DUI

Few people start up their cars fully anticipating a DUI arrest.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers know good people sometimes get arrested. You need a good criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate the system – one that can often seem stacked against you.

A DUI is a serious criminal offense that may carry either misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on:

  • The number of prior convictions;
  • Whether you had a minor in the vehicle;
  • How high your blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level was;
  • Whether you crashed;
  • Whether you caused serious bodily injury or death.

A Florida DUI conviction will not just impact your personal freedom. It will impact your pocketbook, your insurance premiums, your driving privileges and your reputation – for the long-term.

We are committed to staunchly defending your rights, your freedom and your future.

Just some of the DUI legal issues we are prepared to help you handle include:

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, our attorneys will vehemently fight for your best interests.

Drunk Driving vs. Driving Under the Influence

Florida Statute makes it a crime both to drive drunk, as well as to operate a motor vehicle “under the influence.” Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are in fact a bit different.

F.S. 316.193 explains both.

The section on drunk driving arrests involves the individual having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. These are tests given administered by machine or analyzed in a laboratory and stipulate a very clear-cut definition of impairment.

However, the section on impaired driving is a bit more vague and subjective. What it says is a person may be guilty of DUI if he or she is “under the influence” of either alcohol or chemical substances “to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.” This means a law enforcement officer could make a subjective judgment on whether an individual is “impaired” based on circumstantial evidence – even if the defendant’s BAC did not meet or exceed 0.08.

“Normal faculties” could include (but are not necessarily limited to) one’s ability to:

  • See
  • Hear
  • Walk
  • Talk
  • Accurately judge distance
  • Drive a vehicle;
  • Make sound judgments;
  • Act in an emergency.

Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may have numerous viable defenses. These could range from challenging the BAC test methodology and results to offering plausible alternatives for the officer’s conclusions about certain observations. We may also seek suppression of evidence if there is any indication it was gathered improperly or illegally.

We might also dispute that a defendant was “in actual physical control of a vehicle,” another requirement for conviction of DUI in Florida.

DUI Consequences

The consequences of a DUI conviction are going to depend on a myriad of factors. At minimum, assuming it’s your first DUI, you are likely to lose your driver’s license, serve a year of probation, pay a hefty fine, shell out extra for insurance premiums and have a permanent criminal record – if you do not fight your DUI.

A first-time DUI conviction carries a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six month. For a second-time conviction, you’ll be facing a maximum $2,000 fine and nine months in jail.

A third conviction in 10 years will result in a third-degree felony charge, which carries a fine of $5,000 and a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Any one of these could be enhanced if you are involved in an accident, particularly if you seriously hurt or kill someone. DUI with property damage is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. DUI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony, while DUI manslaughter (the death of another person – including an unborn child) is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. That charge carries a minimum mandatory minimum four-year prison term – which you will also serve if you are convicted of fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.

You may also face steeper penalties if you are driving with a minor (anyone under 18) or if your BAC is measured at 0.15 or higher. For example, even if you have never been arrested for DUI before, but you had someone under 18 in the car, your maximum penalty increases from six months to nine months, and maximum fine from a maximum of $1,000 to a minimum of $1,000 with a maximum of $2,000. Plus, you could find yourself facing child neglect charges on top of that.

The judge will also have discretion (if first-time DUI) or obligation to impose an ignition interlock requirement, per F.S. 316.1937 . You would be forced to pay to have a breathalyzer device installed and maintained on your vehicle for a time if you wish to regain driving privileges. Any evidence of trying to cheat the test could result in additional penalties.

Every Florida DUI case is going to have its own unique set of circumstances, and it’s important to have an attorney who can help you consider them all before deciding how best to proceed.

While most people don’t plan for a DUI, they can plan to help reduce the impact on their life by immediately consulting with an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.