The penalties for getting a DUI in Florida can be severe and can depend on the number of prior offenses and your blood alcohol level at the time you are charged. A schedule of penalties for DUI in Florida can be found at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website: www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/duilaws.html
As you can see, each conviction will bring more expensive fines and there are harsher penalties for a higher level of impairment or having a minor in the vehicle at the time you are pulled over.
There are more than just financial penalties for being convicted of a DUI in Florida. You can have your driver’s license suspended and potentially be sentenced to community service and/or jail time. In addition your vehicle can be impounded. DUI convictions can be registered against you as either as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances.
If you have multiple offenses or if you caused any injuries while you were driving, your penalty may be even greater. Your DUI conviction could even cost you your job as these convictions are made part of the public record. Some employers have strict rules regarding DUI’s and consider a DUI conviction grounds for termination.
A little known fact is that the field sobriety exercises are voluntary. When you are pulled over by a police officer and he or she asks you to take a field sobriety test you have the option to decline. If a police officer pulls you over under suspicion of DUI he or she already believes that you may have been drinking and driving. If you perform the field sobriety tests you risk giving them evidence to that effect. Some of these tests can be challenging even when sober.
In general, the more you say or do the more evidence an officer potentially has against you. Another important point to remember is that the field sobriety tests are subjective. If you consent to these tests the officer is able to interpret your actions and words. The officer already suspects you are intoxicated and can be liberal in his or her interpretation of how well you perform during the field sobriety tests. It is important to work with a lawyer who understands the implications of refusing the field sobriety tests as well as how to proceed if you did already submit to the tests.
If you are charged with a DUI you should seek legal assistance. A skilled attorney can help you understand the laws and your rights and may be able to help you avoid the penalties listed above. If, after consulting with an attorney, you decide to fight your DUI in Court, it is the prosecutions burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first thing you can do to help yourself is obtain skilled legal counsel. The second thing you need to do is give your attorney all the information pertinent to your case. An attorney won’t be able to help you to his or her best ability if they don’t have all the facts. Your attorney may see flaws in the arresting officer’s procedure, technical mistakes or equipment errors that may help to discredit the prosecution’s case. Challenging the way field tests were administered or the calibration of equipment are just a few tactics a skilled attorney might take.
Florida has a statute that considers bicycles, ATV’s and boats as vehicles. You can receive a DUI for driving or riding any of these vehicles while intoxicated. You can also be issued a DUI for falling asleep in the driver’s seat of your car with the keys in the ignition. Florida, like many other states uses a standard of “actual physical control”. Which means, “Having the means to initiate any movement of, and in close proximity to the operating controls of a vehicle.” This means that if your car is pulled over and you are asleep at the wheel due to intoxication, if your keys are close enough that you could easily start the car and drive you could be cited for a DUI.
The consequences of a DUI conviction can be staggering, but if you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, you do not have to face the charges alone. Turn to a skilled, experience, and licensed attorney. At Roy & Associates, our experienced DUI attorneys are ready to talk with you about your case. Call us at 561-729-0095 or schedule a consultation online.