“Drunk Driving,” the “Legal Limit,” “Under the Influence,” and Alcohol or “Drugs”
Many people believe that you can only be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if you are driving drunk. This is not true. In Florida, the State must prove you were impaired, not drunk. Impaired means a diminishment, a lessening of your normal faculties. You can even be convicted without impairment if your alcohol level is above the legal limit, whether you are impaired or not. In Florida, the legal limit is 0.08. If the State proves your alcohol level was above 0.08, they need not prove any impairment. Many people also believe that you can only be charged with DUI if you have consumed alcohol. This is not true. You can also be convicted if you are “under the influence” of drugs, even prescription drugs. If you're taking prescription medications, you run a risk of receiving a DUI. Some prescription medications that may render you an unsafe driver are Valium, Oxycodone, Xanax, and Dilaudid. Naturally, if you are taking illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin you also stand a chance of receiving a DUI.
Here's more information about two common forms of DUI charges—DUI and DUI Manslaughter—to help you understand what could happen if you face either of these charges.
As previously mentioned, you don't have to be drunk to be charged with a DUI.
What Happens if I'm convicted of a DUI?
First of all, the severity of your charges depend on whether this is your first DUI offense. If it is, your consequences will be less severe than if it's your second, third or subsequent DUI offense. Actually, any previous charges and how much time has passed since your last conviction will be factors in your sentence and in your bargaining position.
For example, if this is your first DUI conviction, then at a minimum, you will face:
- A suspended license for 6 months,
- Probation for up to one year,
- A maximum jail sentence of 6 months (if your alcohol level was below 0.15) or 9 months (if it was above 0.15),
- DUI school,
- Substance abuse treatment,
- 50 hours of community service, and
- A $500 (if your alcohol level was below 0.15) or $1,000 fine (if it was above 0.15).
- Your vehicle impounded for 10 days,
Additionally, it's possible that you may have:
- An ignition interlock for 6 months (if you blew over a 0.15), and
- Additional fines (if your alcohol level was above 0.15
If you have been arrested for DUI and even formally charged with a DUI, it does not mean you have been convicted. It's important that you call a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. DUI charges have serious consequences, even if you're a first-time offender. It's best to get legal representation and help from a lawyer quickly.
If you have been charged with DUI Manslaughter, it means that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) and you caused an accident where a person or unborn child died. Even if this is your first DUI, the charges will be severe. Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. This is a very serious situation, and you want someone who knows the law to help you as soon as possible.
What Happens if I'm Charged with a DUI Manslaughter?
In Florida, DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The law presumes a sentence of over 10 years for a first offense, and requires the judge sentence you to NO LESS THAN FOUR YEARS in prison. If you failed to stop at the crash and help the injured individual, the State can charge it as a first-degree felony punishable by up to a life in prison.
Here are some other consequences that you can expect as a result of your DUI Manslaughter charge:
- A 4-year minimum with up to 15 years (if you received a second degree DUI Manslaughter charge) or 30 years in prison (if you received a first degree DUI Manslaughter charge),
- DUI school,
- Substance abuse treatment,
- A $10,000 fine,
- Permanently revoked license if you're found guilty or plead guilty,
- If you qualify for a Hardship license, you'll have to have an ignition interlock for at least 2 years, and
- A probation period of up to 15 years.
Get an Experienced Lawyer
If you've been charged with a DUI or DUI Manslaughter in Florida, you need a qualified criminal defense lawyer like Malcolm Anthony. His years of experience in criminal defense will help you in this difficult situation. Let him guide you through this challenging time and work to get you the best results possible for your situation. Give him a call today at 904.285.4529 (4LAW).