Driving Under The Influence (DUI) Charges In Florida
We don’t always exercise good judgment, particularly when it’s been altered by the use of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, this leads many people to make the poor choice of driving while they are intoxicated, an act that can result in a charge of driving under the influence (DUI). DUI charges are always costly and stressful, and under the worst circumstances, they can result in the loss of life. Despite the fact that most people know this, thousands of people are charged with DUI each year in Florida. If you’re one of them, read on to gain a better understanding of what you’re facing, and how an attorney may be able to help.
Understanding Aggravated DUI in Florida
In Florida and every other state in the U.S., the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) while driving is 0.08 percent. This means that if you are found to be in control of a motor vehicle while at or above this limit, then you will be arrested for DUI.
Whether your DUI charge is considered a first-degree misdemeanor or a felony will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding it. If you have received a first-time DUI absent any aggravating factors, then with the help of an experienced DUI attorney, you may be able to get your charge reduced to a reckless driving charge, which carries less harsh penalties. However, if your case involves aggravating factors, then you may very well be facing a felony DUI (also referred to as an extreme DUI in Florida) and significant, life-altering consequences.
So, what are aggravating factors? They differ from state to state, but the following are some of the most common in Florida:
- The presence of minors in the vehicle when stopped for DUI
- Being stopped for DUI while in a school zone
- DUI while on a suspended or revoked driver’s license
- Prior DUI convictions—regardless of whether they were received in Florida or another state
- Injury to another person as a result of DUI
- A display of willful disregard for the safety of others by driving recklessly while DUI (this includes driving 30 or more miles over the speed limit)
- Having a BAC of twice the legal limit (0.16 or higher)
Mandatory Minimum Sentences Associated with DUI Convictions in Florida
The penalties associated with your DUI case will depend on the evidence involved and the strength of your DUI defense attorney. However, there are mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders. If you receive a first-time DUI with no aggravating factors, a mandatory minimum sentence will not apply to your case. If you receive a second DUI within five years of the first, then you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail. If you receive a third DUI within 10 years of the first two, then you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. If you caused the death of another person, then you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
Seek the Assistance of a DUI Attorney
If you’ve been charged with DUI in Florida, your first step should be to hire an attorney, as doing so will give you the best chances of avoiding a conviction or mitigating the consequences associated with a conviction. Your attorney should have experience handling both criminal defense and DUI cases, and should be well-versed in the many tactics and defenses that could be used to your advantage. There are numerous defenses to DUI charges—many of which the general public is completely unaware. Don’t face your DUI charge without a seasoned, skilled, and knowledgeable attorney by your side.