|Fourth DUI Offense||Regardless of when the prior offense occurred, the convicted individual commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine of at least $2,000, but not to exceed $5,000, and imprisonment of not more than 5 years|
|DUI Offense involving damage to property||The convicted individual commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, and imprisonment of not more than 1 year|
|DUI offense involving serious bodily injury to another person||The convicted individual commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000, and imprisonment of not more than 5 years|
|DUI offense involving death of another person or unborn quick child (viable fetus)||The convicted individual commits DUI manslaughter, a felony in the second degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000, and imprisonment of not more than 15 years|
|Underage DUI||The penalties and punishments are basically the same as for the adult DUI charges described above|
Resisting A Breathalyzer or Blood Test
If you are simply pulled over in Florida for a suspected DUI, but not arrested, you are not required to take a breathalyzer test. However, if you are arrested after the officer has determined that probable cause exists that you are in fact under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while having control of a motor vehicle, you are not forced to take a breathalyzer or blood test, but your refusal to do so will result in mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.
Further, Florida adopts the implied consent rule, where you are essentially consenting to take a breathalyzer or blood test after you have been arrested on probable cause of a DUI offense. But, recent United States Supreme Court case law indicates that a warrant may be required for law enforcement to conduct a blood test, especially in cases where the charged individual is unconscious at the time probable cause exists and the individual is taken into custody or to a hospital.
Why You Need an Attorney
As you can see from reading the information on this page, DUI/DWI law in Florida can be very confusing. It is essential that you seek competent legal counsel to represent you as soon as possible so that your constitutional rights are protected. As a rule of thumb, you should always be polite, say very little to the police officer, admit to nothing, and ask to either speak with your attorney or that you will not speak to the police without the presence of your attorney. Beryl Thompson-McClary can protect your rights by ensuring the police have followed the rules. She will review your file extensively, including police reports, and if she finds that a police officer has not acted in accordance with your constitutional rights, there may be grounds for her to file a motion to suppress certain evidence.
Contact Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
Whether you have been charged with a drinking-related offense, or if you have another legal matter you would like to discuss, contact Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary and allow her to review your case. Beryl Thompson-McClary’s unique perspective of being both a criminal defense attorney and having former experience as a prosecutor will provide you with representation that you simply cannot get from many criminal defense firms. Don’t face a DUI charge alone. Have Beryl Thompson-McClary by your side. To schedule your free consultation with Beryl Thompson-McClary, contact her by calling (888) 640-2999, or you may contact her online and she will get back to you as soon as possible.