3 Things You Should Know About DUIs in Florida
Drunk driving consistently ranks among the leading causes of accident fatalities in the U.S. and states such as Florida continue to crack down. Driven by alarming statistics, law enforcement officials often feel immense pressure to pursue DUI charges.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes overzealous officers and prosecutors push charges that may not be warranted. That’s why it is imperative that Floridians understand the nature, penalties, and process of DUI allegations. Without basic knowledge or effective legal representation, you could suffer unnecessarily high fines, loss of license or even serve jail time. These are three things you should know.
1: Physical Control of a Vehicle Matters
In Florida, a person can be charged with DUI even if you are not operating a vehicle. The standard is whether you have the ability to operate the vehicle at the time you are charged. The practical application of the law means that you have the keys, are inside the vehicle, and it is functional. Whether the engine is running is not necessarily important. Drivers who pull over because they suspect their blood alcohol is rising would be wise to exit the vehicle.
2: You Can Refuse a Breath, Blood or Urine Test
It’s true that you can refuse, but with a caveat. Americans are generally free to decline tests when law enforcement officials request them. The caveat is that Florida and other states operate under the theory that you already gave “implied consent” by having a driver’s license.
Automatic penalties could be imposed such as loss of license or misdemeanor charges in some cases. However, a legal defense may be mounted that shows the officer in question had no right to request an alcohol test in the first place.
3: Repeat DUI Offenders Face Jail Time
Brushes with the law often result in everyday people accumulating a bad record that can bring about heightened penalties. In Florida, a first DUI offense can carry up to six months in jail, a $2,000 fine and 180 days loss of license.
Jail time for first-time offenders tends to be out of the ordinary. Repeat offenders, however, can face up to five years behind bars and permanent loss of license. If you have been wrongly charged with DUI, it’s important to fight those charges because a real mistake could prove costly later. Multiple convictions increase the likelihood you go to jail.
Florida law enforcement reportedly handed out more than 43,000 DUI violations in 2017 and prosecutors secured more than 24,000 convictions. The difference between an accusation and conviction often comes down to having a defense attorney who challenges the state’s case against you. If you have been charged with DUI, call Yardley Law.