| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Florida’s Zero Tolerance for Underage DUI

Drunk drivers cause considerable damage on Florida’s roads. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 5,000 crashes were caused by drunk drivers in 2016. These wrecks caused 461 deaths and over 3,000 injuries—staggering numbers that cost the state millions of dollars a year. Because those under 21 cannot legally consume alcohol, Florida unsurprisingly has a zero tolerance policy for underage DUI. If you or a loved one has been picked up for driving while intoxicated, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Legal Limit Under Florida law, drivers must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under 0.08. If your BAC is higher, then you have committed a DUI. Drivers under 21 have an even lower maximum BAC: any score of 0.02 or higher qualifies. This means that a single drink can render a young driver legally intoxicated. Punishments are serious for those who are under 21: You will lose your license for six months in an administrative suspension if this is your first offense. If it is a second offense, then you will lose your license for a year. If you refused to take a roadside test, your license will be suspended for a year. If this is your second or subsequent refusal, your license will be suspended for 18 months. If your BAC was 0.08% or higher, then you will receive the same punishments as an adult would. You can pay a fine of $500-1,000, have your license suspended for 180 days to 1 year, perform 50 hours of community service, and spend up to 6 months in county jail. The state can also impound your vehicle. If you were picked up for DUI and are under the age of 18, then you will lose your license for six months and must undergo a mandatory evaluation or complete an alcohol education program. Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction Losing your license for 6 months and doing some community service might not sound like stiff punishments. You might even get your parents to pay your fine for you. However, criminal convictions have repercussions that can last a long time and can make it hard for young adults to establish themselves. With a criminal record, you might experience the following: It can be harder to get an apartment It might be harder to obtain a job Your preferred college or university might reject you You might not qualify for scholarships You might not gain acceptance into the military For these reasons, you must take any arrest for under-21 DUI very seriously. At Moses & Rooth, we can review the circumstances surrounding your arrest and identify your strongest defense. Charged with an Under-21 DUI in Orlando? DUI is no laughing matter. The costs can be considerable and long-lasting. By contacting one of our Orlando DUI attorneys, you can give yourself the best chance of a favorable outcome, whether that involves a generous plea deal or fighting your charges in court. To learn more about how we can help you, please call 407-377-0150 to schedule your free consultation.

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Mom, Dad, I’ve been arrested for DUI: What to Do as a Parent

Every Florida parent is nervous when their teenager gets his or her driver’s license. Your biggest worry is that they will get into a serious car accident. But you should also be concerned about the possibility of a drunk driving arrest. Although teenage drunk driving has decreased significantly over the past two decades, it is still a major problem. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 percent of teenagers in high school drink and drive. While they might not sound like a lot, the CDC also notes that drivers under the age of 20 “are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent than when they have not been drinking.” Florida’s Zero-Tolerance Policies for Teens Who Drive Drunk That is why Florida, like most states, takes a “zero-tolerance” approach to teens and drunk driving. While a blood-alcohol 0.08 percent is the normal threshold for adult DUI, for drivers under the age of 21–the legal drinking age–it is 0.02 percent. This means that if your teenager drives after having just one drink, he or she can be legally charged with DUI. Under Florida law, a police officer who has “probable cause” to suspect your teen of drunk driving has the right to request they take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test. If they take the test and fail, their license will be automatically suspended for 6 months. If they refuse the test altogether, the penalty is doubled–a 1-year suspension. In addition, if your child’s blood-alcohol level is determined to be at least 0.05 percent, he or she must complete a substance abuse program licensed by the state before they can regain their legal driving privileges. The Steps to Take Following a DUI Arrest If your child has been arrested, it is important to sit down and discuss what happened in a calm, rational manner. Your child needs to understand that drunk driving has serious consequences. But yelling or belittling your child–i.e., “How could you be so stupid?”–will accomplish nothing. An arrest is a scary experience for anyone, much less a teen who might otherwise have never been in trouble with the law before. Your first priority should be gathering as much information about the arrest as possible. You need to know who your child was with, where they were drinking, how much they had to drink, and so forth. Once again, remaining calm during this discussion will encourage your teenager to be more forthcoming with details. After your initial shock and anger subsides, your next steps need to involve getting your child professional help. If you suspect your child has a drinking or substance abuse problem, you should seek out a therapist who specializes in helping teenagers. And of course, you will need an experienced Orlando DUI defense attorney to handle the legal aftermath of the DUI arrest. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 today if you need immediate legal assistance.

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The End of Florida’s “Liquor Wall”?

 Florida residents may soon have more options when it comes to purchasing liquor. On April 26 the House of Representatives approved a bill that would end most of Florida’s restrictions on selling alcohol with other merchandise by 2021. Proponents argue lifting this “liquor wall” will benefit consumers and free markets, while critics say it will hurt local businesses and lead to increased problems with underage drinking and DUI. Legislature Votes to End Restrictions by 2021 Currently, Florida law prohibits vendors that sell alcoholic beverages from offering any unrelated merchandise for sale in the same space. Alcohol must either be sold in standalone liquor stores or in a separate retail space, i.e. a side store separated by a wall. But you cannot, for instance, legally sell hard liquor on the same shelves as regular groceries. Last December bills were introduced in both houses of the Florida legislature to gradually end this requirement. The Florida Senate passed its bill, SB 106, on March 23 by a vote of 21-17. The margin was even just a single vote in the House, which agreed to SB 106 on a 58-57 vote. Dubbed the “Whiskey and Wheaties” bill by some, the legislation would open the door for selling hard liquor alongside beer and wine in many grocery and “big box” stores. SB 106 would actually phase in the easing of restrictions starting on July 1, 2018, with a complete repeal taking effect on June 30, 2021. Retailers Spar Over Potential Effects of Ending the Wall Perhaps not surprisingly, the legislation has drawn battle lines between smaller, family-owned liquor stores and larger retailers. Florida Businesses Unite, which promotes the slogan “Keep the Wall,” argued SB 106 is “merely an attempt by out-of-state companies to change the rules midgame in an effort to seek an unfair advantage.” The group further claimed that large anchor stores in shopping centers will use their newfound ability to sell liquor as a pretext for driving smaller competitors out of the market. On the opposite side, Floridians for Fair Business Practices said SB 106 will make it more “convenient” to buy liquor and that 30 states already “allow distilled liquor to be sold alongside other adult beverages.” The group also pointed to research suggesting that expanding the retail availability of liquor will not curb underage drinking. Are You Facing DUI or Underage Drinking Charges in the Orlando Area? Regardless of whether SB 106 becomes law, the rules governing DUI and underage drinking will not change. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcohol in the State of Florida. And any adult with a blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent (0.02 percent if you are under 21) is considered criminal drunk driving. You may also face stiffer criminal penalties if a police officer finds an open container of liquor in your vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest, even if you are over 21 and purchased the alcohol legally. If you are facing a DUI charge and need help from an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150.

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Underage Drinking: Understanding Florida’s MIP Laws

While it may seem fun, underage drinking is never a good idea. This is particularly true when you consider that the Florida laws that deal with underage drinking have become increasingly stringent over the years. Punishment for underage drinking can impact more people than just the intoxicated teen. There can be legal consequences for any minor who transports or  possesses alcohol. There are also legal consequences for anyone who provides alcohol to minors. Simply selling or serving alcohol to minors may result in serious legal consequences. If your teen has been charged with underaged drinking or if you have been accused or providing alcohol to minors, this article will help you understand Florida’s underage drinking laws. Defining Minor in Possession of Alcohol Florida’s Minor in Possession of Alcohol laws establish 21 as the legal drinking age and it illegal for minors to drink, transport or sell alcohol. Anyone under 21-years-old found in possession of alcohol, including liquor, wine, beer and mixed drinks, could face criminal minor in possession of alcohol charges. Teenagers do not have to be caught holding an alcoholic drink to be charged with this offense. A minor can be accused of minor in possession if the beverage is within their reach or under their control. The Consequences of Underage Drinking Under Florida law, the possession of alcoholic beverages by minors is a generally a second-degree misdemeanor. Teens convicted of this crime may face serious penalties which include: First Offense: a second degree misdemeanor, $500 fine and serve up to 60 days in jail.   Second Offense: a first degree misdemeanor, $1,000 fine and serve up to one year in jail. Additionally, the court may direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to deny, revoke or suspend a teen’s driver’s license and driving privileges. Similar to charges related to underage drinking, the length of time a minor’s driving license is suspended increases if a minor is a repeat offender: First Offense: license suspended for six months to one year. Following Offenses: license suspended for up to two years.   MIP Laws Make it Illegal to Provide Minors with Alcohol It is also illegal for any adult to provide alcohol to minors. Anyone who sells or supplies alcohol to minors will be held legally responsible for any injury or harm caused by the minor. This law means that adults who allow teens to drink at their home, bar, or restaurant may face stiff legal repercussions for giving teens alcohol. You may face second degree misdemeanor charges and penalties which include fines up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail. Seek Help From an Attorney If you have been charged as a minor in possession of alcohol or any crime related to underage drinking, you should contact Moses & Rooth. We understand the complexity of Florida’s MIP laws and can help guide you and your teen through the process. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

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