Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a charge that sneaks up on many folk every year. All that it takes is a single drink and an over-zealous officer to find yourself charged with DUI in South Florida. Don’t delay in contacting an attorney. Once arrested, people are often confused about what to do and there are deadlines the officers don’t tell you about.

Generally, you only have ten days, sometimes called the “10 day rule,” to protect your license form suspension or to challenge a suspension with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Given the short timeline, this is often a first concern in the DUI defense arena. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to save your license. Driving is practically a modern day necessity and driving without a license can lead to additional charges and a cycle of arrests that can be difficult to escape. It is important to get ahead of things before they snowball.

As to the criminal aspect, DUIs carry very significant consequences which increase with each offense. If there is property damage, bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death resulting from a DUI related accident, there are additional criminal and civil ramifications that an experienced attorney can help you defend against.

The law allows for the prosecution of anyone deemed to be in control of a vehicle or driving under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or chemical substance to the extent their normal faculties are impaired. In order to prove simple DUI, the State of Florida must prove the following elements of the crime:

  1. The Defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.

  2. While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, Defendant

    1. was under the influence of alcoholic beverages, a chemical substance, and/or a controlled substance to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired.
    2. and/or

    3. had a breath-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath or a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

This means that even if you are below the “legal limit,” of .08, you can still be prosecuted if your normal faculties are deemed to be impaired by alcohol. Who makes this determination on the night of arrest? The investigating officer does, based on their training and experience and a few very difficult exercises.

Everyone has seen the videos of the roadside exercises, including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand, and the finger-to-nose test. What people don’t know is that these are very exact exercises, with very exact instructions. People might be deemed to have performed poorly by one officer and passed by another, based on fractions of an inch. Failure to obey the smallest instruction may be the reason a person is arrested. Some exercises are not even admissible against the defendant, depending on the officer’s qualifications, yet they continue to use them in making arrest decisions.

After this arrest decision is made, the officer will then ask you to submit to breath, urine, or blood testing to determine the presence of alcohol, chemical, or controlled substances. This usually involves the dreaded breath testing machine, the Intoxilyzer 8000. The decision to submit is voluntary, but anyone with a license has previously agreed to this and consent is implied at law. There can be consequences to refusing, but there can also be consequences to submitting, including helping law enforcement gather evidence against you. The machines used to test breath, urine, and blood often engender feelings of mistrust, and sometimes with good reason.

An experienced trial attorney can help you challenge a license suspension or mitigate consequences to your driving privilege. In addition, a defense attorney can help you understand which evidence, if any, can be used against you at trial, fight to limit the State of Florida’s case, and help you reach a just result. If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade County, contact our office immediately to set up a free consultation.