Get Answers to Common Questions Now
Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.
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What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida?
Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws of anywhere in the nation. After being arrested for DUI you are in for quite possibly the fight of your life. You need to be educated and fully prepared for what lies ahead, that’s why I urge you,before you speak to ANY lawyer about your DUI, read my FREE consumer guide: “It’s Not Just A Traffic Ticket: A Six-Pack of Questions That Can Cause a Hangover after a DUI Arrest”. This FREE book provides information on how to hire a DUI lawyer in Florida and answers a six pack of questions that cause a hangover after a DUI arrest.
When you are arrested for DUI, these are the penalties you are facing:
- $500 — $1,000 fine
- Up to 6 months in jail; 9 months if blood/breath alcohol level .15 or higher, or minor children were in the car
- Up to 1 year probation
- Mandatory 50 hours of community service
- Six-month license revocation for blood/breath alcohol level of .08 and above
- One-year license revocation for refusal to submit to breath, blood or urine test
- 10-day vehicle impoundment
- $1,000 — $2,000 fine
- Up to 9 months in jail; 1 year with BAL of .15 or higher, or minor children in vehicle
- If second convicted within 5 years of the first, mandatory 10 days jail
- 30-day vehicle impoundment
- Minimum license revocation of 6 months
- 5-year license revocation if convicted within 5 years of your first DUI offense
- $1,000 — $2,000 fine; or fine of $2,000 — $5,000 if convicted within 10 years
- Up to 12-months jail if conviction is more than 10 years
- Minimum jail sentence of 30 days if convicted within 10 years
- Felony DUI if within 10 years of prior conviction
- 10-year license revocation if convicted within 10 years of second DUI offense; may apply for hardship reinstatement after two years
- 90-day vehicle impoundment if within 10 years of first conviction
- $2,000 fine (minimum)
- Up to 5 years in prison, or as provided in § 775.084, Florida Statutes as a habitual/violent offender
- Mandatory permanent license revocation; no hardship reinstatement
As you can see, if you have been charged with a DUI in Miami, the cost of even a first offense can be extremely damaging and harmful to your bank account, liberty and future. Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country, even for first-time offenders of DUI.
Not to mention, after a Florida DUI conviction, you are likely to see some of the unseen, or collateral consequences of a DUI, starting with a considerable increase in your auto insurance rates. To make matters worse, a DUI conviction could affect your ability to get to work, prevent you from getting certain jobs in the future, impact your ability to get a loan, make you ineligible for scholarships, obtain a professional license or even get you fired from your current job. You may be able to avoid all of this by fighting your DUI charge in Miami.
Seek the help of a Miami DUI defense attorney, you may be able to build a defense to your DUI and better your current circumstances, avoiding many of the harsh penalties associated with DUI in Florida.
I welcome the opportunity to see you for a confidential consultation to discuss your case, goals and potential defenses. Call, (305) 707-7345, to schedule a consultation, or by fill out my DUI Intake Form.
I invite you to contact me to see how I can help.
I need to drive, how I do I waive formal review hearing and request eligibility review to obtain a hardship (business purposes permit)?
Miami is a tough place to get around if you do not have a driver’s license. Even though it’s a major city with an expansive metropolitan area, public transportation is limited and hugely unreliable. Thankfully, in July of 2013 a change in Florida’s administrative suspension laws allows for you to request eligibility review to obtain a business purpose permit within 10 days of a DUI arrest.
In order to request eligibility review, you need to waive your right to a hearing before the Bureau of Administrative Reviews of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. By waiving your right to fight the suspension of your driver’s license, you will not be able to challenge the suspension and the suspension will remain on your driving record.
If you are arrested for DUI and are considering waiving your right to a formal review hearing to seek eligibility review, I cannot urge you enough to speak with a Miami DUI attorney before you do so you can be advised of the pros, cons and potential consequences of waiving your right to fight the suspension of your driver’s license.
May I refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test if required by law enforcement?
In Florida, you do not have a right to refuse such tests, you only have the option to do so. By accepting driving privileges in the State of Florida, you are deemed to have consented to to submit to such tests. You may refuse such tests as long as you were not involved in an accident involving serious bodily injury or death. While you may refuse such tests, there are consequences for doing so as driving is a privilege and not a right. Consequences for refusing to submit to such tests allows the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend your driver’s license for a period one (1) year for your first refusal, or eighteen (18) months if you have previously refused. Evidence of your refusal may be used against you in a criminal proceeding.
How many drinks make you DUI?
Then answer to that question really depends on the person consuming the alcohol, their tolerance and a host of other factors such as size, fatigue, food consumed, type of alcohol consumed, et cetera. The prosecutor does not only prove guilt in a drunk driving case by showing the person had a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, but also by showing that person was impaired to the point that their normal faculties were affected. Therefore, one person may be DUI by consuming only one drink whereas someone else may not be DUI after consuming multiple drinks in a given time period.
How do I know the breath test was functioning properly?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has laid out regulations that departments must follow when administering and maintaining breath-testing equipment such as the Intoxilyzer 8000. These regulations prescribe how and when a test should be administered, how the machine has to be calibrated, maintained and examined and what certifications a breath-test operator must possess in order to do this.
It is critical and downright mandatory that any defense attorney examine, challenge and research the reliability and accuracy of any breath testing machine used in your case. The prosecutor relies on breath testing results to prove your guilt in court. An experienced DUI defense attorney will carefully examine the machine and procedures used to maintain and administer tests pursuant to FDLE’s rules and regulations to make sure that it was working properly. Failing to abide by FDLE regulations can lead to the breath test results being suppressed and not being used against you in court.
What is implied consent law in Florida?
By driving in the state of Florida, you have agreed to any breath or sobriety test required by Florida law (it’s on your Florida driver’s license). Once the arresting officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence, they will request that you take a breath test. If you refuse to take the breath test, the officer must then read you Florida Implied Consent Warnings.
These warnings will inform you that you are under arrest for driving under the influence and that you are being offered a breath test in order to determine the alcohol content of your blood. Should you refuse to take a breath test (or urine test for controlled substances), the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will suspend your driving privilege for 6 months for driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level (DUBAL) or for 1 year if you refuse, and 18 months if you have previously been suspended for refusing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.
If you are not given these warnings by the officer and you refused to submit to a test, then you have not been advised of your rights under Florida’s implied consent law and there will be arguments that can be made in an attempt to keep the evidence of your refusal out of court.
If I win my administrative review hearing, will this mean that my criminal case will be dropped?
No. There are two (2) separate parts of a DUI case. The first part is conducted and overseen by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and relates only to the suspension of your driving privileges. The second part is prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office in either County or Circuit court. The outcome in one arena has no bearing on the other.
How long will my license be suspended?
If you are unable to invalidate the suspension of your driver’s license at the administrative hearing your driving privileges may be suspended for an extended period of time. If you have refused to submit to a lawful breath, blood or urine test, your license will be administratively suspended for one (1) year for a first refusal, or for eighteen (18) months if you have previously refused such tests. If you take a test and had an unlawful blood alcohol level (.08% or higher), your license will be suspended for six (6) months for a first offense, or for one (1) year if your driving privilege has been suspended previously.
How can they prove I was DUI, I wasn’t even drunk?
To prove you are guilty of driving under the influence, the prosecutor does not have to necessarily prove you were ‘drunk’ but rather that you were driving (or in actual physical control) and were under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances to the point that your normal faculties were impaired.
The prosecutor will intend to prove you are guilty of DUI by showing the jury your driving pattern, your behavior, signs of impairment and officer’s observations, your performance on roadside sobriety exercises, your breath reading or through your refusal to submit to tests as consciousness of guilt.
Florida law establishes presumptions that go along with the breath reading that the jury may infer someone was either under the influence or not under the influence. However, that evidence can be overcome through other evidence. For example, if you blow below a .05, the law says the jury can assume that you are not under the influence. Remember alcohol affects everyone differently and you may be in trouble if there is other damaging evidence that the prosecutor can use to show the jury that you were in fact under the influence to the point that your normal faculties were impaired. On the other hand, someone who has a breath reading of .08 or above is to be presumed under the influence according to Florida law, but that person may be able to show other evidence (i.e. performance on roadside sobriety exercises, video or lack of a poor driving pattern) to rebut that they are NOT under the influence.
How can I fight the administrative suspension of my driver’s license?
When your life is turned upside down as a result of a DUI arrest, you must act quickly as time is of the essence. You have ten (10) days to file a notice to appeal your administrative suspension. Your DUI attorney will be able to file the notice for you and request a driving permit to extend your driving privileges for another month. At the formal review hearing your attorney will be able to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by subpoenaing the officers and challenging all aspects of the DUI arrest, from the stop itself to the procedures and equipment used by law enforcement.