In Miami Florida, DUIs are taken very seriously. A DUI charge can result in large financial penalties, legal restrictions on your actions, and, in some cases, prison time. Our second DUI attorneys have extensive experience winning DUI cases, and we will fight to ensure your rights & your future are protected.
Being arrested for a DUI can be a stressful and scary experience. It can often feel like your back is against the wall and that no one is on your side. With a qualified DUI attorney, you can have someone in your corner who will argue your case and make sure that you get the best legal outcome possible.
A competent DUI attorney can mean the differences between a lessened/dropped charge and a DUI conviction that will follow you around for the rest of your life.
If you are facing your second DUI charge, then the stakes are even higher. A second DUI charge can carry much harsher penalties than a first-time DUI charge.
If you are arrested for your second DUI within 5 years of being convicted of your first one, your arrest would be considered a second-time DUI offense. If you are being charged with a second-time DUI offense, then the stakes are even higher. It is in your best interest to contact a lawyer to handle the situation as quickly as possible.
If you do not have the proper defense, you will be highly likely to be convicted of a second-time DUI offense. It would help if you found a Miami lawyer ready to launch an aggressive defense to protect your wellbeing.
DUI Legal Definition in Florida
In Florida, the term DUI means that a person was operating or was in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both, such that their normal faculties were impaired at the time.
In Florida, in order to be convicted of a DUI, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the following three conditions:
- That a person was driving a vehicle OR
- That a person was in physical control of a vehicle, AND
- The person had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above
If the prosecution can prove these three conditions beyond a reasonable doubt then you can be convicted for a DUI by a judge or a jury.
It is important to realize that you can be convicted of a DUI even if you are not actually driving a car at the time.
All the prosecution has to prove is that you were in physical control of the vehicle while your BAC was above .08. Law enforcement will look at several criteria to determine if you were in physical control of the vehicle.
For example, you can be charged with a DUI if you are sleeping in your car while intoxicated and the keys are near the ignition, or if you are sitting in your car in park while intoxicated.
Under this definition. “Impaired faculties” include things like your ability to walk, speak, listen to directions, engage in small motor tasks, and more.
Implied Consent Laws in Florida
Florida DUI legislation operates on what is called an “implied consent” basis.
According to implied consent laws, whenever a person accepts the privilege of operating a motor vehicle, they have given tacit consent to be subjected to a field test or chemical substance test to determine their sobriety If you are pulled over and refuse to submit to such a test when requested by law enforcement officials, then your license can be suspended for up to a year.
It is important to note that if you are given a notice of suspension to your license for refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine analysis, then you have 10 days to combat the notice. If you do not combat the notice within 10 days, then you no longer can challenge it. That is why it is important to promptly seek out the services of a licensed DUI attorney.
It is also important to realize that a notice of suspension is not a criminal charge but a civil one, and any restrictions from this charge such as license suspension are separate from any criminal charges that you may incur if you are convicted of a DUI.
Consequences of a Second DUI Conviction
DUI charges in Florida are generally considered misdemeanor charges.
If you are arrested for your second DUI within 5 years, then you will most likely be a second or third-degree DUI charge. A second-degree DUI can carry up to a year in prison along with a hefty fine amounting to but not exceeding $2,000.
A second-DUI conviction can also have many other consequences.
For example, if you are convicted of a second-time DUI offense, then your license could be revoked for up to 5 years. You could also be required to attend mandatory substance abuse courses or mandatory community service. Nearly 3 quarters of second-degree DUI offenders in Florida are sentences to such mandatory courses.
Other potential legal punishments for second-degree DUI conviction could include:
Prison: A second-degree DUI conviction carries minimum 10-day incarceration and a max of 9 months unless your blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than .15 or there was a minor in the vehicle, in which case the maximum jail time is 12 months.
Vehicle impoundment: Your vehicle could be impounded for a maximum of 30 days which cannot occur until after any jail time has been served. Your vehicle can be impounded unless your family has no other means of transportation.
Probationary term: If you are convicted of a second-degree DUI, then you could be facing up to a 12-month probationary period. Credit for this period is granted for any jail time imposed.
Fines: Fines are between $1,000-$2,000 unless the BAC was .15 or higher or there was a minor in the vehicle, in which case the fine is between $2,000-$4,000.
Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device: You could be required to have a device installed in your car that checks your BAC before you can turn it on and drive it.
These effects can have far-reaching consequences aside from just legal and punitive ones.
If your license is revoked, it will be much harder to get to your job, which could affect your financial situation even more. You will also not be able to apply for a hardship license in this circumstance. It may also be much harder to get a job if you have a second-degree misdemeanor on your record.
In general, judges are more likely to convict a person for a second-time DUI offense.
For first-time offenses, judges and juries may be more willing to accept that the first-time occurrence was not representative of the care that you would normally exercise. If you already have a previous offense on your criminal record, then a judge and jury are less likely to be sympathetic.
Moreover, prosecutors in Florida take second-degree DUIs very seriously and are likely to pursue harsh charges. It is also important to note that prior DUI convictions in other states may also count as prior convictions in Florida.
Second DUI Conviction Outside of 5 Years
If you are arrested and convicted of a second DUI outside of 5 years since your previous DUI conviction, then the case will usually be handled as if it were a first-time DUI offense.
As such, you may be subjected to penalties pursuant to those administered for a first-time DUI offense, such as fines totaling up to $1,000, license suspension, mandatory substance abuse courses, or a jail sentence of up to 9 months (no minimum). You may also be required to install a mandatory ignition interlock device.
Second Offense DUI Felony Charge
Most of the time, first and second-offense DUIs are considered misdemeanor charges while further DUIs charges are considered felony charges. However, in certain circumstances, even a second-time DUI offense can be considered a felony charge. A felony is much more serious than a misdemeanor and carries much harsher legal and financial penalties.
If a person is seriously injured in a crash due to you driving under the influence, then your charge could be elevated to a third-degree felony DUI.
If you are being charged with a third-degree felony DUI, applicable punishments could include up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. You also may be required to pay restitution to the injured party such as paying their court expense, medical expenses, property damage costs, or loss of income.
If someone is killed during a crash due to your driving while under the influence, then your charge could be elevated to a charge of DUI manslaughter, which is considered a second-degree felony. A DUI manslaughter charge can carry up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to but not exceeding $15,000. As is the case for a third-degree DUI felony that results in physical injury, then the offending party may be required to pay damages to the injured party. But in the case of death, the offender may have to pay for funeral-related expenses.
Additionally, if someone commits DUI manslaughter and leaves the scene of the accident, then they can be charged with a felony of the first degree.
A first-degree felony DUI manslaughter charge can carry a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years in a Florida state prison and up to a $10,000 fine, along with payments for damages and restitution to the affected party or their family.
How Can a Second Offense DUI Lawyer Help?
If you are currently being charged with a second-offense DUI is very important that you seek legal counsel. A competent Miami attorney can help you get your charges dropped to a lower level or, in some cases, dropped entirely. Here are some strategies that a lawyer may take to help mitigate the charges on your case.
- Determine whether your rights were violated when you were initially pulled over or arrested
- Question the testimony and recollections of law enforcement who were present at the scene at the time of the arrest
- Determine whether there were any errors in the administration of a field sobriety test or a blood analysis test
- Determine whether there were any errors in the handling and processing of evidence for your case
- Argue that the prosecution has not met the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt by offering alternative explanations for why you appeared intoxicated (ex. hypoglycemia)
- Determine whether you are being wrongfully charged or that you were wrongfully arrested
Many people also do not realize the importance of hiring a local attorney.
Many firms take on any case they can get, no matter where they might be located. Hiring a local attorney can be beneficial for your case because a local attorney not only has the requisite knowledge of local laws and statutes but also typically knows the judge and prosecutions that will be involved in the case.
In these cases, an attorney with years of local experience can be helpful because they will know how to work with these people.
A DUI charge can be a serious occurrence, and a second-offense DUI charge even more. Aside from the legal and financial penalties, a second-offense DUI can carry far-reaching social consequences that could drastically affect your overall quality of life.
As a resident of the US, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Constitution. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A. we will work tirelessly to make sure that your process rights are being honored and that you get the most optimal outcome possible.
If you are being charged with a second-offense DUI, then it is important that you get legal representation as quickly as possible. Feel free to call us at (754) 755-8554 to schedule a consultation to examine the facts of your cases and explore possible legal avenues to a solution.