Asleep at the Wheel and Other Florida DUI Lessons

asleep at the wheel Florida DUIWhen in Florida, don’t do as the Floridians do – at least not when it comes to their impaired drivers. Find ways to help people steer clear of any Florida DUI problems, like advocating designated drivers or rideshare services when a person knows they’ll be drinking. Rally for ignition interlock devices that prevent drunk driving before it even starts… quite literally. And please don’t do what this guy did: hand officers a stash of cash instead of his driver’s license.

Here’s how you can avoid Florida DUI problems:

  • Lesson 1: Don’t drink and drive. Even just down the road, or around the corner. Find a safe way home.
  • Lesson 2: Don’t fall asleep in your driver’s seat, or behind the wheel of any vehicle.
  • Lesson 3: Please show the officer your driver’s license, registration, and any other documentation asked for.

The first is obvious. The second lesson is one that many people fall into because it seems logical to “sleep it off” behind the wheel of a car, instead of driving home while impaired by alcohol or other substances. However, in Florida and many other states, if you are in the driver’s seat (whether the keys are in the ignition or not), you are considered to be in control of the vehicle. If you are legally impaired, then you can be charged with and convicted of a DUI.

The last lesson… well, we hope that was an anomaly, and that nobody really thinks that they can get out of a traffic violation, DUI charge, or worse, by (accidentally, or not) handing an officer anything but what is being asked for. They have a job to do, and the easier you make that on them, the easier things will go for you.

The Florida DUI Roadmap Clears Up Drunk Driving Confusion

Florida DUIFlorida, the state that people flock to in winter and spring to escape the frozen tundra of the North. There is plenty of sun, surf, and sand, and usually, plenty of imbibing of spirits going on as part of the fun. As a guest or resident of The Sunshine State, you should be aware of the Florida DUI laws and what you need to do in the case of receiving a DUI charge.

Spring Breakers need to know that there is a zero tolerance law in Florida. This means if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is found to be .02% or higher you will be charged with a Florida DUI if you are under 21. Your best bet is not to drink if you’re under 21, but if you choose to anyway, do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle under any circumstances. For those over 21, Florida DUI law requires you to be charged with a DUI if your BAC is .08%. However, you can also get a DUI with a lower BAC if you are showing signs of impairment while driving. So like the younger set, your best bet is to not drive at all after drinking.

A Florida DUI carries harsh penalties and you’ll find those penalties to be even harsher if your BAC is found to be .15% or above. This is considered an aggravating circumstance and will be taken into account in the penalties phase, most likely increasing those penalties significantly. Also, CDL drivers are charged at .04% as mandated by federal law and will most likely lose not only their license but their job if convicted. A Florida DUI conviction is no joke and can have lifelong repercussions.

If you are charged with a Florida DUI, your first step should be to get an attorney you trust to represent you throughout the process. Having a knowledgeable person beside you to guide you during the often complicated legal process will allow you to know the correct steps to take to help mitigate the penalties such as jail time and ignition interlock device requirements. A DUI is serious, and you will face devastating penalties if your case is not handled correctly.

ICYMI: Utah Wins 2017 for New Drunk Driving Limit

drunk driving lawAfter the past few years and around a dozen states passing laws requiring more types of drunk driving offenders to install ignition interlocks, we were really excited about what 2017 would bring to the world of drunk driving laws. Safe streets should be a right, not a privilege of those who do not live in so-called “alcohol culture” states. However, it seems that those states that are not soaked in brandy or battered in beer are also not as concerned with creating safer streets.

Florida failed, once again, to expand ignition interlock access for all drunk drivers. While there is a clear problem with drunk drivers in the Sunshine State, there seems to be a bigger problem in the legislature – for the last two years, bills have been introduced to require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Each year, those bills have not moved forward, without any reason.

Wisconsin tried to implement some type of new drunk driving laws and succeeded. Only, the state ignored one of the most obvious problems it has (a first time OWI isn’t a criminal offense) and instead has made it easier for convicted drunk drivers to get back on the road, even if they do so illegally. We cannot stress enough how easy it is for a person with a revoked or suspended license to still drive a vehicle, especially if they are impaired. Then you have an unlicensed, uninsured, unsafe and unsober driver on the roads.

Utah may have actually caused the biggest gasp to emit from the mouths of lawmakers, tavern leagues, and happy hour ticket holders. The state reduced the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for a DUI, essentially saying that buzzed driving is now a drunk driving criminal offense. It probably comes as no surprise that the state has a strict ignition interlock policy, as well as other directives on the sales and production of alcohol. It is also one of the safest states in the country.

We hope that 2018 will be a year for more drunk driving law changes. Our safety depends on it, no matter which state we call home.

2017 Florida DUI Lessons: Get Drunk as a Possum?

florida dui possumA Florida possum was recently apprehended doing what we have come to expect from the human residents of the Sunshine State: breaking into a liquor store and getting her drunk on. With reports of Florida DUI dangers rising, it seems that the possum took matters into her own hands by staying off the roads and instead, opting for a safe space in the warm and inviting temple of tequila… indulging in the bed and breakfast of champions.

Just like our human friends, we are not judging the possum for her love of alcohol. Aside from breaking and entering, we can even give her props for doing what every Florida DUI offender has failed to do: staying off the roads when they have been drinking. Possums may not be known for their best judgment as they attempt to cross the road, but they are pretty much 100 percent off the hook for drunk driving. They know that when they have had a drink or two, they may as well just get cozy right where they are, sleep it off, and head home once they are sober enough to do so.

Well, that’s what we would like to think, at least.

Florida DUI stories have always been a fascinating look at the world of drunk driving. Possum proclivities aside, the most recent Florida DUI stories have included the woman who got a DUI on a horse and another DUI on a lawnmower story. We accept that Florida has a reputation for drunken decisions, including those made by golf stars and country music celebrities. In a state where ignition interlock devices are always an option for drunk drivers, we suggest following the example set forth by the possum, not the human headliners.

The moral of the Florida DUI stories… do not drink and drive. Not on a lawnmower, not on a horse. And if you really must drink, play possum and sleep it off before you become a different type of roadkill risk.

A Florida Aggravated DUI is Life Changing

Florida aggravated DUIDriving under the influence is still a large problem in the United States. Part of the reason is that there is very limited access to things like public transportation outside of larger cities and suburbs, and part of it is just that people are human and make mistakes or deliberately choose to ignore the rules. Ignoring the rules is no excuse, and in many cases, that decision can lead to a DUI or aggravated DUI charge.

A Florida Aggravated DUI will often not just increase the penalties for drunk driving, but the charge could escalate to a felony.

The situations that will result in a misdemeanor Florida aggravated DUI include:

  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement of twice the legal limit or more.
  • Property damage.
  • A first DUI with a minor child present.
  • Minor injuries occurring as a result of the DUI.

A felony Florida aggravated DUI results from:

  • A third DUI in a 10-year period
  • A fourth or subsequent DUI no matter the time period
  • Serious injuries occurring as a result of a DUI.
  • DUI manslaughter

Punishments for a felony Florida aggravated DUI include fines, up to five years in prison, five years of probation, lifetime license revocation, mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, alcohol treatment program, and more.  Not to mention the effects it will have on your ability to get a job, go to college, rent a home, or even vote.

A felony conviction is for life, and an aggravated DUI means there was a lot of damage done or high risks taken. Before you do something that will change the way you live and take away freedoms you take for granted every day, be sure you can live with the consequences. Be smart, make a plan to get home safely, and save yourself the aggravation of a lifetime of regret.

A Florida DUI on a Horse… Debate?

Yes, you can be charged with a Florida DUI on a horse.

florida DUI on a horseIt is no laughing matter, of course. But it is a warning to anyone who tries to drink and then operates any type of vehicle that transports person or property. That means a car, truck, SUV, bicycle, skateboard, lawnmower or a horse can all be a vehicle in the Florida DUI debate. The recent story about a woman who was arrested for a Florida DUI is getting a lot of attention, and not just because it is another wacky Florida DUI story.

A “vehicle” in Florida is defined as:

(97) VEHICLE.—Every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except personal delivery devices and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

We don’t normally consider horses to be vehicles. Yet, they were pretty much the standard vehicle before bicycles and motorized vehicles became as common as today’s smartphones. Horses are known to be highly intelligent animals, but they are quite literally not the controlling power at the reins. If that person in the saddle (or in the driver’s seat) is unable to safely direct (drive) the horse, there are definite risks to the rider/driver, to the horse/vehicle, and to anyone or anything in the path.

Despite claims otherwise, the Florida DUI on a horse story holds legal water, outside of the horse/vehicle debate. The suspect was given a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test at the time of her arrest, with a reading that was well over the legal limit of .08 percent.

In any other case, a BAC over the legal limit, plus dangerous behavior on the road when driving a vehicle, will always equal a DUI charge.

The lesson here is more than what is or is not a vehicle in Florida or any other state. The lesson is that if you are drinking, let some other (sober) person take on the challenge of getting you to and from wherever you wish to be. The road to recovery after a DUI can be long and frustrating, and there is nothing debatable about the peace of mind that comes from a sober ride home.

Your Florida DUI and Your Driving Rights

Florida DUI drivingIn Florida a police officer is able to revoke your license immediately if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above .08% or if you refuse to be tested. You do not have to convicted of a Florida DUI to have your license suspended because they can issue you an administrative penalty immediately.

A criminal Florida DUI conviction carries severe penalties. There are fines, jail time, alcohol education requirements, and the possibility of having to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. For a first-time Florida DUI, you only have to have an IID installed is if your BAC is over .15% or there was a minor in the car, but subsequent offenses all require some time with an IID after your license is reinstated. After the revocation period is over, starting with your second offense, an IID is required for one to two years.

The steps to regaining your driving privileges after a Florida DUI conviction include:

  1. Apply for a hardship license with the Florida DMV.
  2. Complete required penalties such as community service and substance abuse courses.
  3. Within 90 days, enroll in and complete the 12-hour Florida Advanced Driver Improvement Course, get your enrollment certificate.
  4. Obtain a copy of your 30-day driving record.
  5. Make an appointment to get your ignition interlock device installed.
  6. Obtain an SR-22 certificate or other proof of financial responsibility.
  7. Take all forms to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), pay any applicable fees and fines, receive your hardship license.

A hardship license will only allow you to drive under certain circumstances and/or to certain destinations. This is not a full return of your driving privileges. Your best plan is to not get a Florida DUI in the first place so that you never lose your license, but if you do, these are the steps you must take to regain some of your privileges.

A New Florida DUI – Parking Under the Influence?

florida DUI while parking under the influenceWe have all heard those cautionary tales. Do not go sleep in your car if you are drunk – you will get a ticket! A Florida DUI law actually makes that tale a reality.

Calling this law new is a misnomer, as it has always been part of Florida DUI law. Florida DUI laws are strict, and the word driving in the phrase driving under the influence is loosely interpreted, but for good reason. In this case, driving means the driver is in actual physical control of the vehicle, even if the engine is off and the driver is asleep. Also, a vehicle can include things such as boats and bicycles. In any case, a Florida DUI may mean you spend time in jail, or at least with an ignition interlock device.

This law targets people who drive home drunk and have an accident but are not in the vehicle when law enforcement arrives. If they are staggering around outside the vehicle, they are not technically driving at the moment, but they can be given a Florida DUI. The police can make the case that the guy staggering around outside the vehicle, that owns the vehicle and happens to have the keys to it, was the one driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.

In the case of this woman, parking under the influence was the result of a true Florida DUI story: she thought the middle of the road was her driveway.

What constitutes actual physical control? Some courts have defined actual physical control as the ability to start the car at any time and drive away. So, the location of your keys can be very important. If they are in the ignition or your pocket, you may be charged with a Florida DUI. If you put them in your glove box or somewhere else not so easily accessible, you may be less likely to be charged.

If you sleep it off in the driver’s seat of your car, you may be charged with a Florida DUI. Instead of relying on a power nap before driving home, maintain control of your life and opt for a safe ride home with another person behind the wheel.

Compliance is Easy: Florida Ignition Interlock Violations

florida ignition interlock complianceWe know that some Florida drivers have a difficult time staying sober behind the wheel. Even with a DUI conviction and a Florida ignition interlock requirement, not everyone learns their lesson. We still find those who believe they are not a risk on the road, even if they have already faced a DUI charge and have an ignition interlock requirement as a result. They’re the Florida DUI offenders who violate their ignition interlock requirement, and who have some even more strict penalties as a result.

Any violation of the Florida ignition interlock program will cause a DUI offender to lose their ignition interlock privilege for one year. Their license will be immediately suspended, and the interlock removed. Once the license is reinstated and an interlock is installed again, if another violation occurs, the offender will not be able to drive any vehicle, with or without an interlock, for five years.

Common ignition interlock program violations in Florida include:

  • Circumventing or tampering with the device (disconnecting it, for example).
  • Asking someone else to blow a breath sample into the device.
  • Driving a vehicle without an interlock installed.

For those who must operate a vehicle as a part of their job, an employer can sign an affidavit to confirm that they understand the ignition interlock requirement. The employer takes responsibility for their employee (the DUI offender) during the time they are at work and driving a company vehicle. An employer with an ignition interlock requirement, however, cannot claim the same employment exemption.

Violating the Florida ignition interlock policies and requirements only make life more frustrating after a DUI. The devices are available as a way for DUI offenders to regain control of their lives after a drunk driving conviction, not end up asking friends and family for rides. Staying sober behind the wheel should not be that difficult, nor is keeping up with the interlock promise you made when you first had the device installed.

Your Second Florida DUI Conviction… Now What?

second Florida DUIAs repeat DUI offender in Florida, you already know the danger you are to others on the road. The choice to drive under the influence of alcohol is risky, and sadly, it is others on the road or in your vehicle that pay the price for your lapse in judgment. Statistics show that half of fatal, alcohol-related vehicle accidents in the Sunshine State caused by offenders with at least a second Florida DUI, or more under their intoxicated belts.

In some cases, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device with just one DUI conviction.  After a second Florida DUI (that occurs within five years of a first-time DUI), you will not have a choice but to use the ignition interlock device if you want to keep driving. Ignition interlock devices prevent you from driving if you’ve been drinking, so they are important for your own recovery as well as for the safety of others on the road. An ignition interlock device decides whether you are okay to drive, not your feeling that you are only a little tipsy or buzzed.

Other consequences of a second Florida DUI include:

  • Nine months in jail, minimum.
  • Fines starting at $1,000.
  • Vehicle impoundment (runs consecutively with any jail time).

Also, the Florida DMV will have additional consequences for any number of DUI offenses, all of which are counted by the points you accumulate on your license, not necessarily the number of offenses. Plus, those penalties are separate from the court rules during your DUI hearing.

Florida and many other states are focused on first-time DUI offenders and stopping them from driving drunk after a conviction, allowing a certain leniency as long as the offender changes their habits. When a person has multiple DUIs and cannot seem to learn the risks of intoxicated driving, the consequences and penalties increase.