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DUI » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked DUI Questions

What is BAC?
BAC is an acronym for a person’s blood alcohol content. Blood alcohol content is the amount alcohol found in a person’s blood after consuming alcohol. In the state of Florida, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if BAC levels are more than 0.08%. If an individual is under the age of 21, he or she cannot have a BAC level higher than 0.01%. If a person is caught driving with a BAC level above or exceeding the legal limit, then he/she will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?
Yes, you can. However, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test and are later convicted of DUI, you could lose your license for one year and may be subjected to harsher legal punishment. However, there are some advantages to refusing the test. If you take the breathalyzer and fail, your license will be suspended and there is now more evidence to use against you in court. By declining the test it will be harder for the prosecution to prove your BAC limit was above 0.08%.

Are field sobriety tests and breathalyzers accurate?
No, they are not. In fact, many attorneys use the argument that these tests are not 100% accurate as a defense tactic to fight DUI charges. In addition, many attorneys believe these test are subjective and designed for failure. There are multiple extenuating circumstances that could cause a scared, sick, or disabled driver to appear intoxicated, even if they are sober. Furthermore, breath tests are not fool proof. A number of factors can cause the machine to give inaccurate readings, such as machine malfunctions, radio frequency interference, or unqualified or inexperienced use of the machine.

If I get arrested, will I lose my driver’s license?
Yes, you will. As soon as you are arrested for DUI your license will automatically be suspended for six months, and you will be issued a temporary permit for ten days. You have ten days from the date of your arrest to schedule a hearing with the Florida DMV. At this hearing, you and your attorney will have the opportunity to challenge your driving suspension, and try to win back your driving privileges. At the hearing, a representative will evaluate testimony, facts, and evidence to determine whether your driving privileges will remain suspended or be reinstated.

If I my driver’s license gets suspended, how will I get to work?
If your driver’s license has been suspended you may be able to obtain a hardship license, which typically gives you permission to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and other necessary errands. Before granting a hardship license the judge will consider the circumstances surrounding your case, and if you have any prior DUI charges and/or convictions. If this is your first offense, you most likely will be granted a hardship license. However, if you get caught driving outside the limitations of your hardship license, then you will face much harsher penalties, including complete revocation of your driver’s license.

What other penalties do I face if I’m convicted?
In addition to getting your driver’s license revoked or suspended, you could face a variety of other penalties for driving under the influence, including steep monetary fines, probation, community service, mandatory alcohol treatment programs, rehabilitation, restitution, time in prison, and a mark on your permanent record. Your vehicle may also be impounded and you may be required to get an ignition interlock device installed in your car. Furthermore, many people with DUI convictions are also subjected to social ostracism, limited future opportunities, damaged reputations, strained personal relationships, and loss of community. If you are convicted of DUI, an experienced attorney can negotiate with judges and prosecutors to try and lessen or reduce these penalties.

What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device very similar to a breathalyzer machine, but is installed in the dashboard of a car. Before your car will turn on, you must breathe into the device. If the amount of alcohol on your breath exceeds the legal limit, the engine will not start. Furthermore, once you start driving you will randomly be required to provide additional breath samples to make sure there is still no alcohol in your system. If you fail to provide a breath sample, or your BAC is above the legal limit, an alarm will go off until the ignition is turned off. In addition, the device keeps a log of its activity. This log is printed out at specified intervals, during which authorities may review it. If any violations are detected, you will face additional penalties.

Will I go to jail for a DUI?
Possibly. For a first-time DUI offense, you will probably NOT go to jail unless you caused an accident that resulted in the injury or death of another person. Most people who serve time in jail for DUI are repeat offenders with multiple convictions.

When a police offers pulls someone over on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving, what are some common signs of intoxication that they look for?
There are commons signs police officers look for to tell if a driver is intoxicated. These signs include slurred speech, glazed or blood shot eyes, disheveled appearance, loud behavior, failure to follow directions, failure to comprehend questions, flushed cheeks, staggering or swaying, fumbling, wide turns, weaving in and out of traffic, swerving, abrupt movements, failure to adhere to traffic signs and signals, smell of alcohol on the breath, and open containers of alcohol in the car.

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