The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately one-third of the traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver. Although a recent study showed that DUI deaths were down across the state, in Florida, there were 5,125 alcohol-related crashes in 2017. St. Petersburg is the most dangerous city in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area, with 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents.
A DUI conviction can impact many parts of your life, including your freedom and your right to drive. If you are facing a DUI charge, you need an experienced St. Petersburg DUI defense attorney by your side.
Some states use the terms DUI and DWI (driving while impaired) interchangeably, but in Florida, the charge is known as DUI, and it stands for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Under Florida law, you can be charged with a DUI if you drove or were in physical control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, or some other medical or controlled substance. To convict you of the charge, the prosecution must provide evidence that you were impaired, or that your blood-alcohol level was more than 0.08, which means that at least 0.08 percent of your blood sample was alcohol.
Especially if this is your first DUI charge, the legal proceedings may be confusing and stressful. Legal procedures may include:
DUI laws vary from state to state. You may think that a first time DUI is not a big deal, but the consequences can be serious. In Florida, first and second DUI offenses are usually charged as a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses within ten years, or a DUI that involves an injury or death, are charged as a felony. These offenses may carry a penalty of a 15-year prison sentence and up to a $10,000 fine.
The punishment for a first DUI offense is:
If a driver receives their second DUI in five years, they will:
If it has been more than five years since their previous DUI, the penalties are less severe. Generally, the driver will only lose their license for 180 days or less and will spend up to ten days in prison.
A third DUI in Florida is considered a third-degree felony. The driver will:
Drivers who are convicted of a fourth DUI in Florida are not eligible for a license for the rest of their lives and have their car impounded for 90 days. The minimum fine is $2,000. They may spend up to five years in prison. Beyond the fourth offense, fines increase at the judge’s discretion.
In addition to court-imposed penalties, DUIs come with long-term consequences. A DUI shows up on background checks and can impact opportunities like jobs, education, child custody, commercial driver licenses, security clearances, and immigration proceedings.
If you are accused of a DUI, your attorney will explore the possible defenses given the circumstances of your case. Possible challenges to a DUI charge may include:
Whether this is your first offense or you have previous convictions, a DUI charge is serious. Consult an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call the Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300.