Alcohol affects the human body in several ways, making it unsafe for anyone to drive after consuming too much alcohol in a short time. If you attempt to drive anywhere under the influence of alcohol, you could face severe criminal charges or worse, end up seriously hurting yourself or others. Discuss your case with an attorney to understand the next steps to take after a DUI arrest.
Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with your sensory perception, ability to gauge depth, speed, and motion, judgment, and your reflexes. These effects make it extremely dangerous to drive, and an intoxicated driver is a danger to everyone on the road. For this reason, the state of Florida follows a robust set of rules for handling DUI offenses to discourage the practice. Unfortunately, Florida still reports higher rates of DUI-related crashes than most of the rest of the country.
Law enforcement officers use a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reading to determine whether a driver is under the influence. The legal limit for drivers over the age of 21 is .08% BAC. If a police officer administers a breathalyzer or other chemical test to check for BAC, any reading above the legal limit will result in a DUI charge. Florida’s penalties for DUI offenses increase with subsequent offenses.
A first-time DUI conviction in Florida will incur a penalty of $500 to $2,000 in fines, driver’s license suspension of 180 days up to one year, and up to six months in jail. The convicted individual will also require the use of an interlock ignition device for a certain period of time. This device prevents a vehicle from starting unless the driver blows into a breathalyzer device and records a reading below the legal limit. The length of time the driver will require the device depends on his or her number of prior convictions.
A second DUI offense will result in $1,000 to $4,000 in fines, a five year driver’s license suspension, and up to nine months in jail. The convicted driver may appeal the driver’s license suspension after one year. A third offense is punishable by $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, 30 days up to five years in jail, and a ten year driver’s license suspension. The driver may appeal the driver’s license suspension after two years. It’s also important to remember that there is a washout period that begins after a DUI conviction. This period is five years after a second offense and ten years for a third offense. Another DUI conviction within this time period will lead to more significant legal penalties.
Florida also follows a few special rules for DUI crimes in regard to minors and commercial drivers. The legal BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .02%, and the legal BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04%. It’s vital to remember that each person’s body handles and processes alcohol differently, so the same amount of alcohol in the same time for two different people could result in two very different BAC readings. There is no solid formula for calculating how much is safe to drink before driving, so it is always best to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol. Additionally, refusing a chemical test will automatically result in a one year driver’s license suspension for a first offense and an 18-month suspension after a second or third offense.
If you or a loved one are facing DUI charges, the right attorney can help mitigate your punishment or may even help you argue down to a lesser charge such as a wet reckless, or reckless driving charge. An attorney can also ensure you meet the court’s requirements after a DUI conviction to avoid penalties and subsequent DUI charges. Contact a lawyer from Fischer Redavid PLLC in Gainesville, Florida today to schedule a free consultation. Once we review your DUI case, we can let you know how our attorneys can help.