What is Drunk Driving (DUI)
DUI (Drunk Driving) F.S. §316.193 is defined as being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or model glue to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, or having a BAC level above a .08. This is a very broad definition, in fact most people are shocked when they realize how broad the DUI statute is. Here are some facts people don’t realize about DUIs.
What is a BAC
When talking about a DUI the BAC usually refers t the Breath Alcohol Content or the Blood Alcohol Content. It is used to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s body for purposes of prosecuting DUIs.
You Don’t Have to Be Drunk to Be DUI
Most people think of DUI as driving drunk (that’s even the name of this section). However Florida’s DUI statutes only requires that your normal faculties be impaired, which is a much lower standard then being drunk.
DUI Doesn’t Require Driving
The DUI statute only requires that the defendant be in physical control of the vehicle, in does not require him to be driving the vehicle. Being in physical control of a vehicle only means you have the ability to start it. If they keys to the car are in your reach, and you are inside the car, then you have physical control for purposes of being charged with a DUI. The keys do not need to be in your hand.
You Don’t Have to Be in Control of a Motor Vehicle to Get a DUI
This one is usually the most surprising fact about a DUI. You don’t have to be driving a motor vehicle to get a DUI. People can be charged with a DUI for riding their bicycles while impaired.
You Don’t Have to Be Impaired by Alcohol to Get a DUI
The DUI statute requires that a person be under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or model glue. A controlled substance is basically any substance listed in F.S. 893, which includes prescription drugs. The fact that you have a prescription for your medication is not a defense to the charge of DUI (with very limited exceptions).
DUI comes with a number of penalties. Some of the DUI penalties are discretionary, while others are mandatory. Some of the mandatory DUI penalties for a 1st time DUI include:
- DUI school with substance abuse and evaluation
- Random Screens
- 6 month drivers license revocation
- Mandatory Adjudication of Guilt
- $500 fine
- 50 hours of community service
- There will be additional penalties for a BAC level greater than .15
- There will be additional penalties in a subsequent DUI
The court also has discretion to extend many of the minimum sanctions on a DUI like the fine or the drivers license revocation. The court also has discretion to impose jail time on a DUI as well.
The Typical Alcohol DUI Case
Most DUIs start off when an officer notices that a car is breaking a traffic infraction or has a driving pattern. If the car has a driving pattern an officer will often look for the car to commit a traffic infraction before pulling the car over to make sure the stop is valid. Upon pulling the car over an officer will frequently claim he observed a smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech coming from the defendant. The officer will then ask the defendant to perform some field sobriety test, and based on the field sobriety test the officer will place the defendant under arrest and transport him to the jail for further testing. At the jail the staff there is likely to have the defendant redo the field sobriety exercises and blow into the breathalyzer.
While many DUIs carry similar facts, the defenses to them are very fact specific. While the defenses to DUIs are very numerous, most the defenses will not apply most the time. The key is to find one or more defense to the DUI that might apply to this specific case. Some of these defenses include the defendant was illegally detained. This happens when the defendant was stopped or detained without cause. Also attorneys check to make sure the investigation was done procedurally incorrect. A defendant who refused to take a breathalyzer must generally be read implied consent before he refused or the refusal may not be admissible against him. If the defendant refused he may be able to get the refusal excluded in he agrees to the breathalyzer shortly after the refusal.
If a defendant blows into the breathalyzer, and the results are unfavorable the attorney may try to exclude it the machine on several other grounds. While challenging the results of the breathalyzer is extremely difficult, sometimes the results can be excluded based on the fact the procedure used with the breathalyzer violates the defendant’s constitutional rights, attorneys sometime show the results of the machine are unreliable, and finally sometimes the breathalyzer can be excluded, because it wasn’t maintained & tested according to the rules.