Under Florida law, DUI elements are the act of driving (or being in actual physical control of a vehicle) while a person is impaired beyond his or her normal faculties, or while he or she has an unlawful blood alcohol level.
To prove the crime of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida, the prosecution must establish that:
- The defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle, and
- While driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle, the defendant either (a) was under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances (such as prescription medications), or controlled substances to the extent that his/her normal faculties were impaired, or (b) had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher.
Thus, under Florida Statutes Section 316.193, driving under the influence may be proven in either two ways: 1) By Proving the defendant’s normal faculties were impaired; OR 2) By Proving the defendant had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher. “Normal faculties” as defined in the jury instructions for DUI include, but are not limited to, the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives. Further, these "normal faculties" must be impaired in some material respect.
DEFENSES TO DUI
DUI law can be very complicated and confusing for an average lay person, and there are numerous defenses which can be raised in order to contest, reduce, or minimize the harsh consequences of this charge. A few of the more common defense strategies include:
- Raising a defense that the defendant was in possession his or her “normal faculties;”
- Challenging the procedures and therefore the results of the breath tests, urine tests, or blood test;
- Suppressing evidence due to invalid traffic stops or requests for field sobriety exercises;
- Suppressing evidence due to improper or lack thereof of implied consent warnings;
- Suppressing evidence due to improper testing;
- Contesting the State’s evidence regarding the identity of the driver,
- Contesting whether the defendant was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle;
- Exposing and challenging improper administration of field sobriety exercises;
- Challenging improper requests for blood or urine tests;
- Exposing bias and inaccuracies of investigating police officers;
- Excluding certain types law enforcement testimony from trial.
FLORIDA 10-DAY RULE
It is possible to preserve your driver’s license but you must act quickly! Under Florida law, you have the option to challenge your license suspension by requesting an administrative review hearing. Alternatively, if you have not been previously convicted of a DUI, you have the option to waive your right to the review hearing and request the immediate issuance of a Business Purpose Only (BPO) license. If you are issued a BPO license you will only be permitted to drive in order to maintain your livelihood (this would include driving for work, educational, church or medical reasons).
Regardless of which option you choose, you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to take action. There are certain procedures that must be followed no matter which option you decide is best for you. Daniel D. Nawara has the experience to guide you through this process. As a experienced Sarasota DUI attorney, he will carefully review your situation and advise you on all options that may be available to you.
DUI PENALTIES, FINES, AND IMPRISONMENT
If you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, the penalties and fines can be harsh. If this is your first conviction the fine will generally range from $500 to $1,000. In the event that your blood alcohol level is measured at .15% or higher, or a minor was in your vehicle, the fine will increase to $1,000-$2,000. The fine ranges for repeat offenders are higher and depend upon the number of earlier DUI convictions. Additionally, DUI fines and other penalties may be increased substantially if you are in an accident involving property damage, injury or death of another person while you are driving under the influence.
In addition to fines, if you are convicted of a DUI you may be subject to other penalties, including imprisonment. First time offenders can be sentenced to jail for a period of six to nine months depending upon their blood alcohol levels. Incarceration periods increase for repeat offenders and if the DUI driver is involved in an accident that causes property damage or injuries to another person.
Hiring an attorney
Do not presume that the State of Florida can prove even the most basic elements of a DUI charge. Every element of the charge should be examined throughly on both the factual and legal grounds. In some cases, the identify of the Defendant being the driver can be contested. For this reason and many others, retaining a skilled attorney is critical for a DUI. An experienced DUI attorney can competently evaluate your case and prepare defense strategies to out-work and out-beat the prosecution. Even if no possible defenses exist, the penalties can usually be significantly reduced through artful negotiation with the State Attorney’s Office.
At Daniel D. Nawara, P.A., we pride ourselves on bringing aggressive and cost-effective representation for individuals accused of DUI in Sarasota and Manatee Florida. We understand the serious stakes involved in DUI litigation, and approach every case with the same quality to achieve optimal outcomes for our clients. Contact our firm today to discuss your case.