DUI laws always focus on the greater good, and Florida is no different. The state’s laws are designed to protect everyone on the road, including drivers and passengers. As such, it is important for anyone who has been arrested for a DUI to understand how these laws apply to them and what they can do to protect themselves.
Drunk driving charges are serious crimes that can have long-lasting effects on your everyday life. An experienced criminal defense attorney should be contacted if you have been charged with DUI.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between DWI and DUI and more specifically how these terms apply to statutes in Florida. As well, we’ll discuss associated penalties and provide some helpful tips.
What is the Difference Between a DWI and DUI?
The official term for the crime of drunk driving in Florida is DUI. Essentially, the terms DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired or intoxicated) are used interchangeably. However, the charge itself in the state of Florida is DUI.
Why the Separate Terms?
In the United States, each state is allowed to use the term DUI or DWI for identifying drunk driving penalties. Some states use both terms whereby DWI carries harsher consequences, while others use only DWI or DUI. However, in all cases, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is the benchmark. The severity of the penalty will then be based on the circumstances around the offense.
What is a DUI?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is the act of driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs to the extent that your blood or breath alcohol level exceeds the legal limit.
In Florida, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher (and 0.04% for commercial drivers). Many people think that a DUI applies only to alcohol. However, this is not the case. A driver can also be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of controlled substances, including either prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Penalties for DUI
A DUI charge can result in fines, jail time, and a driver’s license suspension. In most cases, a first-offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor crime. Overall, the penalties for DUI in Florida are pretty tough. Let’s take a look at the specifics.
If you’re caught driving while intoxicated, the penalties depend on whether the police officer was able to test your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest. If they didn’t have a chance to test your BAC, then you’ll be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and face up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, if they were able to test your BAC and it was above 0.08%, then you’ll be charged with a second-degree felony and face up to 5 years in prison along with a $5,000 fine.
If you have no prior DUI convictions, your first DUI is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
If you have one prior conviction, your second DUI is also a misdemeanor, punishable by up to nine months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you have two or more prior convictions, however, your second DUI will be classified as a third-degree felony. This means that if convicted of this offense you can be sentenced to at least three years in prison and fined up to $5,000.
Potential Risks of DUI
Drinking and driving can lead to serious risks for both the driver and other passengers in the car. For instance, a driver who is intoxicated may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid a collision.
Drunk drivers are also more likely to be in a collision because they often drive too fast or make poor decisions while behind the wheel. Additionally, alcohol can affect judgment, coordination, and reflexes, making it difficult for drivers to safely operate a vehicle. Those who choose to drink, and drive put themselves and others at risk for serious injury or death.
How to Avoid DUI Charges
It’s no secret that driving under the influence (DUI) can lead to serious legal penalties. But what many drivers may not know is that there are ways to avoid getting a DUI charge in the first place.
The best way to avoid a drunk driving charge is to not drink and drive. However, if you’re going to be drinking, make sure you have a designated driver who will abstain from alcohol and drive you home. If you can’t find a designated driver, there are other options available. You can call a taxi or Uber, or even stay the night at a friend’s house.
If you do find yourself behind the wheel after drinking, be aware of the signs that you’re too drunk to drive. And make sure that if you get pulled over for suspicion of DUI, be polite and cooperative with law enforcement officers.
Helpful Tips and Social Responsibility
When it comes to driving, alcohol, and drugs can impair judgment and reflexes. This can lead to serious accidents, including fatalities.
Here are some helpful tips to be socially responsible:
- If you are hosting a party, provide plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and make sure all guests leave sober.
- Don’t drive with friends who are drunk, even if they say they’ll be alright to drive themselves home later (they probably won’t be).
- Call a trusted friend or family member who will come to pick you up and take care of your vehicle until you are able to return.
- If you see someone driving erratically, call 911 immediately.
If You Need Help Contact Hanlon Law
While some states may have separate penalties for DUI and DWI charges, it’s important to know that in Florida drunk driving is classified as DUI. Driving under the influence is a serious charge that can result in jail time and heavy fines.
If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help you navigate the legal system. Contact Hanlon Law today to get the legal advice you need to fight your charges.
600 Cleveland St #1100
Clearwater, FL 33755