BY JONATHAN BLECHER, Esq.
We should all be mindful of Florida’s DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws. We should all drink responsibly. Did you know that 3 Martinis in a 2 hour period will put a 180 lb. man over a .08. Likewise, 4 glasses of Champagne in 2 hours will put a 125 lb. woman over a .08. So sometimes, either by poor judgment, bad luck or over-zealous law enforcement, people are arrested for DUI. Here are some things you should know:
Important Facts About Florida DUI Laws
- If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida you only have ten days to appeal the administrative suspension of your driver's license.
- A Florida DUI conviction will result in a permanent criminal record.
- A Florida DUI conviction will result in costly fines, lengthy probation, substance abuse classes and a driver's license revocation, and a possible ignition interlock device.
- A Florida DUI conviction may result in higher automobile insurance premiums.
- You need to consult with an experienced Florida DUI lawyer about your legal rights.
Taking the Breath Test or Refusing
If you blow over a .08 BAC (breath alcohol concentration) you will face an immediate DHSMV- based suspension of your driving privileges for six months. If you refuse the test, the suspension period is one year. You have 10 days to file an appeal of this suspension with DHSMV. If you win the appeal, you get your license back. If you lose the appeal, your license remains suspended and you won’t be eligible for a work permit for 30 days (breath test) or 90 days (refusal).
A second refusal to submit to a breath and/or urine test can be charged as a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An Ignition Interlock Device is a device placed inside a vehicle which requires the driver to breathe into a measuring device before the car will start. If any alcohol is detected on the driver's breath the vehicle will not start.
Any person convicted of a first offense DUI with a BAC over .15, or a second or third DUI offender who intends to obtain a permanent or restricted driver license, is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, at their own expense. Drivers are required to submit proof of the interlock installation to the DHSMV before they will be issued a license.
A DUI Conviction Usually Affects Insurance
If you are convicted of DUI your insurance company will find out. Typically, your rates will go up, sometimes substantially, or the company will simply cancel your policy. If your insurance company raises your premiums but keeps you as an insured, you will likely be labeled a "high-risk driver." Florida law requires the insurance company to provide DHSMV with an SR-22 Proof of Insurance Certificate, which removes your license suspension.
FloridaThird DUI Offense Is A Felony
Changes to Florida's DUI laws have increased the penalties for multiple DUI convictions. In Florida, a third DUI offense within ten years of any prior DUI can be charged as a third degree felony. Prior to July of 2002, a third DUI within 10 years was a misdemeanor offense. Some jurisdictions will prosecute these cases as misdemeanors.
Defenses to DUI Cases
There are dozens of valid legal defense to a DUI prosecution. An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will determine which of those may be applicable in your case. These are not “loopholes," but valuable and meaningful constitutional protections which we all share.
Jonathan Blecher is a former state prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney with offices in the Downtown Dadeland area. He has over 30 years of criminal law experience. Visit his website at duilawdefense.com or contact his office at 305.670.1800.