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Florida DUI: 10 Things You Need to Know

Mar 09, 2022

When it comes to Florida DUI laws, there are some things you should know. Find out some basic details of the legal system in the state for DUI laws.

In 2018, there were 814 fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving in Florida—which is why it's no wonder that Florida takes driving under the influence (DUI) so seriously. 

If you or someone you love has been charged with a Florida DUI, it's essential to do your research and learn how a DUI defense attorney can help you with your case. Florida DUI penalties are swift and tough, so keep reading to learn ten things you must know about DUI laws in Florida.

1. You Can Get a DUI Without Actually Driving Anywhere

Did you know that you can get a DUI while simply sitting in your car with your key in the ignition—not moving? Yes, Florida law states that you must be under the influence of a controlled substance while "in control" of the vehicle to be charged with a DUI. 

Whether or not you're exercising the capacity to control a vehicle when you're accused of a DUI, you still have the ability and can be convicted. If you're found sitting behind the wheel with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI, regardless of whether you were driving.

2. Never Refuse to Take an Alcohol Test

If you're nervous about getting a DUI, you may think about not cooperating when an officer asks you to submit to alcohol testing. However, Florida's implied consent law means that this is a horrible idea.

The implied consent law states that by driving a vehicle in Florida, you are giving consent to be subjected to testing for the presence of alcohol and other controlled substances in your body. An officer may ask you to complete a breath test or give urine to test the existence of controlled substances. 

While you have the right to refuse the test, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may temporarily suspend your license as a result. Refusal to submit to alcohol testing can also make you look bad in court, which may hurt your case. 

3. You Can Be Convicted of a "Per Se" DUI in Florida

If someone is driving obviously impaired, they will be charged with driving under the influence and will have a chance to defend their case in court.

"Per se" means "by itself" in Latin. If you have a BAC of 0.08 or more "by itself," you can be deemed guilty of a DUI without regard to any other evidence. 

4. Your License Is Seized If You're Arrested for DUI

Under Florida law, an arresting officer can seize the driver's license of someone who has refused to submit to testing or is found driving under the influence. At this time, the officer will take and hold your license.

You're then issued a traffic ticket, which serves as your notice of driver's license suspension.

Defenses for a Florida DUI

Getting charged with a DUI may make you feel hopeless, but there are ways your attorney can defend your case. Specifically, they can contest the DUI itself or challenge the constitutionality of the arrest. The following information outlines a few ways that a Florida defense attorney may accomplish this.

6. Challenge the Traffic Stop

When pulling you over during a traffic stop, an arresting officer must show probable cause. If you feel you've been pulled over without probable cause of a crime, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure.

7. Challenge the Legality of the Arrest

Similarly, an officer can't arrest you for a DUI unless they have probable cause for arrest. The officer must prove that you showed obvious signs of impairment to warrant the arrest. All evidence gathered during the arrest may be dismissed if the officer can't prove that you were impaired due to a controlled substance. 

It's also possible for an attorney to challenge the legality of your arrest if there is no video evidence. If the officer didn't record the arrest, a potential argument is that the officer wasn't acting in good faith.

8. Question Implied Consent

The law states that an officer must inform a person of the implied consent law if they refuse to submit to testing during a DUI traffic stop. The officer must clearly outline the consequences of rejecting testing and read the warning properly. 

If you are charged with rejecting testing, your attorney will ask if the officer adequately advised you of implied consent. If they did not do a proper job, you might be able to strike any evidence of you rejecting the test at trial.

9. Challenge the Test Results

If you did submit to testing, another possible defense is challenging the test results. You can do this by requesting that the sample drawn from you be retested independently.

10. Challenge Other Elements of the Prosecution's Case

Finally, another defense tactic is challenging some aspects of the prosecution case. These elements include:

  • Questioning whether the arresting officer correctly administered and graded the tests
  • Asking whether the arresting officer knew you had medical problems (if this applies) and whether they considered this during the arrest
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Your primary language (if English isn't your primary language, this may weaken the prosecution's case)

Each DUI case is different, and a combination of the above elements may lead to a successful criminal defense.

You Are More Than One Bad Night

People make mistakes, and if you've been convicted of a DUI in Florida, it's possible to put the trauma behind you sooner than you think.

Bruce Denson, a Florida lawyer who has 25 years of experience working in the criminal justice system, created DUIgoodbye to help people put a DUI arrest behind them. 

We serve all of Florida and have affordable representation plans available. If you're suffering from the consequences of a Florida DUI, choose your desired DUIgoodbye plan to get started today.

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