When you see the lights of a police car flashing behind you, it can be one of the most unnerving moments you experience in life. Making matters even scarier is if police suspect you have been driving while under the influence.
In Florida, you will find some of the most stringent DUI-related laws throughout the United States. Thus, your first question after police have stopped you for drunk driving is how much trouble you have just gotten yourself into. Fortunately, if you are facing a charge of driving under the influence, you have the right to fight back through the criminal justice system.
Florida drunk driving laws
According to Florida law, when your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher, you are legally considered too inebriated to drive safely. Your first offense can lead to the suspension of your license for an entire year. In addition, penalties for a drunk driving conviction include having to forfeit your automobile and use an interlock ignition device. Other penalties include paying large sums of money in fines and even spending years in prison, depending on the situation.
If you are presumably driving under the influence and cause damage to someone else’s property or injure another person, you will face a misdemeanor charge in the first degree. Your penalties for a conviction include paying a fine of up to $1,000 or spending a year behind bars.
Felonies related to driving under the influence carry much stricter penalties. For instance, with a first-degree felony conviction for DUI, you could spend 30 years in prison and/or pay a $10,000 fine. First-degree felony charges arise if you killed somebody due to drunk driving and left the accident scene.
Meanwhile, you can expect to spend five years behind bars and/or pay a $5,000 fine maximum if convicted of a third-degree DUI felony. Examples of this type of felony include receiving a DUI conviction for the third time in 10 years, facing a fourth or higher DUI, or causing serious injury to someone else while operating a motor vehicle under the influence.
Just because authorities claim you have engaged in drunk driving does not mean you are automatically guilty in a court of law. A qualified attorney in Florida can question the results of any sobriety test you took and can challenge any of the procedures that police used at the time of your arrest. Your attorney’s ultimate goal will be to get your charges reduced or removed altogether based on your particular case’s circumstances.