Driving under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Florida, with the potential for major penalties. A DUI is a criminal charge that could also result in the loss of your drivers’ license, preventing you from getting to work or school or taking care of your family. There are two separate parts of a DUI arrest: the criminal charge and the administrative matter regarding your license. If you are charged with a DUI in Tallahassee or the surrounding areas, it is incredibly important to seek skilled legal counsel to minimize the impact of this charge on your life.
DUI Law in Florida
Under Florida law, it is a criminal offense to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. While this crime is usually charged as a misdemeanor for first-time offenders, the consequences of a DUI include:
- Time in jail after your arrest (usually at least 8 hours)
- Immediate suspension of your license, with a potential suspension of between 180 days and 1 year
- Up to 6 months in jail after conviction
- At least 50 hours of community service
- Mandatory DUI education classes
- A fine of between $250 and $500
- Up to one year of probation
- Required participation in a victim awareness program
- Impoundment of your vehicle
- Criminal conviction on your record
Penalties for additional DUI offenses increase, and may result in a permanent suspension of your driver’s license. There are many different types of DUIs under Florida law, each of which carries its own criminal sanctions. They include:
- Felony DUI: this charge involves either 3 DUIs within a 10 year period or a fourth DUI, a DUI-related accident that caused bodily injury, or DUI with a suspended license
- Underage DUI: this is the charge brought against anyone under the age of 21 who is arrested for driving under the influence
- Multiple DUI: this is the charge for a second or third DUI offense
- DUI with Serious Bodily Injury: if you cause permanent disfigurement or the loss or impairment of any bodily member or function, you may be charged with this crime
- Aggravated DUI: if your blood alcohol level is .15 or higher or if there were children in the car, you may be charged with Aggravated DUI.
- DUI with Property Damage: this charge is brought when someone else’s property is damaged because you were driving under the influence.
- DUI Manslaughter: if someone dies as a result of your DUI, you may be charged with this crime.
- Commercial Vehicle DUI: if you hold a commercial driver’s license, higher standards apply to you, and you may be charged with this crime if you are caught driving under the influence.
A skilled Tallahassee DUI attorney may be able to mount a defense to a DUI charge, including challenging the results of a chemical test or arguing that the stop that led to the arrest was illegal.