Drunk driving charges are serious no matter what state you are in, but in Florida you can receive severe sentencing even if you are on substances that create impairment other than alcohol. Unfortunately, if you were just out having a good time with friends or family members, a traffic stop will come as an unwelcome surprise that many people do not know how to respond to.
For Destin area residents or guests, the steps you take during the stop and after the officer has arrested you with a DUI are critical to your ability to fight the charges later and be able to minimize the penalties that they may throw at you. A conviction for DUI can mean serious driving restrictions that could prevent you from being able to keep a job, drive to work or school, or even run daily errands.
Serious mistakes to avoid after the arrest
When law enforcement first pulls you over, they do not have anything on you accept a suspicion of impaired driving. As the officer is looking for reasons to make the arrest, anything you say or do can and will implicate you in a DUI. Once they have made the arrest, talking about it can create even more liability. Not seeking strong legal defense will leave you at the mercy of the officer’s evidence-collecting and the law.
Once they have brought you in after the arrest:
- Do not admit to DUI charges.
- Do not talk about your case or post comments on social media.
- Do not try to represent yourself. Hire an attorney to represent you.
People make all kinds of mistakes even before an arrest that can make their situation look even worse once law enforcement books them. Some critical errors can include:
- Taking prescription medications before driving.
- Arguing with the officer or joking around with them that you are drunk.
- Having an open container of alcohol.
- Making sudden movements, especially while in the vehicle.
- Not complying with DUI checkpoints.
Florida DUI penalties
The legal limit for blood or breath alcohol level (BAL) for a driver 21 years or older in Florida is 0.08%. Florida also has a zero-tolerance limit of 0.02% for those under 21. A driver who operates a vehicle and registers a BAL at that limit or higher, whether due to alcohol or another substance that causes impairment, will face penalties that are severe even on the first conviction:
- $500 to $1,000 in fines
- Six months in jail
- License revocation of 180 days to one year
A DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the level of impairment, DUI history, or serious bodily injury or death to another person.