DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. It means a person drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances impair a person’s ability to drive. Drunk driving can cause a car accident or costly speed limit violations. It can even lead to injury, death and jail time. To avoid these outcomes and the loss of driving privileges, don’t drink and drive.
DUI in Florida
Sometimes we don’t follow through on our best intentions. This is especially true when alcohol clouds our thoughts. It is good to know the law should you ever be pulled over for suspected DUI in Florida.
The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% in every state. If your BAC level meets or exceeds this limit, you’ll be charged DUI. Florida DUI laws are very strict. A DUI offense is a first degree misdemeanor. This means it’s less serious than a felony charge. First offenders should consult with a DUI defense attorney. They may be able to help reduce your DUI to a Reckless Driving conviction.
What is an Aggravated DUI?
If aggravating factors are present in your case, a DUI becomes an aggravated DUI. It is also known as Felony DUI or Extreme DUI. It is usually considered a felony instead of a misdemeanor and carries more penalties. Aggravating factors can vary between states. Below are some that appear in Florida state law.
Children Present in Vehicle
It is a serious offense if you are pulled over for DUI with minor children present. This is also the case if you are pulled over in a school zone.
Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License
Drunk driving with a suspended or revoked license shows complete disregard for the law. Penalties increase when people do this, resulting in aggravated DUI.
Repeat DUI Offender
If a driver has a dui conviction already on their record, then they are a repeat offender. They have broken the law at least twice. The court will be less lenient in these kinds of cases. The prior DUI conviction could have happened in Florida or out-of-state. Stricter penalties are given so the person won’t keep repeating the same mistake.
Seriously or fatally injuring another person is cause for an aggravated DUI charge.
Excessive Speeding or Reckless Driving
The addition of an excessive speed charge results in an aggravated DUI. Driving 30 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit is considered excessive. Reckless driving is factored in as well. It is defined as a willful disregard for the safety of others. Driving the wrong way on a one way street or on the wrong side of the road are reckless acts. Ignoring traffic signals, the presence of children and speed limits are all factors too.
High Blood Alcohol Level
You’ll be charged with an aggravated DUI if your BAC level is two or more times the legal limit. Your blood alcohol concentration would be .08% or above. The amount of alcohol you can drink before reaching the legal limit differs from person to person. There are three tests used to determine BAC. Blood and urine chemical tests are performed by trained medical staff. A breath test via breathalyzer is the most common test. It is conducted by a police officer. You you can refuse the test, but be aware it can lead to driver’s license suspension. Findings from these tests can be presented as evidence in court.
DUI vs. Aggravated DUI
The presence of aggravating factors is not the only difference between a DUI and an aggravated DUI. The penalties differ as well. Drivers with an aggravated DUI charge may face greater penalties as shown below.
|$250-$500 fine||$2,000-$5,000 fine|
|50 hours community service||50 hours community service|
|Probation (1 year max.)||Probation (5 years max.)|
|Prison sentence (6 months max.)||Imprisonment in State Prison (5 years max.)|
|License revocation (minimum of 180 days)||License revocation (for life)|
|DUI school (12 hours)||DUI school (21 hours)|
|Vehicle impounded (10 days)||Vehicle impounded (90 days)|
|Mandatory use of ignition interlock device|
|Alcohol treatment program|
|Permanent criminal record with felony conviction|
|Pay reparations for personal injury and/or property damage|
This above chart is just a quick summary of the possible DUI conviction penalties. There are many levels of offenders and factors that influence the outcome of each case. It should be noted though that for first time offenders, there is no mandatory minimum for imprisonment. For second offenders within 5 years, the minimum term for prison is 10 days. For your third offense within 10 years, you are jailed for at least 30 days. If you caused a fatality, your minimum mandatory sentence is 4 years in state prison.
Aggravated DUI Defense
First time and repeat offenders should always seek out counsel from a qualified lawyer. DUI can be a difficult charge to face. You’ll need an attorney with experience in criminal defense and DUI law. There are many DUI defense strategies that can be employed to help you beat a charge. Your case should be looked at in detail, especially if issues with the police and their investigation methods occured. DUI defense attorneys can help explain the law and represent you in court. Contact Denmon & Pearlman today for a free consultation to discuss your situation.