According to the State Justice Department, in Florida in 2012 there were 61,852 arrests stemming from driving under the influence (DUI). Given the common occurrence of this type of legal problem, our criminal defense team in Broward presents a few key points related to DUI.
Driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances or controlled substances is regulated by Florida Statute 316.193. Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven.
One of the penalties can include fines from $500 to over $4000, depending on the number of conviction and the blood/breath alcohol level (BAL).
For a first conviction the defendant can also receive mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required and a total period of probation and incarceration that may not exceed 1 year.
Regarding imprisonment, at court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment. While for a first conviction the penalty is usually not more than 9 months, depending on BAL, for a fourth of subsequent conviction the penalty can go up to 5 years.
The vehicle is also impounded, unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation: First conviction results in 10 days of impoundment, that can go up to 90 days for a third conviction within 10 years. Impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration.
Regarding the release of persons arrested for DUI, the person must no longer be under the influence and have normal faculties. The person’s blood/breath alcohol level must be lower than 0.05 or eight hours must have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.
Also, there are different types of criminal convictions, as a function of the damages done in the case of an accident.
DUI misdemeanor conviction applies in the case of an accident involving property damage or personal injury and is punishable by not more than $1,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment.
DUI felony conviction applies in the case of a repeat offenders or accidents involving serious bodily injury. Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment). Any person who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is guilty of a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment) or if habitual/violent felony offender.
Also, the penalties for manslaughter and vehicular homicide are as follow:
• DUI/Manslaughter: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
• DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of DUI Manslaughter who knew/should have known accident occurred; and failed to give information or render aid is guilty of a First Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).
• Vehicular Homicide: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
• Vehicular Homicide/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of vehicular homicide who left the scene of an accident is guilty of a First Degree Felony (nor more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).
Florida Statutes also include driver license revocation periods for DUI. The first conviction assumes a minimum 180 days revocation and maximum 1 year, while a Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred) and Murder with Motor Vehicle, includes mandatory permanent revocation and no hardship reinstatement.
Other penalties might include DUI school requirements, such as, for the first conviction, DUI school completion before hardship reinstatement.
Given the seriousness of these charges and the potential high penalties for DUI, we always recommend consulting a specialized criminal defense lawyer in order to receive a high-quality representation and legal defense.