Your first Florida DUI charge can be an intimidating experience, and for good reason. A DUI conviction comes with penalties that affect your driving privileges, your finances, and your freedom. Often, the DUI charge comes as a surprise: the alleged offender generally believed that he or she was fully capable of driving safely and was stopped at a routine traffic stop. However, DUI charges do not always end in a conviction. It is important to understand what you are up against in order to start defensive strategies immediately.
A person can be charged with DUI in Florida under statute 316.193 if he or she is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired by being under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a combination of the two. . Actual physical control is indicated by the individual’s location in relation to the car, whether he or she is in possession of the keys, and whether the vehicle is running, among other things. Normal abilities include tasks performed on a daily basis, such as balancing, walking, speaking, and calculating distances.
In addition, you can also be charged with a DUI “per se” in Florida, that is, DUI for having a BAC above the legal limit. The legal limit for Florida DUI is .08%. This is indicated by:
•.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or
•.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath
These levels are more easily reached than most people realize. Depending on the person, someone can reach the legal limit by consuming as little as one drink. Every body metabolizes alcohol differently, so you may not hit your limit until three drinks. A drink is defined as:
• 1.5 oz 80 proof liquor
• 12 oz beer at 5% alcohol by volume
• 5 oz. wine at 12% alcohol by volume
Therefore, it is possible, according to these standards and Florida law, to be arrested for DUI if you are out of your car, have had a drink once, and a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are incapacitated. It’s better not to risk it and secure a designated driver if he knows he’s going to drink.
A first DUI in Florida is usually a second degree misdemeanor if there are no additional factors such as property damage, bodily injury, or death. However, the penalties can still severely affect your future and include:
• $500-$1000 fine
• Up to 6 months in jail
• Up to 1 year of mandatory probation
• 180 days – 1 year driver’s license suspension
• 10 days of vehicle seizure
• More than 50 hours of community service
• 12 hour DUI driver improvement course or alcoholism evaluation and treatment
A strong defense strategy is necessary to prevent these punitive measures from endangering your freedom and your future. A Florida DUI first defense attorney can help you defend your rights and fight for a more favorable outcome.