DUI - Different Sanctions

Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Representing Drivers in Clearwater

Driving under the influence is taken seriously in Florida. If you are charged with a DUI, you can face a wide range of different sanctions, depending on your history of prior offenses and whether anyone was injured or killed. Generally, the more prior convictions that you have, the more severe that the sanctions for a DUI will be. Clearwater DUI lawyer Will Hanlon is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the accused. Call us if you are arrested for or charged with a DUI or another motor vehicle offense, such as reckless driving.

The Range of Different Sanctions for a DUI

You can be convicted of a per se DUI if you physically control a car or another vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration of at least .08%. You can also be convicted of a DUI if the prosecutor proves that beyond a reasonable doubt, you were impaired to any degree because you consumed alcohol, drugs, or some combination of them.

A first offense DUI conviction can result in a sentence involving incarceration, a fine of up to $1,000, a license suspension, impoundment of your vehicle, and a requirement that you install an ignition interlock device at your own cost. You will also be required to serve 50 hours of community service. The court can also require that you serve time in a program to treat alcohol abuse or drug abuse. This time may be credited toward incarceration time.

If your blood alcohol content was below .15%, and you were not transporting a minor while driving under the influence, you are unlikely to spend more than six months incarcerated. However, if your blood alcohol content was .15% or more, or you were transporting minors, you can face nine months of incarceration and a $1,000-$2,000 fine.

If you drink and drive and cause serious bodily injuries to others, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. Under Florida Statute section 316.193, a DUI causing serious bodily injuries requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) you drove or were in actual physical control of a car, (2) while driving or in actual physical control of the car, you were under the influence, such that your faculties were impaired or your BAC was .08 or higher, and (3) because of operating the car, you caused or contributed to serious bodily injuries. As a third-degree felony charge, you face the possibility of 5 years incarcerated or on probation, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Additional convictions during what is known as a lookback period can result in more serious penalties. The lookback period may be 5 years or 10 years. A third DUI offense within 10 years is a third-degree felony, even if you were convicted of the earlier DUIs in another state. For the third-degree felony, you may have the mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail, but you can face up to 5 years in prison.

Once you have a fourth DUI conviction, you may be designated as a habitual felony offender. A fourth DUI conviction is a third-degree felony, and you may face a longer prison sentence. If you are designated as a habitual felony offender, you may face 10 years in prison, and you will not be able to get released for at least 5 years.

You should not assume that a conviction is inevitable, but you also should not take even a first offense lightly. An experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney may be able to get a dismissal or negotiate a plea deal. In some cases, it makes sense to challenge the constitutionality of the stop or the arrest. For example, if the officer pulled you over on a hunch, rather than for an articulable, legitimate reason, the arrest may be a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, and it may be possible to get evidence from the stop suppressed.

Hire an Experienced Motor Vehicle Crime Lawyer in Clearwater

Different sanctions for DUIs may be imposed, depending on the circumstances and the number of prior offenses. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused in the Clearwater area since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or use our online form to set up an appointment to discuss your case with an attorney. We also handle other motor vehicle offenses, such as leaving the scene of an accident or driving on a suspended license.