Driving Under the Influence
Drunk driving is considered a serious hazard to public safety. As such, Florida law metes out severe consequences for driving under the influence, or DUI.
Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers have extensive experience in handling DUI matters, including more complex and felony charges such as:
- Repeat offenses
- Child endangerment
- DUI manslaughter
- Vehicular homicide
- Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries
Our DUI defense attorneys in Miami understand the gravity of what you are facing.
We recognize there may be immediate fallout with your employer or family members, and we work to discretely and efficiently handle your case to minimize the impact as much as possible. We recognize there may be an immediate license suspension or revocation, and work diligently to persuade the prosecutor and/or judge to grant some reprieve so you can get to work or school or transport your child. If you are being held in jail due to higher-level charges, we work to negotiate a reasonable bond.
With early intervention in a case, we can help you formulate an effective defense strategy. By challenging key evidence, such as faulty breathalyzer results, subjective field sobriety tests and witness statements, we work to weaken the case against you.DUI Penalties in Florida
Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws on the books, and law enforcement agencies routinely hold enhanced patrols and sobriety checkpoints to catch offenders.
The type of penalties you face will depend largely on the following:
- The amount of alcohol detected in your breath or blood stream.
- Your prior history of drunk driving.
- Whether you were involved in an accident .
- Whether anyone was injured as a result of an accident you caused.
- Whether you remained at the scene or attempted to flee.
- Whether any minors under age 18 were in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
- Your status as a commercial driver.
F.S. 316.193 defines most DUI offenses and accompanying penalties.
The legal definition of “under the influence” of alcohol is having a blood-alcohol level that is 0.08 percent or higher.
First-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level of greater than 0.08 percent and less than 0.15 percent have the best chance of reduced charges or entry into a diversion program, which may allow participants to avoid a criminal conviction upon successful completion.
Under those circumstances, the law allows for a maximum penalty of:
- 180-day license suspension.
- Six-month jail sentence.
- $1,000 fine.
If, however, a first-time offender has a blood-alcohol level that is 0.15 percent or higher, those maximum penalties are increased to:
- Nine-month jail sentence.
- $2,000 fine.
A person with one prior DUI conviction will be subject to these penalties, plus mandatory placement of an ignition interlock device at your expense for at least one full year, starting when restrictions on your license is lifted.
A person convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years will face:
- Third-degree felony charge, carrying a maximum 5-year prison term.
- Maximum $2,000 fine.
- 2 years minimum mandatory ignition interlock placement.
If a third DUI offense occurs more than 10 years after the date of a prior conviction, penalties include:
- Maximum one-year jail sentence.
- $2,000 - $5,000 fine.
- 2 years minimum mandatory ignition interlock.
The consequences become more severe when the individual has been involved in a crash or has a minor in the car. A person who causes damage to another person’s property while driving drunk commits a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
A person with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher or who is traveling with someone under 18 in the car will receive enhanced penalties even for a first offense, including a fine schedule of between $1,000 and $2,000 and a jail term of nine months. A second-time offender faces a fine schedule of $2,000 to $4,000 and a jail term of up to one year.
If serious bodily injury results in a crash, it’s considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
If a defendant is accused of causing a death (including that of an unborn child) while driving drunk, it is considered DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The minimum mandatory sentence for this charge is 4 years.
That penalty is doubled (to a first-degree felony punishably by 30 years) if the offender knew or should have known serious injury resulted from a DUI accident and failed to give information and render aid (otherwise known as hit-and-run). Florida law was updated in 2014 to require a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years for hit-and-run, even if impairment can’t be proven.
Finally, know that because Florida is an “informed consent” state, it is expected that you will provide a breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol sample upon request by police. If you do not, you will face a mandatory one-year license suspension. However, this may be preferable in some situations because your blood-alcohol level may be the only solid evidence of your impairment.
You are not required by law to submit to field sobriety tests. The results are often used against you, so if you are intoxicated, it’s generally best to respectfully decline and say as little as possible.
Recognize that a DUI conviction on your record could impact your employment, admission to graduate schools, military options and insurance rates. University students may face expulsion. Commercial drivers could be fired. Insurance rates will likely climb by $3,000 to $5,000 annually for the next three to five years. It’s important for those facing DUI charges to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.DUI Defense Strategies
The strategy our experienced DUI defense lawyers employ will depend heavily on the individual facts of the case.
It’s important for you to understand that you are not required to provide police with any information beyond your name, address and insurance information. Any statements you make – including where you are going or where you came from – could be damaging to your defense.
You should be respectful and courteous, but understand you are under no obligation to offer a statement without your attorney present.
Once we have a case, we will analyze all possible defenses including:
- Illegal stop.
- Inaccurate or inapplicable field sobriety testing.
- Forced blood draws without a warrant.
- Failure to read your Miranda rights.
- Breathalyzer machine defects.
- Failure to prove driving.
- Inconsistent statements by officers and witnesses.
Any of these could help bolster your DUI defense.
Contact the Miami DUI Defense Attorneys at Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.
Call us at (305) 358-7991.