Driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI) and related impaired driving offenses can have a serious impact on one’s life. That’s why it’s so important to understand the law, your rights and your legal options when facing such charges.
The state of Florida‚Äôs legal code defines a DUI as:
driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and:
(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s.877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person‚Äôs normal faculties are impaired;
(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
HOW A DUI IS PROVEN IN FLORIDA
No matter the circumstances, or where you are arrested in Broward County, your DUI charge will have to be proven in one of two ways:
Your normal faculties were impaired.
You drove with an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher.
Either of these prosecution routes result in the same penalties if you are convicted. If this is your first DUI charge, it is vitally important to fight it with every defense possible, as the penalties for repeat offenders are drastically increased.
FLORIDA DUI PENALTIES
If you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, you face a number of penalties. Depending on the specifics of your case, your penalties may vary. It is vital that you consult a qualified DUI defense attorney that practices in the county of your arrest. If you are arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, or anywhere in Broward County, consider hiring a local attorney that knows all the key players in your case‚Äìpolice, judges and local officials.
The range of fines for a DUI is wide. Beginning with $500 for a first time offense, the monetary fees go up to $4,000 or more for repeat DUI convictions. While it may be tempting to just pay the fine for your first offense, this is only the beginning of the penalties you could face if convicted with a DUI.
If you are convicted for a DUI in Fort Lauderdale, or any of Broward County, you may face imprisonment at the Broward County Jail for a period of 6-12 months. This can be for first time offenders as well as repeat convictions. This is in addition to fines that may be placed on you. Don‚Äôt leave your freedom to the hands of a public defender that has too many cases to effectively defend you.
Even if you manage to avoid jail time from your particular judge, it is likely to be placed on probation for a period of time. In Florida, this can range from one day up to 5 years, at the courts discretion. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed.
You may also be required to attend alcohol or drug counseling as a condition of or substitution for your probation and/or jail sentence. These programs emphasize the rehabilitation from alcohol and drugs, and if you are convicted of a DUI, may be used instead of harsher sentencing. This is entirely dependent on the specifics of your case, and the quality of your defense. If you are granted entry into one of these programs and fail to complete it, other penalties may come into effect as punishment for your conviction.
If convicted of a DUI in Florida, you will face a suspension of your drivers license for 6 months. This is for first time offenders, and the suspension increases from there, leading to a permanent revocation for a 4th DUI conviction. DUI is taken very seriously in towns like Fort Lauderdale, and if convicted, Broward County courts will suspend your license unless certain conditions are met to prove hardship. Hiring an attorney to defend your case means getting the best possible deal if you are convicted, and the possibility of having charges completely dropped.
The Cost of a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney
A conviction for DUI can be one of the most expensive penalties of your life. Weigh these costs with the cost of a qualified criminal trial attorney. While the short term cost of fighting a DUI may seem high, consider all of the expenses and penalties you may incur if you are convicted.