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About the Area

One of the most prevalent criminal issues facing Florida residents today is drunk driving and its associated offenses. Statistics show that more than 11,000 people are arrested every year in Florida for a drunk driving-related offense, and the charges that can accompany such a situation are numerous in nature.

The first thing you need to do if you are arrested for such an offense is to contact Anabelle Dias P.A. for a full consultation. The firm is available 24 hours per day, and you can rest assured that you will have flexible payment options that will work within your budget. Below are a few examples of the types of offenses that can be used to charge a defendant in Florida as well as the manner in which these charges are pursued.

Florida DUI/DWI Laws:

Any person can be charged with DUI in Florida if he or she is found to have a BAC of at least .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath while operating a motor vehicle.

The penalties for such an offense are serious as well. For a first offense, a convicted defendant faces a fine that ranges from $250 to $500, and the potential for up to six months in prison. For a second offense, the convicted defendant faces fines ranging between $500 and $1,000 as well as up to nine months in prison and the placement of an interlock ignition device on the defendant's car for a period of one year.

If a person is convicted of a third DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction faces a third-degree felony charge, which includes up to one year in prison and two years of placement of an interlock ignition device on the defendant's car at the defendant's sole expense.

Field Sobriety Testing in Florida

Field sobriety testing has come under much controversy all over the United States in recent years, and the issue generally centers on the refusal by the suspect to take part in these field testing procedures. Although many defendants have claimed that these field sobriety tests are unconstitutional, no definitive ruling has been made by the Supreme Court. Therefore, as of now, states have the right to enforce these procedures as they see fit.

Florida is one of the most aggressive states in the country in terms of punishing those suspects who refuse to take part in field sobriety testing. In 2002, the state legislature enacted a provision that charges a defendant with an additional misdemeanor count if he or she refuses field sobriety testing. The text of the statute is below:

"(The defendant)...shall also be told that if he/she refuses to submit to a lawful test of his/her breath and/or urine, and his/her driving privilege has been previously suspended for a prior refusal to submit to a lawful test of his/her breath, urine, or blood, he/she commits a misdemeanor in addition to any other penalties."

Suspended License

Like most states, Florida's statutes call for a defendant's driver's license to be suspended in several circumstances that surround a DUI arrest. A suspended license means that a person can not lawfully drive a vehicle, and if that person is found to be driving with a suspended license, a separate criminal charge will be filed. The following represents the usual timeframes for driver's license suspension when a person is involved with a DUI in Florida:

Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI-s. 322.271, F.S. and s. 322.28,F.S.

  • First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year.
  • 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.
  • Third Conviction Within 10 Years: Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 2 years. Other 3rd offenders same as "A" above; one conviction more than 10 years prior and one within 5 years, same as "B" above.
  • Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred and Murder with Motor Vehicle: Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement.
  • DUI Manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. If no prior DUI related convictions, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years.
  • 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.

Defendants Under 21 - Fines and Penalties

Florida makes it tough for those defendants under the age of 21 who are arrested for any DUI-related offense. Basically, the legal standards for such a charge are lower, and the penalties are generally more severe. Below are excerpts from the Florida administrative suspension statutes relating to those under the age of 21 charged with DUI in Florida:

  • 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. The fines and other penalties for DUI in Florida for those under 21 are similar to those "adult" defendants over the age limit.

Vehicular Manslaughter Offense in Florida

Vehicular manslaughter is the most serious DUI-related offense in Florida, and it is treated as such in regards to the penalties imposed upon a conviction. The statute and sentencing guidelines are clear, and they are explained below.

Florida statutes provide that any person who is found to be operating a vehicle under the influence and that this operation causes the death of another human being shall be deemed to have committed:

  • A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  • A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:
  • At the time of the crash, the person knew, or should have known, that the crash occurred; and
  • The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.

A felony in the second degree is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, and conviction of a felony in the first degree can carry a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison or even a life sentence in certain circumstances.

As you will see, these are serious charges, and need to be handled and defended by serious and capable attorneys. If any of these situations apply to you, you need to contact Anabelle Dias P.A. as soon as possible for a consultation. The partners of the firm are available 24 hours per day, and you need to understand that the longer you wait, the worse your situation can get before you get the help that you are entitled to under the Constitution.