DUI Defense

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Lawyers in Fort Myers, FL

Driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs (DUI) is a serious crime in Florida, and a variety of criminal penalties can apply. If convicted, you could face a Driver’s License suspension or revocation, jail time, fines, and more, and only by working with an experienced attorney can you ensure the best possible outcome in your case. The Robert Foley Law Firm is a premier drunk driving and DUI defense firm, and we know how to deal with difficult DUI cases throughout Lee County, Florida.

In the state of Florida, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08% is a criminal offense. If you are driving on a commercial driver’s license, you will be charged if you drive with a BAC over 0.04%. Additionally, anyone who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher will face harsher penalties.

Florida Statute 316.193 governs Driving Under the Influence in the State of Florida. Florida law requires all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine to determine the presence and amount of alcohol or drugs in their system. This is called the law of “implied consent,” and it imposes a one-year license revocation on drivers who refuse testing. If a driver has refused testing in the past, the law of implied consent imposes an 18-month revocation for a subsequent refusal. The fact that a driver refused testing can also be used at trial to prove culpability, and prosecutors often refer to it as consciousness of guilt. A breath test refusal by a driver with a prior refusal violation can be charged as a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

Someone is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (drugs) if that person is registered as having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater; if chemical substances are found present in the person’s urine; or if an arresting officer observes proof of the person’s normal faculties being impaired. The arresting officer can prove probable cause of impairment based on his or her observations of the suspect’s driving prior to the stop, the suspect’s mannerisms during the stop, and the suspect’s performance on field sobriety exercises, if the suspect submitted to them.

When you get arrested for a DUI in Florida, you have to deal with two different State entities. One of these entities is administrative: the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, or the DMV. The other entity is the criminal justice system: the police, the prosecutor, and the Court.

On the administrative side of things, if you refuse a breath test, if you take a breath test and your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, or if you are suspected of using drugs and refuse a urine test, your license will be suspended or revoked—regardless of the fact that you have not been convicted in a criminal trial. In fact, you can be punished with an administrative license suspension even if you are never ultimately charged with driving under the influence. For your first offense, your license will be suspended for six months if you take a breath test and receive a BAC result of .08 or higher, and it will be suspended for one year if you refuse the test. These penalties are separate and additional to the potential penalties for a DUI criminal conviction, which could include license suspension, jail time, community service hours, assignment of an ignition interlock device, and drug or alcohol rehabilitation.

When you are arrested for a DUI, you have a 10-day grace period during which you can drive under a temporary driving permit issued by the officer at the scene. Typically, the DUI citation itself serves as the temporary permit. During this 10-day period, you can request a hearing from the DMV called an Administrative Review Hearing, held by a Hearing Officer, to challenge the probable cause in your case. In addition to potentially allowing you to reinstate your license, the Administrative Review Hearing gives you a chance to hear all the evidence the State has against you. This in turn gives you a better chance at your criminal trial. Challenging your suspension also allows you to extend your temporary driving permit for an extra 42 days, for business purposes only. If you fail to request your Administrative Review Hearing, your license will be suspended on the 11th day after your arrest. Alternatively, a first-time offender can waive the hearing and request a hardship driver’s license. A lawyer should be a part of this process, and it is very important to consult with an attorney before you waive your rights or request a hearing. Robert Foley can help you through the administrative review by finding the best approach for you, based on your particular set of facts.

A First DUI offence in Florida is a misdemeanor. Penalties include:

  • A fine of between $500 and $1,000. However, if the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, the fine would increase to between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • Up to 6 months in jail. However, if the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, the jail sentence could be up to 9 months.
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • 50 hours of community service
  • A driver’s license revocation lasting between 6 and 12 months
  • 12 hours of Level 1 DUI School with a substance abuse evaluation to determine if treatment is needed
  • A 10-day vehicle impound
  • If the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, he could be required to use an ignition interlock device for up to 6 months.

A Second DUI offence in Florida is also a misdemeanor. More Severe Penalties include:

  • A fine of between $1,000 and $2,000. However, if the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, the fine would increase to between $2,000 and $4,000.
  • Up to 9 months in jail. However, if the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, or if there was a crash, the jail sentence could be up to 12 months. If the second DUI conviction occurs within 5 years of the prior DUI conviction, imprisonment for no less than 10 days is mandatory.
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • 21 hours of Level 2 DUI School with a substance abuse evaluation to determine if treatment is needed
  • A driver’s license revocation lasting a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years
  • An up to 30-day vehicle impound
  • At least one year with an ignition interlock device

A Third DUI offence in Florida is a third-degree Felony. Penalties include:

  • A fine of between $2,000 and $5,000. However, if the driver had a minor in the vehicle or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, the fine must be no less than $4,000.
  • Up to 5 years of imprisonment in state prison if charged as a felony. Up to one year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor. If the third DUI is within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction, there is a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail.
  • A driver’s license revocation lasting up to 10 years
  • 21 hours of Level 2 DUI School with a substance abuse evaluation to determine if treatment is needed
  • Minimum of two years with an ignition interlock device
  • A 90-day vehicle impound

A Fourth or subsequent DUI offence in Florida is a Felony, Regardless of the number of prior convictions. Felony DUI Penalties include:

  •  A fine of between $2000 and $5000
  • Up to 5 years in state prison
  • A lifetime driver’s license revocation
  • Up to 5 years of probation
  • A 90-day vehicle impound
  • A permanent felony conviction on your criminal record

DUI With Serious Bodily Injury

A DUI with serious bodily injury can be charged as a third-degree felony.

Under the Florida Statutes, the term “serious bodily injury” is defined as “. . . an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

Penalties include:

  • A $5000 fine
  • Up to five years in state prison
  • DUI School with a substance abuse evaluation to determine if treatment is needed
  • Up to 5 years of probation supervised by the Department of Corrections
  • A 3-year driver’s license revocation

DUI Manslaughter

DUI Manslaughter is a felony DUI offense involving the involuntary taking of another life. If the State can prove that, while driving under the influence, you caused a crash that resulted in a death, then your DUI Manslaughter charge will be a second-degree felony. This charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

If the State can prove that, while driving under the influence, you caused a crash that resulted in a death and that you failed to stop and give information or help the person you injured, then you can be charged with a first degree felony. This charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and a minimum 4-year sentence will be imposed.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of facing a DUI charge, it is important to have an experienced DUI attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and evaluate your options. Contact the Robert Foley Law Firm to help you with your DUI charge in Lee County, Florida. Robert Foley will discuss the facts of your case, guide you through your options, and help you make important decisions that will provide you with the best outcome. Your first consultation is always free.

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