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F.S. 316.193 - DUI, Driving Under the Influence

F.S. 316.193 is Florida’s DUI statute. 

The law prohibits anyone from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher or if their normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or some other substance - regardless of whether it’s legal. 

Nearly 30,000 people are arrested for DUI in Florida every year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

DUI case severity depends substantially on the individual facts of each situation - something our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers help our clients understand and smartly navigate. 

Penalties Under F.S. 316.193

A sizable portion of the text in F.S. 316.193 is detailing the penalties for drunk driving in Florida. 

Factors that play into how serious a Florida DUI charge is: 

  • Impact. Whether there was a crash in which anyone was injured or killed - especially if you left the scene. 
  • Injuries. How many prior DUI convictions are on your record in the last 5-10 years.
  • Alcohol level. Your exact blood alcohol - particularly whether it was over 0.08% or 0.15%. A BAC over 0.15% is an aggravating factor that will lead to more serious consequences. 
  • Age. Those under 21 can receive an administrative license suspension for a BAC of 0.02% - 0.07%, even if they aren’t criminally charged.
  • Occupants. Having someone under 18 in the car with you at the time kicks up the severity of the offense. 
  • Occupation. Those operating commercial motor vehicles with a CDL license can be criminally charged for a BAC of just 0.4%, as opposed to the 0.08% threshold for non-commercial drivers.

All that said, here are the Florida DUI penalties as laid out by statute (assuming no aggravating factors): 

  • 1st offense: Misdemeanor with a fine between $500 and $1,000, up to 6 months in jail, one year of probation, and the possibility of ignition interlock installation/use for a set time. 
  • 2nd offense: Misdemeanor with a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, up to 9 months in jail, mandatory ignition interlock, 
  • 3rd offense: If it’s within 10 years of your last offense, it’s a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, mandatory ignition interlock for at least 2 years, fine between $4,000 and $5,000. If it’s been longer than 10 years since your last offense, it’s a misdemeanor for which you’re fined between $2,000 and $5,000, and face up to 1 year in jail. 
  • 4th offense: Automatic 3rd-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison with a fine between $4,000 and $5,000, and mandatory ignition interlock. 

All offenders are expected to complete a period of probation and complete a substance abuse course - which will include a psychosocial evaluation, which could result in referral for treatment. The offender is expected to pay for all this. It could also include community service, vehicle impoundment, and a high likelihood of license suspension.  

Even if you think it’s a relatively minor matter, remember that a DUI conviction stays on your permanent record, can impact your future job prospects, insurance, child custody agreements, and will make any subsequent offense a much bigger problem. 

The best way to minimize the impact of a DUI arrest is to immediately call our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers. We have extensive experience successfully representing defendants accused of DUI. No defense lawyer can promise a given outcome, but our strategies in other criminal cases have helped to:

  • Convince prosecutors to avoid filing criminal charges in the first place. 
  • Have charges dropped or reduced to far less serious offenses. 
  • Minimize and/or manage case publicity. 
  • Have key evidence dismissed. 
  • Obtain acquittals or not guilty verdicts. 
Determining Driver Intoxication Less Straightforward Than It Seems

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is unlawful in Florida – a fact that seems straightforward enough on the surface. In reality, determining who is “under the influence” is more subjective than most realize. 

There are basically two ways police and prosecutors can prove a person is “under the influence” as described in F.S. 316.193:

  • They have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. 
  • Their consumption of alcohol or other chemical substances has impaired their normal faculties. 

Although a high blood-alcohol % level appears unequivocal proof of guilt at first glance, the science has known to be faulty – particularly if obtained via breathalyzer versus a blood test. Factors known to skew BAC results include:

  • Certain health conditions, devices, or medications. Asthma inhalers, oral gels, respiratory illness/cold medicines, diabetes/ketones, GERD, kidney and liver diseases - all have been associated with false BAC results.
  • Certain foods. Energy drinks, ripe fruits, gum, low-carb diet might impact the BAC result.
  • Rising BAC. Your BAC will continue to rise for a time after you consume your last drink. So you might not have cleared 0.08% when you were first detained by police, but you were by the time your BAC was taken. 

As for “impaired normal faculties,” there’s no clear-cut way to define or determine this. 

A lot of officers will use standardized sobriety tests, such as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (the eye test), the Walk-and-Turn (walk in a line test) and One Leg Stand. But here again, the “science” is flawed - and that may be putting it kindly. Some go so far as to call it pseudo science. 

These tests are not validated on driving ability, and there’s a lot of room for discretion by the individual officer. Courts have generally held that while they may be admissible as evidence, they can be attacked for reliability - and that’s exactly what our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers do for many clients charged under F.S. 316.193.

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.

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