In Boca Raton, Florida, attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard B. Barkin regularly represent individuals charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Below are answers to frequently asked questions related to DUI that our office commonly receives.
Q. What is the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI)?
A. In the state of Florida, a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or above is considered to be driving under the influence. If you are under 21 years old, driving with any level (.02 or more) of alcohol in your bloodstream can subject you to an administrative suspension of your license for six months for a first offense.
Q. Do I have to take a test?
A. By accepting the privilege of driving within the state, you have given your implied consent to an approved test, such as a breath test for alcohol or urine test for drugs. If you believe you are over the limit, you may think that you should refuse the test. However, failure to submit to a breath test will result in a suspension of your license for one year for a first refusal. Also, the fact that you refused to submit to testing is admissible in evidence in any criminal proceeding. About the only time it would be beneficial to refuse a test would be when the penalties for refusing are less than those for a DUI conviction, such as when your BAL is twice the legal limit or if other aggravating circumstances are present.
Q. Will my license be suspended?
A. On a first conviction for DUI, your license will be suspended anywhere from 180 days up to one year. A second conviction within five years of the first one results in a minimum five-year revocation, and a third conviction within ten years of the last conviction results in a minimum ten-year revocation. For a fourth conviction or DUI manslaughter, your license will be permanently revoked.
The license suspension occurs in an administrative proceeding, separate from any criminal proceeding on the DUI. Where driving is necessary for employment or business, it is possible to fight the suspension and have your license reinstated earlier with a hardship license.
Q. What are the punishments for a DUI first offense?
A. For a first offense, a fine may be imposed between $500 and $1,000. Amounts may be doubled if the driver’s BAL is .15 or higher or if there was a minor in the vehicle. Fifty hours of community service is also required, or an additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service not performed. The person may be placed in jail for up to six months (nine months with a BAL of .15 or more) and placed on probation up to one year. Sentencing terms may be served in a residential treatment program instead of jail, at the court’s discretion. Expect the vehicle to be impounded for ten days, and a revocation of the driver’s license for a period between 180 days and one year.
Q. What if I was taking a drug I had a valid prescription for?
A. While many states do not differentiate among types of intoxicating substances, Florida law seems to confine DUI to alcohol and controlled substances. However, while you may not be guilty of driving under the influence, if you were pulled over because your driving was impaired, you may still be cited for reckless driving or a similar offense.
The penalties for even a first conviction of DUI can have serious, long-term consequences. If you are facing a DUI charge, contact a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience in handling these types of cases. The Law Offices of Richard B. Barkin has decades of experience in this area and can help you with your DUI case.