Even though they might not seem severe, DUI charges in Florida can result in long and serious consequences that can affect your life and your civil rights. As a result, if you were arrested for driving under the influence, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer.
For some people, driving after having a few drinks might not seem like such a big issue. Nevertheless, if law enforcement perceives that your faculties were imparied by alcohol or a controlled substance, you could be arrested and charged with a DUI offense.
In Tampa, a conviction for DUI can result in serious penalties including imprisonment, fines, probation, among other punishments. Although Florida law has very low tolerance for these types of crimes, there are some defenses that can help you obtain a more successful outcome. If you want to explore your legal options, you should talk to a DUI defense attorney.
What Constitutes DUI in Florida?
In Florida, a person commits a DUI offense if he or she was found driving or in physical control of a vehicle while their normal faculties were imparied by the consumption of alcohol or a controlled substance. If a person had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08% or more, they will be charged with DUI.
Tampa DUI laws are detailed in the Florida Statute § 316.193. According to this law, the elements of a DUI in Florida are:
- Driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle
- Being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (marijauna, painkillers)
- The defendant has a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more
Many people assume that a DUI charge arises from driving while being drunk or under the influence of drugs. However, it is important to note that Florida DUI laws establish that you could also face these charges if you are in physical control of a vehicle.
In simple terms, if law enforcement found you intoxicated in your vehicle and you had access to the keys, you might face DUI charges even if your car was not in motion. This is because, technically, you had actual physical control of the vehicle while your normal faculties were impaired.
Examples of having your “normal faculties impaired” include but are not limited to:
- Not being able to speak, see, hear, walk like you usually do.
- Weaving in the road.
- Having troubles judging distances.
- Not being able to keep your balance.
Being convicted for DUI results in a permanent criminal record, imprisonment, fines, and other penalties that will affect your future. In order to prevent this, you should have an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer on your side. Book an appointment with our defense attorneys.
Penalties for DUI in Tampa, Florida
In Florida, most DUIs are classified as misdemeanor offenses. Nevertheless, a third/fourth offense or more serious forms of DUI are considered felonies. Usually, first-time offenders can face up to 6 months in jail and a fine between $500 and $1,000, among other penalties.
Even though a Driving Under the Influence offense can be classified as a misdemeanor (or, in more aggravated cases, as a felony) the penalties for these offenses are slightly different than other crimes.
In other words, there are different factors to take into account when dictating sentencing for these offenses. Some of the factors that could affect sentencing include:
- Prior DUI convictions
- Damage to property
- Breath or blood content level above 0.15
- Offense caused the death or severe injuries to a person
- The offender was accompanied by a child
Below there is a penalty chart with the punishments associated with DUI charges in Florida:
|Offense||Maximum imprisonment||Fine||Suspension of driver license||Minimum Vehicle impoundment||Ignition interlock device|
|1st DUI||6 months||$500 – $1,000||6 months – 1 year||10 days||Not mandatory|
|1st DUI with BAC higher than 0.15 or a minor in the vehicle||9 months||$1,000 – $2,000||6 months – 1 year||10 days||6 months|
|2nd DUI||9 months||$1,000 – $2,000||5 years||30 days||1 year|
|2nd DUI with BAC higher than 0.15 or a minor in the vehicle||1 year||$2,000 – $5,000||5 years||10 days||2 years|
|3rd DUI (10 years after of prior conviction)||1 year||$2,000 – $5,000||6 months – Permanent revocation||10 days||2 years|
|3rd DUI (within 10 years of prior conviction)||5 years||$5,000||10 years||90 days||2 years|
|4th DUI||5 years||$2,000||Lifetime||90 days||2 years|
All offenders also have to attend DUI school. First offenders’ penalties include probation and 50 hours of community service.
Can you buy a gun with a DUI in Florida?
If you are convicted of a DUI charge in Florida, in addition to the penalties imposed, you will also face the loss of some civil rights including the ability to possess or carry a gun or ammunition. As a result, if you have a DUI, you cannot buy a gun in Florida.
Given that the penalties for a DUI offense are very severe, you need to take immediate action to protect your rights and future. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI in Hillsborough County, you should retain a defense lawyer.
Schedule a free consultation with the Tampa DUI lawyers at Goldman Wetzel. If you retain our services early in the process, we might be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce or drop your changes.
Can a DUI be expunged in Florida?
Under Florida law, DUI offenses are not eligible for sealing or expunging. In other words, if a person has been adjudicated guilty or accepted a plea bargain for a DUI offense, the record will not be eligible for these processes and the offense will remain permanently on the person’s criminal record.
Defenses for DUI Charges in Tampa
Without a doubt, a DUI charge in Tampa is a serious offense that carries harsh penalties. Nevertheless, there are different legal avenues available that your criminal lawyer can use for your defense.
Some of the most common defenses that the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel might be able to use include:
- Reasonable Suspicion: The police must have reasonable suspicion that you violated the law before pulling you over. Otherwise, we might demonstrate that yours was an unlawful stop. If your arrest involved a sobriety checkpoint, we can challenge the legality of that checkpoint. If that challenge succeeds, the court might throw out any subsequent evidence.
- Probable Cause: The police must establish probable cause before arresting you and asking you to submit to BAC testing. The Goldman Wetzel attorneys will analyze any available video footage of field sobriety tests and interview any potential witnesses (e.g., other officers, passengers in your vehicle) to determine whether the officer acted properly when administering these tests.
- Breathalyzer Testing: Breath testing equipment can fail or return inaccurate results. If law enforcement failed to maintain, calibrate or test the equipment properly, or if the technician who administered the test lacked the proper qualifications, the court could disallow the results.
All criminal allegations have different factors that need to be taken into account when building a strong defense. If you want to know more about the possible strategies for your case, get in touch with a DUI attorney so they can investigate your situation.
Talk to a Tampa DUI Lawyer
Even if you think that you had control over your vehicle, if your BAC is above the legal limit, you could face charges for BUI or DUI. Florida has very low tolerance for driving under the influence, as a result, these accusations can result in long and severe punishments.
You owe it to yourself and your family to have aggressive and effective legal representation that can help you overcome these charges. If you are accused of DUI in Hillsborough County, contact our Tampa DUI lawyers today. Call us at (888) 727-4652 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.