DUI vs DWI: Is there a Difference in Florida?

When it comes to driving under the influence, most people have a general knowledge of what it entails. It is well known that it involves getting behind the wheel after consuming too many alcoholic beverages. Not only is it a dangerous activity that could lead to severely injuring or killing someone, but, even if you don’t get into an accident, you could get pulled over and face criminal charges. But, what exactly are these consequences? And, is there a difference between a DUI and a DWI in Florida?

DUI vs DWI in Florida

The term DUI refers to driving under the influence, while the term DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. They both mean the same thing. However, the Florida law that establishes the legal definition of the term is titled Driving Under the Influence.

Florida Statutes Section 316.193 states that a person will be deemed to have been driving under the influence of either alcoholic beverages or harmful chemical substances when such consumption impairs a person’s faculties.

When it comes to alcohol, a person will be considered to be a drunk driver if their blood alcohol level is 0.08 or more. How many beverages it takes to reach such a level varies greatly from person to person, depending on their height, weight, gender, how fast their body metabolizes alcohol, and whether they had food along with their beverages.

What are the DUI penalties in Florida?

The penalties for driving under the influence in Florida depend on the circumstances. These include:

For a First Conviction

The penalty is a fine between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. This is the penalty regardless of whether you feel impaired to drive. If your BAC is .08 or above, you’re on the hook for the conviction.

For a Second Conviction

The penalty is a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, and imprisonment of up to nine months. In addition, a person convicted for the second time will have to install — at their own expense — an interlock device on their vehicle’s ignition to prove they are not under the influence prior to driving. This device will remain in the car for a period of one year.

For a Third Conviction

The penalty for a third conviction within 10 years of previous convictions is a third-degree felony. This means it is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years imprisonment. In addition, once out of prison, the person will have to install an interlock device — at their own expense — for two years. If the third conviction occurs after 10 years from a previous conviction, the penalty is a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 and up to one-year imprisonment, as well as installing an interlock device on their car for two years.

If a Person Died

If you got into an accident for driving under the influence and a person died from the impact or injuries sustained, you’d be facing a manslaughter charge, which is a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and 15 years in prison.

In addition to the penalties described above, a judge may also order offenders to complete a substance abuse course, undergo a psychosocial evaluation, and report monthly to a probation officer. All costs associated with these processes are done at the expense of the offender.

How can a lawyer help with a DUI in Florida?

A DUI attorney can help you mitigate the impact of a DUI conviction on your life. For example, if you were not feeling impaired and it had been a while since you drank alcohol prior to driving, an attorney could question the accuracy of the device used to measure your BAC. An attorney would also be able to cross-examine (question) the officer who pulled you over, as well as any witnesses. If you refused a breathalyzer at the time of the arrest, an attorney would look at the accuracy of a subsequent urine or blood test.

On the other hand, if you were indeed impaired to drive, an attorney can help you get your charges reduced — such as to a reckless driving charge. An attorney could also help you obtain a permit to get behind the wheel to go to and from work and/or school. If your charges get reduced to reckless driving, the fines could range between $25 and $1,000, and imprisonment could be between three to six months. Every case is different, and the only way to determine whether your charges could be diminished is to consult with an experienced DUI attorney.

Call Clark Law If You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in Tampa Bay

If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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