Our criminal defense lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience defending DUI and other crimes. If you have been arrested for DUI, call our office immediately for a free initial consultation. We handle all facets of defending your DUI, including driver’s license revocation hearings. The Tampa DUI defense legal team is prepared to defend you aggressively at every step of the process.
What is DUI in Florida?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime in Florida. It is proven by showing one of two things:
- That you were actually impaired OR
- That your blood or breath alcohol content was 0.08 percent or higher, at which point impairment is presumed.
You must also be in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle at the time of your impairment. Actual physical control can include driving, sitting in the driver’s seat, or even sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked car. The ignition does not need to be on for you to be charged with DUI.
DUI is an enhanceable offense, meaning that the more times you do it, the more severe your penalty. For example, a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor, whereas your third DUI within 10 years is a felony. The driver’s license revocation period and other penalties increase with each new offense.
Florida DUI Laws
Florida takes DUI seriously, a fact that is reflected in the criminal code section dealing with DUI (316.193). If you are convicted, you will face a long list of punishment:
- Possible Jail Time
- Fines and Court Costs
- Having Your Vehicle Impounded
- An Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment
- Community service
- DUI School
- Driver’s License Revocation
- Breathalyzer Ignition Interlock in Your Vehicle
If you are convicted, your sentence will be enhanced if there was an aggravating factor in your DUI, like driving with a minor in the vehicle or with a blood alcohol reading of 0.15 or higher. For examples of some of the statutory penalties for DUI in Florida, see the table below:
|DUI Offense||Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation||Period of Probation||Jail Term||Fines|
|First DUI||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to six months||$500-$1,000|
|First DUI, Aggravating factor||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to nine months||$1,000-$2,000|
|Second DUI, more than five years since first DUI||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to nine months||$1,000-$2,000|
|Second DUI, more than five years, aggravating factor||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to one year||$2,000-$4,000|
|Second DUI within five years||Five years||Up to one year||10 days to one year||$1,000-$2,000|
|Second DUI within five years, aggravating factor||Five years||Up to one year||10 days to one year||$2,000-$4,000|
|Third DUI, more than 10 years since previous offenses||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to one year||$2,000-$5,000|
|Third DUI, more than ten years, aggravating factor||Six months to one year||Up to one year||Up to one year||>$4,000|
|Felony Third DUI within 10 years||10 years||Up to five years||30 days to five years||<$5,000|
|Felony Third DUI within 10 years, aggravating factor||10 years||Up to five years||30 days to five years||>$4,000|
|Felony Fourth DUI under any circumstances||Permanent revocation||Up to five years||Varies, up to five years||>$2,000|
Many people are surprised to learn that even a first-time DUI can carry jail time and such severe driver’s license penalties. Since the 1980s, DUI laws in Florida and elsewhere have gotten much tougher. In fact, the legal blood alcohol content reading was 0.10 until relatively recently. Now, of course, it is 0.08.
Mounting the best DUI defense possible is important for your future. Retaining your driving privileges may be vital for your continued employment. A DUI can make you feel ostracized or make others believe that you are actually an alcoholic – even if you are not. Penalties like a breathalyzer ignition interlock, which require that you blow into them to even start your car in order to prove your sobriety, can fuel misconceptions and make your DUI more public than you would like.
Getting Your Driver’s License Back – the 10 Day Rule
Under state law, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will issue you a 10-day permit to drive after your DUI arrest. Within those 10 days, you must request an administrative hearing. If you do not request a hearing and have a winning DUI defense strategy, the DMV will automatically revoke your driver’s license for at least six months if it is your first DUI, and often for much longer if you have had prior DUI convictions. If you are convicted of DUI twice within five years, your driver’s license will be revoked for five years. For fourth-time DUI offenders, the driver’s license revocation is permanent.
The only way to retain your driving privileges is to prevail at the revocation hearing. Contact our office as soon as possible after your DUI arrest. We will schedule your hearing and defend you aggressively. Our experienced Tampa DUI attorneys frequently provide representation at driver’s license revocation hearings, so you can trust that we are working for the best possible outcome in your case.
Retaining your driving privileges is important for employment and your personal life. Daily tasks like driving to work or taking your child to soccer practice become more difficult if your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. Trust the experience of our DUI defense lawyers. The administrative review hearing on your driver’s license is the first step in your DUI defense. If the information that is bad for your defense in court comes out at the driver’s license hearing, the government may use it against you at your trial. Likewise, we will introduce as much positive information as possible to get your DUI case off on the right foot.
More Severe Charges
DUI Manslaughter and DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
In addition to DUI, Florida law recognizes additional, more severe types of driving while intoxicated. DUI Manslaughter occurs when, as a result of a driver’s impairment, someone is killed. Typically this situation arises when a person is driving while intoxicated and has an accident, resulting in death. The death can be a pedestrian, a person in another vehicle, or a passenger in the driver’s own car so long as the death was the result of impaired driving. If a pregnant woman is injured such that she suffers a miscarriage of her viable fetus, you can be charged with DUI Manslaughter in Florida. DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years of prison.
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury is similar to DUI Manslaughter, except that in those cases, a person suffers serious injury as a result of impaired driving. DUI with Serious Bodily injury is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Contact our Tampa DUI defense lawyers immediately if you have been arrested for DUI, DUI Manslaughter, or DUI with Serious Bodily Injury.
Vehicular homicide occurs when, as a result of reckless driving, a person or a viable fetus dies. The driver can be completely sober. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. Committing vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of the accident is a first-degree felony and can result in up to 30 years in prison. If you are arrested for vehicular homicide, contact our office as soon as possible for your free criminal defense consultation.
Tampa DUI and Traffic Violation Attorneys Provide Aggressive Defense
Our attorneys are prepared to fight on your behalf, regardless of the criminal charge. We represent DUI, DUI Manslaughter, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, Vehicular Manslaughter, and other criminal and traffic violations.
Contact our office for a free, confidential initial consultation to talk about your rights.