Driving Under the Influence

Driving Under the Influence If you have been charged with a DUI, you will want the best Tampa DUI attorney to handle your case. The Law Office of M. Ameen has dedicated itself to both understanding the ins and outs of DUI laws, and protecting the rights of its clients. There are many factors that go into a DUI case, and many details that the prosecution must prove; such as proving that your breath alcohol content really impaired your normal faculties, and that the officer followed all the right procedures in the initial police contact. If you are facing a driving under the influence charge, and you want the best chance to be acquitted or have your penalty lessoned, then go with the Law Office of M. Ameen, a Tampa DUI attorney that has the experience, knowledge and commitment to handle any DUI case. Call toll free 1-800-436-8332 for a free Tampa DUI attorney consultation.

How We Can Help

At the Law Office of M. Ameen, we have extensive knowledge of DUI laws. The information provided above is only a small part of what we will investigate in your case. You may have many defenses available to you that you are unaware of, and that’s where we come in. Call us 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, toll free 1-800-436-8332 to set up a free tampa dui attorney consultation.

DUI Law – What the Prosecution Must Prove

You can be convicted of Driving Under the Influence two ways,

  • That at the time of driving you had a breath alcohol content of .08% or higher or
  • That at the time of driving your normal faculties were impaired.
  • Breath Alcohol Content .08% or Higher Having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 creates a presumption of impairment, and the defense has the burden to prove that your normal faculties were not impaired.
  • Normal Faculties Impaired The prosecution can also prove that you were impaired by showing that your normal faculties were impaired, this means the ability to walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, act in an emergency situation, and generally carry out the tasks associated with our daily lives. The most commonly used for of this evidence is the video tape of the field sobriety exercises.

The DUI Investigation

 

Initial Police Contact

Driving Pattern

Before a police officer is allowed to pull you over, they must have a legally valid reason for the initial stop. Typically, the officers will say they observed you turning with a wide radius, straddling center of lane marker, appearing to be drunk, almost striking object or vehicle, weaving, driving on other than designated highway, swerving, speed, more than 10 mph below limit, stopping without cause in traffic lane, following too closely, drifting, tires on center or lane marker, braking erratically, driving into opposing or crossing traffic, signaling inconsistent with driving actions, slow response to traffic signals, stopping inappropriately (other than in lane), turning abruptly or illegally, accelerating or decelerating rapidly, and headlights off.

Physical Condition

Once an officer has pulled you over, they will approach your vehicle and make contact with you. The things they will be looking for include, flushed face, red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, fumbling with wallet trying to get license, failure to comprehend the officer’s questions, staggering when exiting vehicle, swaying/instability on feet, leaning on car for support, combative, argumentative, jovial or other “inappropriate” attitude, soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing, stumbling while walking, disorientation as to time and place, and inability to follow directions.

Field Sobriety Exercises (FSE)

HGN (The Eye Test)

Police officers typically start off the FSEs by conducting what is called the HGN Test. This is when they take a small light, move it different directions and test your eyes. Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) refers to a lateral or horizontal jerking when the eye gazes to the side. In the impaired driving context, alcohol consumption or consumption of certain other central nervous system depressants, inhalants or phencyclidine, hinders the ability of the brain to correctly control eye muscles, therefore causing the jerk or bounce associated with HGN. As the degree of impairment becomes greater, the jerking or bouncing, i.e. the nystagmus, becomes more pronounced. This is assessed in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Click Here for More Information About HGN

Walk and Turn

The DUI suspect is instructed to place their left foot on the line, and subsequently place their right foot on the line ahead of their left foot, with the heel of their right foot lined up against toe of their left foot, which must be demonstrated to the suspect undergoing the testing. In the absence of police officer demonstration, the instructions given alone will decrease the validity of the test. They must then take nine heel to toe steps, turn around, and take nine heel to toe steps back to their original starting point. The police officer must demonstrate two or three heel to toe steps for the drunk driving suspect prior to administering the test.

One Leg Stand

The DUI suspect should be allowed to stand on either leg that they prefer. The suspect is instructed to keep the raised foot about six inches above the ground. While they are in a standing position, they are to count out loud for a duration of 30 seconds, and the police officer will demonstrate the count as “one-one thousandth, “two-one thousandth, etc., all the way to thirty-one thousandth. The suspect is directed to look down at their foot while counting, and throughout the duration of the entire test, while keeping their arms at their sides at all times. They are told to refrain from hopping or swaying while standing.

Finger to Nose

Another test used by officers is the Finger to Nose test. In this exercise, the suspect is told to stand still, keep their eyes closed, and head tilted back. While in this position, they are required to point both fingers to the ground. At this point, they officer will call out a hand, left or right, and the suspect will be required to touch the tip of the finger to the tip of the nose. The officer will repeat this process several times, calling out left or right randomly.

Alphabet Test

The alphabet test is typically used in situations when the DUI suspect cannot perform the physical exercises because of a medical condition. In this exercise, the officer will ask the suspect to stand with their head tilted backwards, and eyes closed. They will then be required to recite the alphabet with out chanting or singing it.

Are Field Sobriety Exercises Video Taped?

In most cases, the FSE are videotaped. Most DUI officers have video cameras mounted on their patrol cars. This is typically to your advantage, since it is the best evidence of your impairment at the time of driving. Many times, individuals will perform exceptional on the FSE and blow over the .08 limit. In this situation, they have a good defense, since the breath test will not happen till about an hour later, giving the alcohol time to get into the blood stream.

Intoxilyzer Breath Test

Breath tests are administered only after the suspect has been placed under arrest for DUI. Usually the suspect is asked to take the test after having performed a roadside Field Sobriety Exercises and having been transported to a central testing facility. There are exceptions when a mobile breath testing facility is available for checkpoints, or when there has been a crash that caused serious injuries to the suspect and/or someone else. In an injury crash involving others, police may force a blood test. Breath tests may be administered only by operators certified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In many cases the breath test operator is not the arresting officer, and in a few cases, the breath test operator is a civilian. Either the arresting officer or the breath test operator can request the breath test. In most places, the implied consent warning is read to the suspect only if the offender refuses. After being read the warning statement, the offender is asked again. The offender and the police officer who read it must sign the form to acknowledge that the warning was read.

Should I Refuse the Breath Tests?

The only circumstance in which it is certain that it will be to a driver’s advantage to submit to a breath test is when the driver is sure that the BAC is under .08. A first-time offender that agrees to the test and fails it will, upon conviction, be suspended for 6 fewer months, but will usually need to pay fines and fees, be put on probation, required to perform community service, sent to DUI school, and required to pay for alcohol assessment and perhaps treatment. The severity of the longer refusal suspension is diminished by the possibility that it can be overturned and that a hardship permit will be granted. (Hardship permits are available only when there is no prior refusal in the record.)

Penalties

 

1st DUI
Potential Jail 0-9 Months
Probation 1 Year
Fines $250 – $1000
Drivers License Suspension 6 Months to 1 Year
Car Impounded 10 Days
Interlock on Car Upto 6 Months
Community Service 50 Hours
DUI School Level I
2nd DUI (within 5 years)
Potential Jail 10 days to 1 Year
Probation 1 Year
Fines $500 – $1000
Drivers License Suspension 5 Years
Car Impounded 30 Days
Interlock on Car 1 – 2 Years
Community Service 50 Hours
DUI School Level II
3rd DUI (within 10 years)
Potential Jail 30 days to 5 Year
Probation 1 – 5 Years
Fines $1000 – $5000
Drivers License Suspension 10 Years
Car Impounded 90 Days
Interlock on Car 2 Years
Community Service 50 Hours
DUI School Level II
4th DUI
Potential Jail Upto 5 Year
Probation 1 – 5 Years
Fines $1000 – $5000
Drivers License Suspension Permanent
Car Impounded 90 Days
Interlock on Car 2 Years
Community Service 50 Hours
DUI School Level II

 

Florida Statue Text – Driving Under the Influence

316.193 Driving under the influence; penalties.–

  • A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and:
    • The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
    • The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
    • The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
    • Except as provided in paragraph (b), subsection (3), or subsection (4), any person who is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) shall be punished:
      • 1. By a fine of:
        • Not less than $250 or more than $500 for a first conviction.
        • Not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a second conviction; and
      • 2. By imprisonment for:
        • Not more than 6 months for a first conviction.
        • Not more than 9 months for a second conviction.
    • For a second conviction, by mandatory placement for a period of at least 1 year, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person, when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted license. The installation of such device may not occur before July 1, 2003.
    • Any person who is convicted of a third violation of this section for an offense that occurs within 10 years after a prior conviction for a violation of this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. In addition, the court shall order the mandatory placement for a period of not less than 2 years, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person, when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted license. The installation of such device may not occur before July 1, 2003.
  • Any person who is convicted of a third violation of this section for an offense that occurs more than 10 years after the date of a prior conviction for a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,500 and by imprisonment for not more than 12 months. In addition, the court shall order the mandatory placement for a period of at least 2 years, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person, when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted license. The installation of such device may not occur before July 1, 2003.
  • Any person who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this section, regardless of when any prior conviction for a violation of this section occurred, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. However, the fine imposed for such fourth or subsequent violation may be not less than $1,000.
    • (3) Any person:
    • (a) Who is in violation of subsection (1);
    • (b) Who operates a vehicle; and
    • (c) Who, by reason of such operation, causes or contributes to causing:
      • 1. Damage to the property or person of another commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
      • 2. Serious bodily injury to another, as defined in s. 316.1933, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
      • 3. The death of any human being or unborn quick child commits DUI manslaughter, and commits:
      • a. A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
      • b. A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:
      • (I) At the time of the crash, the person knew, or should have known, that the crash occurred; and
      • (II) The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.
      • 3. The death of any human being or unborn quick child commits DUI manslaughter, and commits:
    • A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    • b. A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:

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  • (I) At the time of the crash, the person knew, or should have known, that the crash occurred; and
  • (II) The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.
  • For purposes of this subsection, the definition of the term “unborn quick child” shall be determined in accordance with the definition of viable fetus as set forth in s. 782.071. A person who is convicted of DUI manslaughter shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.
  • Any person who is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) and who has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.20 or higher, or any person who is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) and who at the time of the offense was accompanied in the vehicle by a person under the age of 18 years, shall be punished:
    • (a) By a fine of:
      • Not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a first conviction.
      • Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 for a second conviction.
      • Not less than $2,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
    • (b) By imprisonment for:
      • Not more than 9 months for a first conviction.
      • Not more than 12 months for a second conviction.
      • For the purposes of this subsection, only the instant offense is required to be a violation of subsection (1) by a person who has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.20 or higher.
    • (c) In addition to the penalties in paragraphs (a) and (b), the court shall order the mandatory placement, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person for up to 6 months for the first offense and for at least 2 years for a second offense, when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted license. The installation of such device may not occur before July 1, 2003.
  • The court shall place all offenders convicted of violating this section on monthly reporting probation and shall require completion of a substance abuse course conducted by a DUI program licensed by the department under s. 322.292, which must include a psychosocial evaluation of the offender. If the DUI program refers the offender to an authorized substance abuse treatment provider for substance abuse treatment, in addition to any sentence or fine imposed under this section, completion of all such education, evaluation, and treatment is a condition of reporting probation. The offender shall assume reasonable costs for such education, evaluation, and treatment. The referral to treatment resulting from a psychosocial evaluation shall not be waived without a supporting independent psychosocial evaluation conducted by an authorized substance abuse treatment provider appointed by the court, which shall have access to the DUI program’s psychosocial evaluation before the independent psychosocial evaluation is conducted. The court shall review the results and recommendations of both evaluations before determining the request for waiver. The offender shall bear the full cost of this procedure. The term “substance abuse” means the abuse of alcohol or any substance named or described in Schedules I through V of s. 893.03. If an offender referred to treatment under this subsection fails to report for or complete such treatment or fails to complete the DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation, the DUI program shall notify the court and the department of the failure. Upon receipt of the notice, the department shall cancel the offender’s driving privilege, notwithstanding the terms of the court order or any suspension or revocation of the driving privilege. The department may temporarily reinstate the driving privilege on a restricted basis upon verification from the DUI program that the offender is currently participating in treatment and the DUI education course and evaluation requirement has been completed. If the DUI program notifies the department of the second failure to complete treatment, the department shall reinstate the driving privilege only after notice of completion of treatment from the DUI program. The organization that conducts the substance abuse education and evaluation may not provide required substance abuse treatment unless a waiver has been granted to that organization by the department. A waiver may be granted only if the department determines, in accordance with its rules, that the service provider that conducts the substance abuse education and evaluation is the most appropriate service provider and is licensed under chapter 397 or is exempt from such licensure. A statistical referral report shall be submitted quarterly to the department by each organization authorized to provide services under this section.
  • With respect to any person convicted of a violation of subsection
    • (1) regardless of any penalty imposed pursuant to subsection (2), subsection (3), or subsection (4):
      • For the first conviction, the court shall place the defendant on probation for a period not to exceed 1 year and, as a condition of such probation, shall order the defendant to participate in public service or a community work project for a minimum of 50 hours; or the court may order instead, that any defendant pay an additional fine of $10 for each hour of public service or community work otherwise required, if, after consideration of the residence or location of the defendant at the time public service or community work is required, payment of the fine is in the best interests of the state. However, the total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year. The court must also, as a condition of probation, order the impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle that was operated by or in the actual control of the defendant or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name at the time of impoundment or immobilization, for a period of 10 days or for the unexpired term of any lease or rental agreement that expires within 10 days. The impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with the incarceration of the defendant. The impoundment or immobilization order may be dismissed in accordance with paragraph (e), paragraph (f), paragraph (g), or paragraph (h).
      • For the second conviction for an offense that occurs within a period of 5 years after the date of a prior conviction for violation of this section, the court shall order imprisonment for not less than 10 days. The court must also, as a condition of probation, order the impoundment or immobilization of all vehicles owned by the defendant at the time of impoundment or immobilization, for a period of 30 days or for the unexpired term of any lease or rental agreement that expires within 30 days. The impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with the incarceration of the defendant and must occur concurrently with the driver’s license revocation imposed under s. 322.28 (2)(a)2. The impoundment or immobilization order may be dismissed in accordance with paragraph (e), paragraph (f), paragraph (g), or paragraph (h). At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
      • For the third or subsequent conviction for an offense that occurs within a period of 10 years after the date of a prior conviction for violation of this section, the court shall order imprisonment for not less than 30 days. The court must also, as a condition of probation, order the impoundment or immobilization of all vehicles owned by the defendant at the time of impoundment or immobilization, for a period of 90 days or for the unexpired term of any lease or rental agreement that expires within 90 days. The impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with the incarceration of the defendant and must occur concurrently with the driver’s license revocation imposed under s. 322.28(2)(a)3. The impoundment or immobilization order may be dismissed in accordance with paragraph (e), paragraph (f), paragraph (g), or paragraph (h). At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
      • The court must at the time of sentencing the defendant issue an order for the impoundment or immobilization of a vehicle. Within 7 business days after the date that the court issues the order of impoundment or immobilization, the clerk of the court must send notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the registered owner of each vehicle, if the registered owner is a person other than the defendant, and to each person of record claiming a lien against the vehicle.
      • A person who owns but was not operating the vehicle when the offense occurred may submit to the court a police report indicating that the vehicle was stolen at the time of the offense or documentation of having purchased the vehicle after the offense was committed from an entity other than the defendant or the defendant’s agent. If the court finds that the vehicle was stolen or that the sale was not made to circumvent the order and allow the defendant continued access to the vehicle, the order must be dismissed and the owner of the vehicle will incur no costs. If the court denies the request to dismiss the order of impoundment or immobilization, the petitioner may request an evidentiary hearing.
      • A person who owns but was not operating the vehicle when the offense occurred, and whose vehicle was stolen or who purchased the vehicle after the offense was committed directly from the defendant or the defendant’s agent, may request an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the impoundment or immobilization should occur. If the court finds that either the vehicle was stolen or the purchase was made without knowledge of the offense, that the purchaser had no relationship to the defendant other than through the transaction, and that such purchase would not circumvent the order and allow the defendant continued access to the vehicle, the order must be dismissed and the owner of the vehicle will incur no costs.
      • The court shall also dismiss the order of impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle if the court finds that the family of the owner of the vehicle has no other private or public means of transportation.
      • The court may also dismiss the order of impoundment or immobilization of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant but that are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.
      • All costs and fees for the impoundment or immobilization, including the cost of notification, must be paid by the owner of the vehicle or, if the vehicle is leased or rented, by the person leasing or renting the vehicle, unless the impoundment or immobilization order is dismissed. All provisions of s. 713.78 shall apply.
      • The person who owns a vehicle that is impounded or immobilized under this paragraph, or a person who has a lien of record against such a vehicle and who has not requested a review of the impoundment pursuant to paragraph (e), paragraph (f), or paragraph (g), may, within 10 days after the date that person has knowledge of the location of the vehicle, file a complaint in the county in which the owner resides to determine whether the vehicle was wrongfully taken or withheld from the owner or lienholder. Upon the filing of a complaint, the owner or lienholder may have the vehicle released by posting with the court a bond or other adequate security equal to the amount of the costs and fees for impoundment or immobilization, including towing or storage, to ensure the payment of such costs and fees if the owner or lienholder does not prevail. When the bond is posted and the fee is paid as set forth in s. 28.24, the clerk of the court shall issue a certificate releasing the vehicle. At the time of release, after reasonable inspection, the owner or lienholder must give a receipt to the towing or storage company indicating any loss or damage to the vehicle or to the contents of the vehicle.
      • A defendant, in the court’s discretion, may be required to serve all or any portion of a term of imprisonment to which the defendant has been sentenced pursuant to this section in a residential alcoholism treatment program or a residential drug abuse treatment program. Any time spent in such a program must be credited by the court toward the term of imprisonment.
      • For the purposes of this section, any conviction for a violation of s. 327.35; a previous conviction for the violation of former s. 316.1931, former s. 860.01, or former s. 316.028; or a previous conviction outside this state for driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level, driving with an unlawful breath-alcohol level, or any other similar alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offense, is also considered a previous conviction for violation of this section. However, in satisfaction of the fine imposed pursuant to this section, the court may, upon a finding that the defendant is financially unable to pay either all or part of the fine, order that the defendant participate for a specified additional period of time in public service or a community work project in lieu of payment of that portion of the fine which the court determines the defendant is unable to pay. In determining such additional sentence, the court shall consider the amount of the unpaid portion of the fine and the reasonable value of the services to be ordered; however, the court may not compute the reasonable value of services at a rate less than the federal minimum wage at the time of sentencing.
  • A conviction under this section does not bar any civil suit for damages against the person so convicted.
  • At the arraignment, or in conjunction with any notice of arraignment provided by the clerk of the court, the clerk shall provide any person charged with a violation of this section with notice that upon conviction the court shall suspend or revoke the offender’s driver’s license and that the offender should make arrangements for transportation at any proceeding in which the court may take such action. Failure to provide such notice does not affect the court’s suspension or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license.
  • A person who is arrested for a violation of this section may not be released from custody:
    • Until the person is no longer under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893 and affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired;
    • Until the person’s blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is less than 0.05; or
    • Until 8 hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.
  • The rulings of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles under s. 322.2615 shall not be considered in any trial for a violation of this section. Testimony or evidence from the administrative proceedings or any written statement submitted by a person in his or her request for administrative review is inadmissible into evidence or for any other purpose in any criminal proceeding, unless timely disclosed in criminal discovery pursuant to Rule 3.220, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  • The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is directed to adopt rules providing for the implementation of the use of ignition interlock devices.
  • If the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that the defendant has been previously convicted of the offense of driving under the influence, that evidence is sufficient by itself to establish that prior conviction for driving under the influence. However, such evidence may be contradicted or rebutted by other evidence. This presumption may be considered along with any other evidence presented in deciding whether the defendant has been previously convicted of the offense of driving under the influence.

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