According to information published by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 32,684 people were arrested for DUIs in the state in 2017, including 1,899 in Orange County alone. Florida has strict drunk driving laws.
If you are arrested and charged with intoxicated driving, you will be facing the automatic suspension of your license and you may also be facing jail time.
Following an arrest for intoxicated driving, it is imperative that you consult with the best DUI defense lawyer in Orlando, FL as soon as possible. In this article, our DUI defense team provides a comprehensive overview of Florida’s DUI laws.
If you have any specific questions or concerns about your case, please do not hesitate to contact our law office for immediate assistance.
Florida Law: What is a DUI?
Under Florida state law (Florida Statutes § 316.193), driving under the influence is strictly prohibited. DUIs essentially come in two forms: drunk driving and drugged driving. In Florida, as in most of the rest of the country, the legal blood-alcohol concentration limit is 0.08.
If you get behind the wheel and your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving. Although, in certain circumstances, that maximum legal limit is even lower than that. Drivers who are under the age of 21 and drivers who are actively operating a commercial vehicle are held to reduced limits.
A motorist can also be charged with a DUI if they are under the influence of “any chemical substance” listed under Florida law or any “substance controlled” under Florida law — and they are affected to the extent that their normal abilities and faculties are impaired.
Drugged driving cases can be especially challenging and complex because it is more difficult for law enforcement to run a test that demonstrates ‘impairment’ under the law. If you have a drugged driving charge, you should discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer right away. Your lawyer will review the evidence against you and help you take action to protect your rights.
What are Your Obligations at a DUI Stop?
All Florida drivers should know what to do if they are pulled over on suspicion of intoxicated driving. Of course, your first duty is to stop your vehicle as quickly as it can be done in a reasonably safe manner.
Next, the responding law enforcement officer will likely ask you to provide your driver’s license, vehicle insurance, and proof of insurance coverage. You should remain compliant, and to the best of your ability you should provide the officer with this basic information.
While you have responsibilities, you also have important rights. Among other things, you are not required to make any statements; nor do you have to answer any invasive questions being asked by the police officer. All motorists have the right to remain silent. You should always use it. Do not try to talk your way out of trouble.
As far as DUI testing goes, you should know that Florida has an implied consent law on the books. When you obtained your license, you essentially gave your consent to submit to a breathalyzer test. In other words, you have to submit to a breath test or you can be arrested and charged with a DUI refusal. A first offense breath test refusal is a misdemeanor. If you have a charge of refusal in Central Florida, you should speak to an experienced Orlando DUI defense lawyer immediately.
Beyond the breath test, the responding officer may also request that you take other field sobriety tests. This is a request, and your participation is voluntary. Florida drivers are not required to submit to field sobriety tests. These types of tests are notoriously unreliable. In most cases, it is not in a driver’s interest to take a field sobriety test.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Florida
In Florida a drunk driving conviction carries harsh penalties. These penalties vary based on several different factors, the most important being the driver’s prior record of DUI offenses, or lack thereof. Specifically, DUI penalties in Florida are as follows:
- First Offense DUI: Up to $500 in fines, a 180-day license suspension, and up to 180 days in prison.
- Second Offense DUI: Up to $1,000 in fines, a 365-day license suspension, and up to 270 days in prison.
- Third Offense DUI: Up to $2,500 in fines, a five-year license suspension, and up to one year in prison.
To be clear, prior DUIs are not the only thing that matters. There are several other factors that could ‘aggravate’ a drunk driving offense and lead to increased punishment. If you were under the influence and were part of a serious accident, you committed other traffic violations at the same time, or a child was present in the vehicle, you may face heightened DUI penalties.
Florida DUI: Administrative Suspensions
Finally, drivers should be aware of Florida’s administrative suspension policies. As explained by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, being arrested and charged with a DUI will result in the immediate administrative suspension of your driver’s license. An administrative suspension is a civil penalty. This means you need to take proactive measures to protect your rights.
The state of Florida can and will suspend your license before it even gives you a hearing. If you have a DUI charge in Orlando, you have ten days from the date of your arrest to officially request a Formal Hearing Review. By submitting this request, you will be able to halt the administrative suspension of your license.
Get Help From Our Orlando Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys Today
At Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., our experienced Florida DUI defense lawyers are strong, committed advocates for our clients. If you have charges for intoxicated driving, you need professional legal support. For a free, no obligation initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We handle DUI cases in Orlando, Orange County, and throughout Central Florida.