For many drivers, the sight of red and blue lights in the rearview mirror and the sound of police sirens can be a source of stress and anxiety. But for those who have consumed alcohol, the stakes are even higher. Despite a legal blood alcohol limit of .08 in Florida, drivers who register below this limit can still find themselves facing arrest and charges for driving under the influence.
The law in Florida states that an individual can be charged with DUI if they are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the extent that their "normal faculties are impaired." In other words, if a police officer determines that a driver is too drunk to operate a vehicle safely, they can be arrested for DUI, even if they blow under a .08 on a breathalyzer test.
This subjectivity of DUI charges makes them highly prone to discretion, with the arresting officer having the final say on whether or not a driver should be charged with DUI. This means that an officer can exercise their discretionary authority to arrest a driver if they believe that their level of intoxication poses a danger to themselves or others on the road.
Why You May Still Face DUI Charges Despite a Low BAC
Drivers who register a blood alcohol content (BAC) below the legal limit of .08 may still find themselves facing DUI charges. There are several reasons why this may occur, including:
- Police Suspicion of Impairment: A police officer may suspect that a driver's normal faculties are impaired, even if their BAC falls below the legal limit.
- Field Sobriety Test Failure: If a driver is unable to pass a field sobriety test, they may be charged with DUI, regardless of their BAC level.
- Suspicion of Illegal Drug Use: A police officer may suspect that a driver is under the influence of illegal drugs, even if their BAC is below the legal limit.
- The appearance of Intoxication: If a driver appears to be intoxicated, they may be charged with DUI, even if their BAC is below the legal limit.
When conducting a traffic stop, law enforcement officers are trained to look for signs that a driver may be under the influence of alcohol. These signs can include physical symptoms such as bloodshot or watery eyes, a flushed face, slurred speech, or the unmistakable odor of alcohol.
In addition to these physical symptoms, officers may also look for other indicators of intoxication, such as difficulties exiting the vehicle, fumbling with a driver's license or registration, repeated questions or comments, swaying while walking or standing still, an aggressive attitude, and an inability to follow directions.
Stiff Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Florida
In Florida, the consequences of a DUI charge can vary widely based on the number of prior convictions and the offender's BAC level. For first-time offenders, the penalties can be severe and include but are not limited to license suspension or revocation, completion of a state-mandated DUI program, community service, a jail sentence of up to six months, installation of an ignition interlock device, probation, vehicle impoundment, and fines of up to $1,000.
The penalties can be even more severe for those who have been convicted of a DUI before. A second-time offense can result in license suspension or revocation for up to one year or up to five years if the second offense occurs within five years of the first. Additionally, the offender may be required to complete a state-mandated DUI program, pay fines of up to $1,000, and serve an enhanced jail sentence.
Keep in mind that the penalties of a DUI conviction become increasingly severe with each subsequent offense. Therefore, if you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to protect your rights and minimize the potential consequences.
Get Legal Help for Your Florida DUI Case. Get Grajek.
If you've been arrested and charged with a DUI, don't wait to get legal help. Instead, contact a DUI attorney today to discuss your case and start building a strong defense. An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options.
With over 25 years of experience representing individuals charged with DUI and a proven track record of success, Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law, can fight for the best possible outcome of your case.
If you have recently been arrested for DUI in Polk, Hillsborough, or Pasco County, time is of the essence. To discuss your case and explore your options, contact the firm for a confidential consultation by filling out the online form or by calling 863-251-5385.
Don't let a DUI conviction ruin your life. Get Grajek and get the legal help you need today.