Hundreds of people are arrested for drunk driving each year in the Orlando area. In Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) can lead to serious criminal and administrative penalties. With that in mind, here are a few things you need to know about how DUI laws work in Orlando.
What Is Considered “Drunk Driving” in Florida?
The most common definition of DUI is operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. A person’s BAC is normally determined through the use of a Breathalyzer or similar device administered to the driver by law enforcement. But it’s important to note that BAC is not the sole method of establishing drunk driving. A person is guilty of DUI anytime their “normal faculties are impaired” while behind the wheel, which may be established by other evidence, such as testimony that the defendant was driving erratically.
DUI Is Not Just About Alcohol
Although we normally associate DUI with alcohol, in fact the law refers to driving under the influence of any “chemical substance” or controlled substance specified in state law. This can include anything from marijuana to nitrous oxide. Again, the key is whether or not the person was impaired due to the use of the chemical.
You Can Go to Jail for DUI–Even a First Offense
If you are charged, tried, and convicted of DUI for the first time in Orlando, the judge has the discretion to fine you between $500 and $1,000–as well as send you to jail for up to 6 months. Jail is not mandatory mind you, but it is a possibility. And if you are in court for your second DUI, the penalty range increases accordingly: a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 and up to 9 months in jail.
There Are Additional Factors That May Enhance Your Sentence
Two things that will make a DUI charge worse: Having a BAC of 0.15 percent or greater, or having a minor in the vehicle with you at the time of your arrest. Either of these factors will effectively double the range of fines listed above.
Your Driver’s License Will Be Suspended
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is required to suspend a driver’s license for at least 180 days following a first DUI conviction. This suspension may last up to one year. And if the DUI resulted in “bodily injury” to another person, the minimum suspension period goes up to 3 years.
Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Has Consequences
Florida is an “implied consent” state. This means that if Orlando police have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, it’s presumed you consent to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your BAC. You can still refuse the test, but it will result in an automatic 1-year suspension of your driver’s license if this is your first offense.
You Need to Call an Orlando DUI Defense Lawyer
Although a drunk driving charge may seem like no big deal at first glance, it is a criminal matter and must be treated as such. This means you need to work with an experienced Orlando DUI defense attorney who understands the local legal system and can advise you on the appropriate steps to take. Contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today. Call (407) 377-0150.