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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Florida DUIs

Driving under the influence in Florida can carry heavy penalties. How does Florida define driving under the influence, what penalties exactly might an intoxicated driver face, and what happens to drivers of commercial motor vehicle licenses after a DUI charge? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Florida DUIs, along with their answers:

What Constitutes Driving under the Influence in Florida?

According to Florida law, driving under the influence is a single offense applicable when an offender has a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more. If other criminal offenses took place, other charges may apply (reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, etc.). There is no difference in penalties for driving under the influence, regardless of the manner through which the alcohol level is demonstrated.

How Are Alcohol Levels Measured?

Blood and breath alcohol levels can be measured through breathalyzers or blood tests. Urine tests may also be ordered. Refusal to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test is admissible evidence in criminal proceedings for driving under the influence charges, and even if the accused person refuses, authorized medical personnel can withdraw blood by force for testing by the arresting officer. If the individual is unconscious, they will be assumed to not have objected to blood testing. Refusal to submit to testing can also lead to automatic driver’s license suspensions for up to 18 months, as well as automatic disqualification from holding commercial driver’s licenses.

What Kinds of Penalties Apply in DUI Cases?

Driving under the influence charges can carry heavy fines. A first conviction can result in a fine of up to $2,000 depending on how high the offender’s alcohol level was. A second or third conviction can bring the fine up to $5,000. Additionally, DUI charges can lead to incarceration, required residential alcoholism treatment programs, impoundment of the offender’s motor vehicles, and drivers’ license revocations.

What Happens If the Driver of a Commercial Motor Vehicle Gets a DUI?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles face special hardships if convicted of driving under the influence. A first conviction of driving under the influence can disqualify the offender from operating a commercial motor vehicle for an entire year and additional convictions can lead to a permanent bar from driving commercial motor vehicles. In some states, offenders who drive commercially can apply for a hardship license to operate a commercial motor vehicle, but the state of Florida is not one of them.

Do Offenders Need to Complete DUI School?

Sometimes. Depending on whether the offender has been convicted of a DUI before as well as on the circumstances of the charge, a person charged with a DUI who is later convicted may need to enroll in and complete what the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles calls “DUI school”.

Have you been charged with driving under the influence? At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, our experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyers are prepared to advocate for your rights in the courtroom. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.

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