If you are arrested for drunk driving in Fort Lauderdale, one of the worst things you can do is try to navigate the legal system on your own. Even first-time offenders can face severe penalties and long-term consequences – some they may not even realize are at stake – when they don’t have someone who knows the law advocating on their behalf.
More than 32,000 people each year are arrested in Florida for drunk driving, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. An analysis based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention indicated there was a 30 percent increase in the Florida DUI arrest rate from 2014 to 2018. Although we don’t yet have statewide data on 2020 DUI arrests in Florida, a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicated alcohol sales spiked sharply during the pandemic (increasing in Florida by nearly 8 percent). That could be linked with an uptick in arrests for DUI.
Our Fort Lauderdale DUI attorneys are committed to helping those accused of drunk driving or impaired driving fight the charges and the most serious repercussions associated with them.
Florida DUI Laws
If you’re facing DUI charges in Florida, it’s important to understand the possible outcomes in your case. That starts with having a basic grasp of the state laws on impaired driving.
Florida Statutes Section 316.193 indicates that driving under the influence can be proven if prosecutors can show a person drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle while either under the influence of alcohol or chemical substances (including prescriptions) to the extent his/her normal faculties were impaired OR while he/she had a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
In cases involving alcohol impairment, blood tests and breathalyzer analyses are typically central. Where drugs are involved, it’s not always easy for prosecutors to show impairment with a chemical test. (A chemical test may prove someone consumed marijuana at some point, but that alone may not be enough to prove they were high at the time they were driving.) One’s “normal faculties” may include (but aren’t limited to) the ability to walk, talk, see, hear, make judgments, ascertain distances, act in emergencies, drive a vehicle and generally perform the mental and physical acts of daily life.
If you are a first-time offender convicted of this charge, you will face:
- Up to six months in jail.
- A fine of up to $1,000.
- Possibility of required ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle at your own expense.
- License suspension.
- Permanent mark on your criminal record.
All of this assumes, of course, that you weren’t in a crash (and didn’t leave the scene of a crash), didn’t hurt anyone, weren’t driving with someone under 18 in the car at the time of your arrest, don’t have any previous criminal history and didn’t have a BAC of .15 or higher. All of these will be grounds for steeper penalties.
Consider too that if you’re involved in a divorce or child custody/parenting time dispute, a drunk driving conviction could potentially impact those proceedings.
Effective Defense to DUI
Impaired driving is one of the more complex practice areas in criminal law. There is often considerable evidence to weigh, some of it highly technical. The good news is there are many defenses we can employ to contest these charges, or at the very least, help to minimize the worst consequences.
We may contest whether our client was in possession of their normal faculties. We will challenge any invalid results or procedures that were used in collecting biological evidence (breathalyzers, urine tests, blood tests, etc.). If there is any evidence of an invalid traffic stop, requests for field sobriety exercises, lack of implied consent warnings or improper testing, we will seek to suppress the evidence gained therein under the exclusionary rule, fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine or other legal grounds. There could be evidence that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered, which could be reason for the court to toss that evidence. We might contest the state’s evidence on the identity of the driver or whether our client was truly in actual physical control of the vehicle. If there are any inaccuracies/biases from investigating officer, we may seek to have certain evidence or testimony excluded.
Even when there aren’t any viable defenses, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can often help to have your penalties substantially reduced through adept negotiations with the State Attorney’s Office (prosecution).
If you have questions following a Fort Lauderdale DUI arrest and are considering hiring a lawyer (which you should), we offer free initial consultations to help you make a decision.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Driving Under the Influence – DUI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
More Blog Entries:
Arrested on Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale? A South Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help., March 1, 2021, Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney Blog