Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that are being asked in Florida.
What does it mean if the State of Florida is seeking "enhanced DUI penalties?"
An "enhanced DUI" means that the breath sample you provided registered a breath alcohol level of a .15 or above. In these cases, the penalties are more severe than if your breath alcohol level was below a .15.
For an enhanced DUI, you will see an increase in the fine amount and you will have to install the ignition interlock on your vehicle which requires you to provide a breath sample prior to being able to start your vehicle.
Often, when a person's breath alcohol level is just over the .15 threshold, and there are mitigating factors, i.e., a first-time offense, a request can be made to the State to considering "stipulating" that the blow was under a .15 in order to avoid the enhanced penalties.
What is the "Ten Day Rule"?
When you are arrested for a DUI, the officer will write you a citation. It basically looks like a traffic ticket. They are required to write this citation and give it to you because the citation will serve as your Florida Driver's License for a period of ten days following your arrest. Once the ten days have passed, based on your eligibility, you will have to apply for a hardship license in order to legally operate your vehicle.
It is important to carry that citation with you at all times during that ten-day period, if you are stopped for any reason, you will need to provide that citation as proof of your licensure.
In some instances, for example, when you have previous DUI arrests, it might be beneficial to request a Formal Review Hearing to address your license suspension. In these cases, an attorney will attend and argue the hearing for you, and you will be given an extension on the time you are allowed to drive.
What are the penalties of a DUI/DWI in Florida?
The penalties for DUI in Florida vary significantly and depend on several factors. The penalties will depend on how many prior DUI convictions you have when they occurred, and what your breath alcohol level was when you were arrested.
A first time DUI, with either a refusal or a blow under a .15, is technically a second-degree misdemeanor. However, by statute, the penalties for even a first-time offense are much greater than a typical second-degree misdemeanor. You can face up to 180 days in the county jail, followed by probation, a $1000 fine, a one-year driver's license suspension, 50 hours of community service, DUI School, 10-day vehicle impound, and 6 months of the ignition interlock device on your vehicle. However, unless there are aggravating factors, it is unlikely that someone facing a first time DUI charge will have to serve this sentence. More often than not, a first time DUI sentence is twelve months of probation, a $500 fine, six months of a driver's license revocation, 50 hours of community service, DUI school, and a ten-day vehicle impound.
Of course, the penalties increase from there depending on the factors mentioned previously. Once you get to a third DUI within ten years or a fourth DUI, it is possible for the State to file the charge as a felony, which would come with even harsher sanctions.
After being stopped for a DUI or DWI, can a police officer ask me questions without reading me my ri
When you are stopped by an officer during a routine traffic stop, the officer can ask you some very basic questions. These will generally include asking you where you were coming from, where you are going, etc. They may also ask you whether you have had anything to drink (alcohol). They are asking these questions in order to establish reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence so that they can proceed with a DUI investigation.
You must provide an officer with documentation that they request, including your driver's license, proof of insurance and your registration. The questions concerning where you are coming from and going to, and certainly a question about your alcohol consumption, may or may not be incriminating. You do not have to answer these questions if you do not feel comfortable, but at this stage, the officer can ask you those questions without reading you the Miranda Rights.
Once the officer has commenced a DUI investigation and is having you perform Field Sobriety Exercises and asking you more in-depth questions about where you were and what you had to drink, they must read you the Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights must be read prior to asking you any questions that are incriminating, i.e. questions that elicit a response that can be used against you in the criminal investigation.
What happens if I refuse a breath analyzer in Florida?
Most people don't realize that on your actual driver's license it states, "Operation of a motor vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test required by law." What that means, is that by driving in the state of Florida, you are consenting to a legally requested breath sample in a DUI investigation. However, you do have the right to refuse the breath sample, it just comes with consequences.
For a first-time refusal, you face a license suspension of up to one year. For a second or subsequent refusal, your license will be suspended for a period of eighteen months. Also, if you have previously refused a breath sample, even if that DUI was later reduced or dropped, and you refuse again, you also will be charged with a misdemeanor crime of refusal; a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
All that being said, in most DUI cases, the prosecution's most convincing evidence is the results of the breath sample. And in cases where the person refuses the breath sample, the fact that they refused can be used against them at trial by the prosecution to argue consciousness of guilt; that the person knew they were intoxicated and that's why they didn't provide a sample.
You have to weigh the risks and benefits of choosing to refuse a breath sample very carefully, especially if you have refused to give a sample in the past.
What is the number of signs police officers look for before stopping a driver who they think might b
There is no magic number of things that an officer needs to witness prior to making a traffic stop when they suspect an impaired driver. Often you will hear that an officer saw a vehicle "weaving in and out of lanes, failure to maintain a single lane, periods of extreme speeding up and slowing down", and things of that nature.
In order for a traffic stop to be lawful, the officer must be able to articulate the reasons for the stop. If there is an actual traffic infraction, for example, running a red light or driving the wrong way on a one-way road, then the officer has probable cause to stop a vehicle. However, if there isn't a definite infraction being committed, the officer has to have reasonable suspicion that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence in order to conduct a traffic stop. Often you will hear that the officer suspected the driver to be "ill, tired or impaired". These are the magic words that almost every police report will contain in order to validate the stop. Unfortunately, "reasonable suspicion" is not a perfectly defined term, and often comes down to an argument based on case law, and can even vary from judge to judge. There are several good cases that exist however that state that an officer must be able to specifically articulate the reasons for the stop, it cannot be based on a hunch.
Will I have to go to jail immediately if I am found guilty of a DUI?
Again, this answer all depends on the number of previous DUI convictions you have. If you are on your first DUI, it is very unlikely that you will be going to jail unless there are very aggravating facts in your particular case. If you are convicted of your second DUI within a five-year time span, there is a mandatory jail sentence of ten days.
Sometimes an attorney is able to negotiate with the State and you will be allowed to enter an approved rehabilitation center in lieu of jail, but that is not a guarantee.
When you plead to a DUI, most judges will sentence you right away. This means that if jail was part of your plea offer, you will go to jail that day. However, some judges may permit you to have a turn in date at a later time to allow you to get your affairs in order before you must report to the jail.
But, it is important to keep in mind, that jail time associated with DUIs varies from case to case, and depends very heavily on the number of prior DUI convictions you have.
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