A DUI is an acronym for ‘driving under the influence.’ In Florida, it is defined as either driving or being in control of a vehicle while your usual faculties are impaired by a substance. DUI laws in Florida prohibit being in control of a vehicle while you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above. The law also prohibits people from driving when their capacities are impaired by drugs, including both legal and illegal substances.
A DUI conviction can be life-changing. DUI penalties range from mandatory classes, counseling sessions, and community services to court costs, expensive fines, probation, suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail time.
At The Law Place, our law firm has over 75 years of combined experience in Florida law. Our DUI attorneys in Tampa, Florida, are ready to fight your case and do everything we can to help you. We are available 24 hours a day so that you can seek advice when you really need it. A DUI arrest can change your life forever, but we can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers at no obligation to you.
What Are the Penalties for DUI?
No matter how severe the charge for drunk driving is, the penalties are harsh. The state of Florida takes the crime of driving under the influence very seriously. Depending on the severity of the incident can impact the penalties an offender will face.
For a first DUI conviction with a blood alcohol concentration under 0.15%, an offender will likely be charged with the following:
- Up to a $1,000 fine.
- Up to six months imprisonment.
- 50 hours of community service.
- Probation of up to one year.
- Level 1 DUI school.
- Vehicle impoundment for 10 days.
- A revocation of a driving license anywhere between 180 days and one year.
First-time convictions with a BAC above 0.15% carry much more severe penalties. It will typically be required that offenders who test over the limit to a great extent install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
The amount of time between your convictions can impact the penalties you face. For example, if you are charged with DUI within five years of your first offense, a judge must impose that you serve a minimum of 10 days in jail and have your license revoked for five years.
Some of the typical penalties for a second DUI offense include:
- Up to a $2,000 fine.
- Up to nine months of imprisonment.
- Probation of up to one year.
- Level 2 DUI school.
- Vehicle impoundment for 30 days.
- A revocation of a driving license anywhere between 180 days and one year.
- A minimum of six months of installation of an ignition interlock device.
You can be charged with a felony DUI if you are charged with your third offense within ten years. Additionally, you will receive a felony conviction if it is the fourth offense in your lifetime, if you cause manslaughter, or cause serious bodily injury.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence and have caused the death of a person or the loss of a pregnancy, you will be facing a second-degree felony conviction. This is a serious offense. If convicted, you could face up to 15 years imprisonment and fines worth up to $10,000. There are further penalties that offenders will have to additionally face. It is also possible that the judge may impose a four-year minimum prison sentence.
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
If your DUI case involves you causing a serious bodily injury to another person, you could be convicted of a third-degree felony. These offenses are punishable by fines worth up to $5,000, restitution, vehicle impoundment, license revocation, and more.
DUI on a Boat
It is not only road vehicles where people can be charged for driving under the influence. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs. The blood alcohol limit is the same as what it is for driving. The penalties that you can encounter for driving a boat intoxicated are just as severe as those for people driving road vehicles.
If you are facing a conviction for DUI on a boat, you should contact The Law Place today. Our attorneys have experience handling cases involving boats. We have deep knowledge and understanding of Florida DUI law that can be hugely beneficial to your case.
What Does It Mean to Be in Control of a Vehicle in Tampa?
In Tampa, FL, you do not need to be moving the vehicle to receive a DUI charge. To experience a DUI arrest, you only need to be ‘in actual physical control of a vehicle.’ This means that you had the ability to drive the vehicle. For example, if the keys are on your person and you are sitting behind the wheel.
If you are convicted of a DUI in a stationary vehicle, you will encounter serious penalties. You will not be charged with a lesser DUI offense. This is why our Tampa DUI defense attorneys recommend that you avoid going anywhere near the driver’s seat of a vehicle if you have consumed alcohol or drugs and are over the legal limit. This is especially the case if you have a prior conviction. Don’t let a reckless mistake cost you your driving privileges.
At The Law Place, we understand that everyone makes mistakes. DUI offenses carry severe penalties, and that is why an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer at our firm will do all they can to get your DUI case dropped or reduced. It is not fair that you should encounter harsh penalties for an innocent mistake. We have dealt will DUI cases like yours before. No matter if this is your first DUI offense or you have prior convictions, a Tampa DUI attorney at our firm will do all they can to help you.
How Long Does a DUI Conviction Stay on a Driving Record?
A DUI conviction stays on your record for 75 years and can prevent you from applying for certain jobs or even traveling in some counties. This is further made problematic by the fact that a DUI offense can’t be expunged from a record. This is why it is important to speak to a DUI defense lawyer to try and get your case reduced. Lesser criminal charges such as reckless driving can be expunged.
An experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney at The Law Place can guide you through the legal process and try to reduce your DUI charge. This will be easier to do if it is your first DUI offense. Although we never condone driving under the influence, we understand everyone makes mistakes. We do not believe that it is fair that one mistake can change a life forever.
What to Do at the Scene of a DUI Accident in Tampa, FL
There are some things you should always do after an accident in Tampa. However, if you could be impaired by alcohol or drugs, even prescription ones, then you need to take extra care. DUI charges are serious offenses in Tampa; therefore, your next steps are crucial. That is why our phone lines are always open. Please speak to a DUI lawyer in Florida as soon as possible so that they can advise you.
- Seek medical attention – After an accident, your priority should be to check for injuries, not only for yourself but for anyone else involved in the accident. If possible, move somewhere safe, out of the way of any oncoming traffic.
- Call for emergency assistance – If anyone has injuries that require medical assistance, then phone an ambulance. Florida law also requires you to call the police to the scene of an accident if there are serious injuries or substantial property damage.
- Report on the accident – State law in Tampa, FL requires you to report a road accident to a law enforcement officer within 10 days. If you are concerned about a DUI, then the likelihood is that the police were called to the scene, but if not, you will need to report it to The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Avoid making any written or oral statements to police officers – If a DUI is suspected, then you should contact Florida DUI defense lawyers before you make a statement to the police. You may need to speak to them at the scene, but avoid too many details and call a DUI defense attorney at The Law Place before the police arrive. That way, they can prepare you. Even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit, you should not apologize or admit fault.
- Cooperate with testing – You can choose not to take breath/chemical or field sobriety exercises. There is no legal punishment for refusing a field sobriety test (stand on one leg, walk and turn, horizontal gaze) in Tampa, FL. But there are legal consequences for refusing a chemical or breath test. A police officer could give you a ticket for noncompliance, and you would have to pay administrative and criminal penalties.
- Gather information – Speak to other people involved in the accident and get their vehicle information, as well as their names and contact information. You may also want to get contact information from any witnesses. Your DUI attorney can use this information to try and help your case.
- Take pictures – If possible, take photos of the scene, including vehicles involved in the incident and anything that could be relevant, such as skid marks or parked cars. You may believe that you are at fault because you were impaired, but there may be another cause of the accident. This could be integral to your criminal defense.
- Don’t leave the scene – If you are under the influence, it could be tempting to leave the scene. However, this will result in a hit-and-run claim, which is a felony in Tampa, FL. Therefore, you could be making things worse for yourself.
Refusing to Take a Breath, Blood, or Urine Test in Tampa, FL
When you are in control of a motor vehicle in Tampa, FL, you automatically give your consent for tests to detect drugs or alcohol if you are lawfully arrested for a potential DUI. This is referred to as Florida’s implied consent law and is outlined under Florida Statute 316.1932.
You can choose to refuse to take these tests unless you were involved in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, although you could be penalized for it. After your first refusal, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles could suspend your driving license for up to one year. If you refuse a second time, it becomes a misdemeanor. Depending on the severity of the accident, refusing any test could be used against you in court proceedings.
At The Law Place, we recommend that you complete a breath test to monitor your breath alcohol level. Often, these tests malfunction or are administered improperly by a law enforcement officer. With the help of a Tampa DUI lawyer, you may be able to get your DUI citation reduced or dropped by arguing that the sobriety test results are unreliable.
How Much Alcohol Is Required to Raise a Person’s Blood Alcohol Level?
When a person consumes alcohol or drugs, the substances get absorbed into their bloodstream. It is then the role of the liver to break down these particles in the bloodstream.
Depending on the type of alcohol being consumed, one drink is measured in different ways. For example, one drink of beer typically equates to 12 ounces. Whereas one drink of wine is classed as 5 ounces and one drink of whiskey as 1.5 ounces.
The average human body is only able to process one drink per hour. When a person consumes alcohol and drugs at a faster rate than what their body can handle, their blood alcohol level may rise as a result. The increase of alcohol and drugs in a person’s bloodstream can cause them to become intoxicated.
What to Do in the Days After a DUI Accident in Tampa, FL
After a Tampa DUI accident, you must take certain steps if you want to navigate the legal process successfully. This can have a massive impact on the result of your case. Your Tampa DUI Lawyer will be better able to fight your case if you speak to them early and do what is expected of you.
Contact a DUI Lawyer Florida
Contact a criminal defense attorney at The Law Place as soon as possible. A DUI charge can be severe, and you must have proper legal representation. Defendants who are represented by a reputable DUI attorney are far more likely to be successful than those who refuse legal assistance.
Request a DUI hearing
If you are arrested for DUI charges in Tampa, FL, you have 10 days to request a formal review hearing (also called an administrative hearing) with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you do not do this, then you cannot challenge the suspension of your driving license. Your Tampa DUI defense attorney can assist you in filling out the paperwork correctly.
Your DUI defense attorney will also help you to apply for a temporary driving permit in Tampa, Florida. This is also known as a hardship license. If successful, this will allow you to travel to work, school, or for religious and medical purposes.
The formal review hearing is an integral part of your case because significant judgments will be made. The judge will make assumptions such as whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you, whether you were aware that your driving could be impaired, and if you chose not to take a sobriety test, they would decide if you were adequately informed of the consequences.
At your DUI hearing in Tampa, Florida, your criminal defense attorney will cross-examine witnesses such as the other driver involved in the accident and the arresting officer. Your Tampa DUI defense attorney will also subpoena any documents that could be beneficial in a subsequent criminal trial.
DUI Involving Illegal Drugs in Tampa, FL
It is unlawful to be in control of a motor vehicle if your normal facilities are impaired in any way. This does not only include drunk driving, but it also covers illegal substances such as cocaine, prescription medications such as oxycodone, and certain over-the-counter medications, such as strong antihistamines. If a drug comes with a warning not to operate heavy machinery, and you are in an accident after taking it, you could come under a DUI charge.
Charges involving illegal drugs in Tampa or anywhere in Florida are some of the most harshly judged crimes. A conviction could result in a lengthy prison sentence, the termination of your driver’s license, and even prevent you from succeeding in your chosen career path. If you were under the influence of illegal drugs or had illegal drugs in the car when you were arrested, then you must have representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Having representation from a DUI defense lawyer can make a big difference. Call The Law Place today for a free consultation, and we will tell you how we can help.
DUI Involving Legal Drugs in Tampa, FL
Most people understand it is dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs. However, many people fail to realize that legal drugs can be just as dangerous, and the consequences of a DUI conviction for legal drugs, even when taken properly, can be just as damaging.
Many legal drugs, such as those used for pain relief and allergies, cause blurred vision, drowsiness, and slow reaction time. Many of these drugs come with a warning not to ‘operate heavy machinery’; this includes driving. If you were in an accident that led to someone being injured and you were under the influence of a legal drug, a personal injury lawyer could argue that you failed to take proper precautions, despite warnings.
Unlike drunk driving, there are no clear guidelines for what counts as DUI cases when it comes to legal drugs. As a result, even if you are taking drugs as prescribed, a personal injury lawyer could argue that you acted recklessly. However, a good DUI defense attorney can argue that you acted as a reasonable person would have. Your DUI attorney might be able to prove that the drugs in question did not cause the accident.
If you are facing the potential of a DUI conviction, even if you were taking a drug as prescribed, the consequences can be life-changing. No one should face a driving under the influence charge when taking drugs prescribed by their doctor if they were not warned that they should not operate their vehicle. Having an experienced Tampa DUI defense lawyer on your side could be the difference between a criminal conviction and having your case dismissed. At The Law Place, we understand how overwhelming this can be, and that is why our law firm offers a free consultation.
What Can a DUI Lawyer Do For Me?
If you are facing a DUI conviction, then contact the DUI lawyers at The Law Place as soon as possible. We can advise you from the beginning. If you contact us in the first 10 days, we can help you to apply for a driving permit so that you can continue to drive while you await the outcome of your case. Following that, we will gather evidence and speak to witnesses to do everything we can to support your case, in the hope of lowering your sentence or having it dismissed, and your driver’s license reinstated.
When you first contact us, we will arrange a free in-depth consultation with a Florida DUI lawyer. At this point, we will answer any questions that you have and explain our fee structure. You could choose not to continue representation, and that’s ok. However, if you continue, our lawyers will get hard to work on your case straight away.
Can I Beat My Tampa DUI Case if I Have Previous Criminal Charges?
With the representation of a reputable Tampa DUI lawyer, it is possible to beat your DUI charges even if you have previous convictions. Our legal team at The Law Place has helped countless clients escape the very worse penalties for their DUI cases. If you have previous charges, it does make it more difficult to get your most recent Florida DUI case reduced or dismissed. Although it is difficult to do, it is not impossible. It is always worth fighting DUI charges. The penalties are so severe that they can alter the lives of the accused and their families forever.
If you have previous convictions, you must speak to a Tampa DUI attorney. If you hope to be successful, you will need the knowledge of an experienced attorney. To find out more about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to call our firm today.
Will I Have to Complete Community Service in Tampa Following My DUI Arrest?
If you are charged for DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County, there is a great chance that you will have to complete community service. This, of course, depends on the severity of your charge, but it is typically a feature of most DUI convictions.
The first time you are convicted for driving a vehicle over the legal limit, you will likely have to serve 50 hours of community service. In some cases, however, it is possible to pay $10 for every hour of service you are charged and do not want to complete.
For a second DUI conviction, there is no limit on the number of hours of community service a judge can award. This is why it is important to have the legal representation of a reputable and experienced attorney. An attorney at The Law Place will build a strong case, so even if you have to serve community service, it will be for the least amount of hours possible. We do all we can to ensure that our clients receive the best possible outcomes.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
Ignition interlock devices are small devices that are installed in vehicles as preventative measures. They ensure that a person can’t operate the vehicle if they are intoxicated. They work by requiring a person to complete a breath test before they start driving.
If the test reveals that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit, the vehicle will not start. The guidelines surrounding these devices are outlined clearly by The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
The amount of time that offenders are required to use these devices will depend on their previous convictions. For example:
- If this was your first DUI offense and your BAC was recorded as under 0.15%, it is highly unlikely that you will need one of these devices installed in your vehicle.
- If this was your first DUI and your BAC was above 0.15%, you will likely be required to have one of these devices installed on your vehicle for six months.
- For a second charge with a recorded BAC of below 0.15%, you will likely need to install one of these devices for one year.
- For a second charge with a recorded BAC of over 0.15%, you will likely be required to use one of these devices for two years.
Ignition interlock devices can be a huge hindrance in your day-to-day life. The less time you have one of these devices installed, the better. This is why you must speak to a lawyer today. They may be able to reduce the amount of time you will need to use these devices.
Speak to a Tampa DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing a DUI charge in Tampa, then you must have a reputable law firm by your side. At The Law Place, our Tampa DUI lawyers can challenge the evidence brought against you and could help to reduce your charges or, in some cases, even have them dismissed. They have dealt with DUI cases in Florida before and have an in-depth knowledge of the law.
At The Law Place, we handle cases across the state of Florida. No matter if you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or elsewhere in Texas, we are here for you.
DUI charges are serious, and you need to act quickly. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, so you can seek the help you need when you need it. Contact us today for a free consultation today.
To organize your free consultation with a reputable drug lawyer, call The Law Place now at (941)-444-4444.