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 happens if I’m convicted of DUI and I am underage?
If you are under 21 and found guilty of underage DUI, your penalties will include:
- Mandatory six (6) month license suspension
- Jail time depending on breath/blood alcohol level (BAC) and other factors
- Mandatory alcohol education
- Community service
- Fines up to $2,000
- Increased insurance premiums for up to five (5) years
Anyone charged with DUI faces very serious consequences and finds themselves in a frightening situation. If you are under the age of 21 the consequences have the potential to become even more serious as it is illegal for someone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcohol, let alone get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence. Florida has a zero tolerance policy for persons under 21 who are believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while they are operating a vehicle.
A driver under the age of 21 suspected of being DUI (under the influence of drugs or alcohol) must submit to breath and/or blood tests. As a result of Florida’s zero tolerance policy for underage drivers, the maximum blood alcohol content for a person under 21 is .02%. The mere fact that someone accused of DUI is under 21 will not result in sympathy, nor will the State Attorney’s Office cut you any slack. In fact, under Florida law, juveniles arrested for DUI are prosecuted in adult court.
In addition, most of those arrested for DUI and are under 21 face serious consequences such as not getting certain jobs, losing scholarships, being denied acceptance into college or graduate school programs, obtaining professional licenses and even being expelled from school altogether.
Am I guilty if I have a blood alcohol level of .08%?
DUI is a criminal charge, and in any criminal case it is unconstitutional to have a presumption that the defendant is guilty. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. A defendant that has a blood alcohol level of .08% or above faces evidence that on its face, shows that the person is under the influence and that their normal faculties are impaired.
If I am found to have a blood alcohol level of .08% or above, why should I fight my case?
A DUI conviction will always appear on your record. Florida has mandatory adjudication laws for even a first-time DUI. Formal adjudication means that your DUI will become part of your permanent record and you will not be able to expunge it in the future. This can result in serious consequences for the rest of your life as you attempt to maintain a job, apply for a job, continue your education or receive professional licenses. By hiring a DUI attorney you can ensure that your case is defended with zeal and that any and all possible defenses and challenges are raised to protect your rights. A DUI attorney can challenge many parts of your DUI arrest, such as the stop itself, the investigation, the tests given by law enforcement and the equipment used to administer tests.
Do I even stand a chance with any the best DUI defenses?
DUI law is very complex and there are numerous issues that need to be looked at, analyzed and attacked when defending a DUI. The best DUI defense comes down to the unique facts of your case and how they can be applied to potential defenses that may be available to you.
I look at every aspect of the incident from the time the police officer stopped you all the way through the moment the cell door shut behind you. DUI cases have many layers and your defense attorney needs to be thorough, creative and aggressive when defending you.
A few examples, challenging the basis for the stop, observations made by the officer, roadside sobriety tests, breath results, statements made, breath test challenges, implied consent warnings, video and a slew of other things to make sure the government can meet its burden before it can convict you of DUI. Many people refer to these as technicalities, I view this is me doing my job to fight for your rights and hold the government to its burden to prove you guilty. You do not have to prove you’re innocent!
I was not driving, how can they prove I was DUI?
Under Florida law the prosecutor can prove you are guilty of DUI by showing that you were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and that your normal faculties were impaired. A person is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle when they are in a vehicle and have the ability (present and apparent) to move the vehicle.
This means that you do not have to be driving to be convicted of DUI. Actually, a lot of DUI arrests begin with the accused doing the right thing by deciding to sleep inside their car outside of the establishment in which they consumed alcohol.
There are potential legal issues in actual physical control cases that deal with parked cars such as where you were parked, if you were parked legally and whether the police had the ability to even approach you while you were in your vehicle.
What are the consequences of DUI?
There are plenty of lengthy, arduous and downright expensive penalties that come after a Florida DUI conviction. After the sanctions levied by Florida law take effect, you are likely to feel 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.
Can I drive after a DUI arrest?
If you are arrested for DUI because you were found to have been driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level (DUBAL) of .08 or above or refused to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, your license will be immediately suspended. You can continue driving for 10 days with your DUI citation (ticket). From the date of arrest, you only have 10 days to fightthe administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
Requesting a formal review hearing within 10 days, you will allow you to be issued, assuming you are otherwise eligible, a temporary driving permit (business purpose permit) that will extend your ability to drive for 42 days pending your hearing.
If you feel as though you absolutely NEED to drive, under a recent change to Florida’s administrative suspension law, you can waive your right to a formal review hearing and seek eligibility review so you can obtain a restricted, business purpose permit immediately. NOTE: by not fighting the suspension of your driver’s license, you are waiving your right to challenge the suspension and the suspension will stay on your record.
Once you have been arrested for DUI and your license has been suspended, it is crucial to speak with a skilled DUI attorney to determine your options and pros and cons of how to handle the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
Am I presumed guilty if I have a blood alcohol level of .08%?
DUI is a criminal charge, and in any criminal case it is unconstitutional to have a presumption that the defendant is guilty. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. A defendant that has a blood alcohol level of .08% or above faces evidence, that on its face, shows that the person is under the influence and that their normal faculties are impaired.
Am I eligible for the Back on Track (DUI diversion) program?
The majority of the time, those arrested for DUI are first-time offenders and not hardened criminals that have been through the system before. In reality, getting arrested for DUI can simply be a mistake. DUI diversion programs such as the Back on Track program in Miami are offered by the prosecutor’s office and help make your DUI just that by allowing you to clear your record of the permanent stain brought on by a DUI once you complete certain conditions.
In Miami, referrals to the Back on Track program are given by the State Attorney’s Office and not all first-time DUI offenders will qualify. If you have a high breath test reading (over .20), were involved in an accident, had passengers under 18 years of age in the car, have previous DUIs, have a poor traffic record or a criminal record, you may not be offered acceptance into the program.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘why do I need a lawyer to go into the Back on Track program?’ The reason being that a referral is not guaranteed and depends on the facts of your case. Also, an experienced DUI lawyer will be able to go to court with you and make sure that you are able to successfully complete all conditions of the program. There are also potentially dangerous consequences of accepting a referral into the Back on Track program as you will be required to sign a statement of personal responsibility (admit guilt to DUI) as a condition of acceptance into the program. Should you fail to complete all the conditions, you be removed from the program and your case will come back to court where the State will try to use your admission of guilt against you. Having a skilled DUI attorney by your side is imperative so that you can be advised on the pros and cons of accepting a referral to the program and help determine whether it is truly in your best interest to do so.
What is actual physical control?
In Florida you do not have to actually be driving to be found guilty of driving under the influence. To be found guilty of DUI in Florida, you must be driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. A person is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle when they are in a vehicle and have the ability (present and apparent) to move the vehicle.