Multiple DUI Arrests & Offenses in Florida

Getting charged with a DUI in Florida is bad enough, but if it is not your first DUI charge prepare for the worst. Even if  your prior charge was in another state, any previous DUI conviction in the last five years will count toward your Florida DUI charge.  A multiple DUI conviction will guarantee lengthy license suspension, fines  and jail time.

In Florida, the legal BAC limit of alcohol is .08%. For multiple offenses, the law has different penalties for BAC levels of .08% to .14% and those .15% and higher.  It is also illegal to be under the influence of drugs while driving. This includes certain prescription drugs. Because there is no standard acceptable level of drug consumption, these type of charges can be difficult to prove.

All Florida DUI cases begin with an arrest. An officer may pull over a driver he or she suspects is impaired or the driver may be taken aside at a sobriety checkpoint. If the officer feels that  the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol after speaking with him or her, a field sobriety test usually occurs.  Drivers in Florida have the right to refuse such tests, but doing so is usually perceived as guilt. If a driver refuses a DUI test,  the officer is permitted to immediately escort the driver to jail.

While being held in county jail, the driver is formally arrested and should be read the Miranda Rights.    At the jail, breath, blood or urine tests may be ordered. The driver can refuse the test, but faces license suspension and further assumption of guilt by doing so. Repeat DUI offenders have mandatory jail time  of 10-30 days.

In cities like Orlando, Longwood and  Kissimmee, many people are surprised to find out about Florida’s policy of an administrative suspension. A Florida DUI is handled by two different government departments. One is the Criminal Courts system. The other is Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Following a DUI arrest, a license is immediately suspended until the courts can determine innocence or guilt. This is called an administrative suspension. It is immediate and can last up to a year for repeat DUI offenders. Once an administrative suspension is ordered, the driver has 10 days to request a hearing or hardship license that they can use to continue working. At the hearing, they can possibly have the administrative suspension removed. If the hearing is not requested in those 10 days, the suspension automatically stands no matter the outcome in court.

In addition to the administrative proceedings, a criminal case will occur for DUI charges in Florida. It will begin with an arraignment, and includes pre-trial and a jury trial. When the defendant has private representation, there can be the additional court processes of discovery and motion hearing. These procedures are used to discuss the evidence in the trial, negotiate plea bargains, and suppress evidence that was unlawfully obtained. A Florida DUI case will either be resolved in pre-trial or trial.

The sentences for repeat  DUI offenses vary based on when the last offense occurred and how many offenses there have been. The least damaging is a second offense that occurred more than 5 years ago. Sentencing charges increase in severity until the 4th offense.

Repeat offenders can expect:

  • Fees from $1000- $4000
  • Third offenses within 10 years considered a felony
  • Vehicle Impoundment of up to 90 days
  • Jail time of 10 days to 5 years
  • 5 years to permanent license revocation

If you are charged with a DUI in Orlando, Longwood or Kissimmee, Florida and its not your first, you definitely need a lawyer to help mitigate the charge or even have it dismissed.  It is too difficult to navigate both the administrative hearing and the complexities of Florida criminal law.  A public defender may be available to you, but they will not be able to attend to all of the facets of a Florida DUI case.  The best representation is what all Florida DUI cases need.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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