This fall, hundreds of thousands of college students will return to campuses across Tampa Bay. As we know, far too often college students engage in high risk drinking behaviors, including binge drinking and drinking and driving. If your college student has been arrested for DUI, there are some things you must know:
Florida DUI Laws & Consequences
In Florida, a first time DUI is a misdemeanor criminal offense. Aside from the standard fines and possible jail time associated with a misdemeanor offense, it is important that you understand that a conviction for DUI stays on your record for 75 years and cannot be sealed or expunged. Therefore, it is imperative that you have aggressive representation and fight the charges against you.
Under Florida Statute 316.193, a person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence if the person is in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state and the person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired or the person has a breath-alcohol level of .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
This means that, even if you provided a breath sample below .08, you can still be charged with – and convicted of – DUI if it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that your normal faculties were impaired.
For a first time offense, the minimum penalties you are facing include:
- 12 months of supervised probation
- $500 fine plus hundreds of dollars in court costs
- 50 community service hours
- DUI school
- 10 day impound of your vehicle
- 6 month suspension of your driver's license
The penalties increase with each additional conviction for DUI and may include mandatory jail time.
What About My License?
Many students commute to and from campus. When you are arrested for DUI, an automatic suspension unrelated to the criminal portion of your case goes into effect. If you do not challenge the suspension of your license within 10 days, you will automatically face a 6 months suspension for an unlawful blood alcohol level or a 12 month suspension for a refusal.
If your attorney does effectively challenge the suspension within the first ten days, you will be eligible for a hardship permit that will allow you to drive for work, church, school and doctor's appointments for approximately 42 days. Your attorney will then go before the DHSMV (DMV) administrative review board and present a case to attack the suspension of your license. If you win, you will get your license back. If you lose, you will face a "hard time" period of no driving (30 days for an unlawful blood alcohol level, 90 days for a refusal); however when that period is up you may be eligible for a second hardship license.
How Can I Fight My DUI?
Even if you provided a breath sample over the legal limit, all hope is not lost. There are dozens of ways an experienced attorney can attack your DUI. Some of the issues an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney can explore include:
- Was a lawful traffic stop conducted on you?
- Were you in actual, physical control of a motor vehicle?
- Were the Field Sobriety Exercises administered properly?
- Were there any technical or procedural errors made with regards to your arrest?
- Were you read Florida's Implied Consent law?
- Was the breath test machine working properly?
- Did you actually refuse to submit a breath, blood, or urine sample?
At Taracks & Associates we have five DUI lawyers on staff, four of which are former prosecutors who have handled DUI's from both sides. Two of our attorneys are graduates of the University of South Florida and maintain a close relationship with the alumni association. One of our lawyers currently serves as a peer advisor for a group on campus and routinely gives speeches and lectures regarding DUI and the dangers of drinking and driving. With over 45 years of combined experience, the lawyers at our firm have the knowledge, training and experience necessary to help you challenge your DUI and avoid a conviction.
At Taracks & Associates, our number one goal in every DUI case is to get the charges against you dropped or dismissed. Alternatively, we may be able to work with the State Attorney's Office to have the charges against you reduced to a lesser charge Reckless Driving, where you would avoid any additional license suspension and may be eligible to have your record sealed. Call us today at 813-281-2897 for a free, confidential consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Taracks & Associates – The Advocate For You.