02 Jul 10 Things You Should Know About DUI Laws
Driving under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Florida. The law regards a person as driving under the influence if the person is affected by any controlled substance to the degree that their normal abilities are impaired. They can also be deemed guilty of DUI if their blood alcohol concentration or breathe alcohol level is 0.08% or higher.
Florida takes such a hard stance on DUI offenses that you do not need to be actually driving a vehicle while under the influence to be deemed guilty. Also, you do not need to be drunk to be considered under the influence. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, and your blood alcohol levels return a reading of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.
If you or your loved one has been charged with DUI, it is essential to know what that means for you, what defenses are available to you, and how a DUI defense lawyer can help you. This article details 10 things you should know about DUI laws in Florida.
#1: Florida DUI convictions can either be total DUI or “per se” DUI
A person whose normal faculties have been obviously impaired will be charged with driving under the influence. For per se DUI, however, you do not need to be obviously impaired. If your BAC is 0.08% or greater, you will be deemed guilty of per se DUI.
#2: You do not need to be actually driving a vehicle to be held guilty
Florida’s DUI statute states that
“A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages….”
In actual physical control of a vehicle means that you could control the vehicle whether or not you were exercising this capacity when you were accused of DUI. This means that even if you were merely sitting behind the wheel with the key in the ignition and not moving the car, you were in actual physical control. Thus, if you are found with a BAC of 0.08% at that time, you will be charged with a DUI; it does not matter that you were not actually driving.
#3: A blood alcohol level of 0.08% does not mean a presumption of guilt
Yes, you have been found with a BAC of 0.08%. This, however, does not mean that you are automatically presumed guilty. Since it is the state of Florida that is bringing a charge against you, the burden of proof is on them. The constitution holds that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So even if your BAC was 0.08% or higher, do not throw in the towel. Instead, get yourself an expert criminal DUI defense lawyer and set the ball rolling on defending yourself.
#4: No matter how much you want to, do not refuse to take an alcohol test
Yes, it can be tempting to reject an alcohol test because you feel you will be charged with a DUI. Unfortunately, that will be a bad idea because of Florida’s implied consent law. The implied consent law says that by accepting to drive a vehicle on Florida’s roads, you are deemed to have given your consent to be subjected to testing for the presence of controlled substances in your body. You could be subjected to either the testing of your breath for alcohol or your urine for the presence of controlled substances.
You may refuse to take the test, but your refusal will come with consequences because of the implied consent laws. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend your license for a time. In addition, a refusal to submit to testing can be used as evidence against you during your criminal trial. The crux of the matter is that a refusal to submit for testing can hurt your case immeasurably.
#5: What happens if you are arrested for DUI?
Florida law allows an arresting officer to seize the driver’s license of a person found with unlawful blood alcohol levels or who has refused to submit to testing. Thus the officer will hold your license and issue you a traffic ticket which serves as a notice of suspension of your driver’s license.
Defending a DUI charge
DUI charges can be defended in two significant ways: we can challenge the constitutionality of the arrest or contest the DUI charge itself. We can do this in any of the following ways:
#6 Challenging the traffic stop
It is your Fourth Amendment right to be subjected to any search, seizure, or arrest only when such is reasonable. In the context of traffic stops, the arresting officer must show probable cause for the traffic stop.
#7 Challenging the legality of the DUI Arrest
Law enforcement officers cannot arrest a driver for DUI unless they have probable cause for the arrest. They must show that the driver showed signs of impairment, which warranted the arrest. If they cannot prove that the driver was impaired due to a controlled substance, all evidence gathered as a result of the arrest may be dismissed.
We can also challenge the arrest if there was no video evidence of the arrest taking place. Suppose the officer did not record the arrest. In that case, we can argue that the arrest was not recorded because the officer acted in bad faith, knowing that a videotape of the arrest would have given enough reason to dismiss the case.
#8 Questioning whether the officer advised the driver of the implied consent
If a person chooses to reject testing at a DUI traffic stop, the traffic officer must advise them about implied consent and warn them of the consequences of rejecting the test. The officer must also read the warning properly. If one of the charges against you was that you rejected testing, we will question whether the officer properly advised you of the consequences of rejecting testing. If the officer did not do a proper job of warning you, we could request that the evidence of you rejecting the test be struck from your trial.
#9 Challenging elements of the prosecution’s case
We can challenge some elements of the prosecution’s case, such as:
- The field sobriety tests
- Questioning whether the officer properly administered or graded the tests
- Questioning whether the officer knew that the suspect had medical problems (if any) and whether the officer considered those medical problems.
- If English is not the primary language of the suspect, we can use this to weaken the prosecution’s case.
#10 Challenging the test results
We can challenge the test results in different ways, such as requesting an independent retesting of the sample drawn from you.
Let us help you with your DUI criminal defense
A DUI conviction comes with terrible consequences. Aside from the punishments of fines, community service, or jail times, having a conviction on one’s record makes life difficult in the future.
A criminal record restricts a person’s access to benefits like suitable employment, access to loans and grants, and education in choice schools. In addition to these restrictions, having a DUI conviction can cause a person to lose their insurance coverage and make it difficult to access new coverage. This is because insurance companies will view the person as a “high-risk” individual and shy away from providing coverage.
All things said, a DUI conviction is terrible for you. At Sara Jones Law, we understand this, and that is why we will fight tooth and nail to give you the best possible criminal defense. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.