Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a very serious offense in Florida. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be facing the following penalties:
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Jail time
- Mandatory DUI conviction
- Fines and court costs
- Community Service
- Having to install an ignition interlock device
- DUI school and counseling
- Vehicle impoundment or immobilization
In the State of Florida, first-time offenders who plead no contest or who are found guilty of a DUI will automatically receive probation along with most of the penalties listed above.
If you are currently facing a second, third, or even fourth DUI charge, you will need the aid of an experienced Broward County DUI lawyer as individuals charged with successive DUI’s are subject to greater penalties. A knowledgeable criminal attorney in Broward County can mount a defense to help lessen or dismiss any penalties associated with the charge.
Determining DUI Charges
To convict an individual of DUI, the court must prove that the accused was operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent their normal faculties were impaired or with an unlawful blood alcohol of .08 or greater.
The most important piece of evidence for Broward County DUI lawyers will be the testimony of the arresting officer, any video or audio recordings made of field sobriety exercises as well as the BAC (blood alcohol content) test results of the individual. Each state sets a blood alcohol content level (BAC) that motorists are not allowed to exceed.
In the state of Florida, if the BAC test result of an individual exceeds 0.08, they can be detained for drunk driving. If the BAC test results are 0.15 or above, the individual will face more severe legal ramifications which may include higher fines and the requirement of an ignition interlock device.
Factors Affecting Sentencing and Charges
If someone is a first-time DUI offender in Florida, the penalties they face can certainly be life-altering, but if they have been convicted before, they could also be looking at the prospect of mandatory jail time or possibly a felony for a subsequent DUI charge. The severity of a sentence can also be influenced by other factors present at the time of arrest. Some of these factors include:
- Prior charges
- Refusal to take a BAC breath test
- Breath Test Results above 0.15
- Having minors under the age of 18 in the car
- Accidents causing property damage or serious bodily harm
If any of the factors above present themselves in the case, the individual could end up dealing with a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor.
In this case, people will need the help of a DUI attorney in Broward County to get their charges reduced or minimize the penalties. Lawyers can provide clients with the legal guidance they need.
Law Enforcement Responsibilities
At the time of arrest, the responsible law enforcement officer must take very strictly regulated action. The breath test must be correctly performed, and most importantly, the officer must have reason to believe (probable cause) that the person is driving while intoxicated or impaired.
This is a subjective and gray area, and many states do not agree on what counts as reasonable suspicion or probable cause of drunk driving.
Regardless of the reason behind detainment, the arresting officer must respect the person’s constitutional rights. If they do not, the charges against the individual may not be fully valid and may be dropped or reduced to reckless driving.