Facing accusations of a DUI Offense can be a scary and intimidating time in a person’s life. For many individuals, this is their first and only interaction with Florida’s Criminal Justice System. Simply being arrested can be a traumatic experience, to say nothing of the potential penalties that a person may face.
There are many ways the State can pursue a DUI charge against an individual and many people are surprised to learn that they can still face these charges without the use of a breath or blood test. Palm Beach Gardens DUI Lawyers are dedicated to educating people about Florida’s DUI Laws and to defending them against charges in Florida’s Courts. Speaking with a distinguished drunk driving attorney could help you fight criminal DUI charges.
What is the Legal Definition of Driving Under the Influence?
Florida’s laws concerning Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, are in Florida Statute 316.193. The statute provides three definitions of DUI. First, a person is driving under the influence if, while in control of a vehicle, they are under the influence of alcohol or any other substance to the extent that their normal ability to drive is impaired. Note here that there is no mention of any blood alcohol level.
This definition is the only path to a conviction for a Prosecutor if there is no recorded chemical test. Evidence in these cases typically consists only of the arresting officer’s observations and opinion of the individual’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle
Second, a person can face these charges if their blood alcohol level is .08 percent or above after a breath test. Finally, this blood alcohol level can also be established via a blood test. Many cases involve the results of blood alcohol tests since all drivers give their implied consent to submit to these tests whenever they get behind the wheel.
While a driver may refuse to submit to a test when asked by a police officer, simply doing so is a crime in and of itself that may result in an immediate loss of license upon arrest.
Potential Penalties of a DUI Offense
The potential penalties for DUI are varied. Depending upon the individual’s number of previous offenses, any property damage or personal injury that results, and the level of intoxication, penalties can range from relatively minor to extremely harsh.
For example, after a first offense where the individual’s blood alcohol level was below .15 percent and no injury resulted these are the potential penalties:
- A minimum fine of $500, up to a maximum of $1,000
- A jail term of up to six months
- 50 hours minimum of community service
- Probation for up to one year
- Completion of a substance abuse education course
- Loss of license for between 180 and 365 days
- DUI School (12 hours plus a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended counseling)
- One session of the Victim Impact Panel (MADD class)
Seeking Legal Aid from a Palm Beach Gardens DUI Lawyer
The potential penalties following a conviction are harsh, even for a first-time offender. Still, if a person is involved in a DUI where no one suffered injuries and no property damage resulted, they may face probation with community service, fines, and a loss of license.
While the Prosecutor has the option to pursue a jail sentence, this is rare. If a person has a previous conviction within five years, an offense may carry a mandatory jail sentence and the other provisions become much more severe.
DUI charges can be intimidating and frightening. People may assume that if they are facing these charges, they are certain to be sent to jail. However, this is not necessarily the case. A skilled Palm Beach Gardens DUI lawyer could work towards every individual’s goals. We are ready to help you work towards the best possible outcome for your case.