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Driving Under the Influence in Florida
  • First DUI
  • Second DUI
  • Third or More SUI
  • DUI with Property Damage
  • DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
  • Aggravated DUI
  • DUI Manslaughter

 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a violation of Florida Statute 316.193, which is a criminal charge.  A DUI arrest and conviction can have far-reaching and severe consequences, affecting your personal and professional lives.  Upon conviction of DUI, you can lose your license, pay steep fines, face jail time, be placed on probation, and undergo substance abuse or alcohol abuse counseling. Most people need the ability to drive in order to keep or get a job. If losing your license costs you your job, the bad luck can easily snowball into very serious challenges.

 

A person can be convicted of DUI if she or he was under the influence of any substance while operating or having physical control of a vehicle. There is a lot to unpack in that simple statement. A field sobriety test will usually be conducted to determine whether you are capable of operating a vehicle in that moment. A Breathalyzer may also be conducted, which you will fail if your blood alcohol level registers over 0.08 for an adult or 0.02 for a juvenile. If you fail either of these tests, the police can arrest you for DUI.

 

You do not have to be driving to get a DUI. The test for whether you can be arrested for DUI is whether you could drive the vehicle at any moment- called physical control. For example; if you are sleeping in the front seat of the vehicle with the keys in your pocket, you can be arrested for DUI because you could wake up and begin driving at any time. This physical control part of the DUI law is very complex. 

 

An attorney can build a strong defense in your case. An attorney can help you submit evidence that the breathalyzer test was flawed, the police failed to read your Miranda rights, the follow up blood or urine test was flawed, or that the police did not have probable cause to stop you in the first place. There are many defenses to a DUI, and each must be uniquely tailored to the circumstances.

 

First DUI

A first DUI is a second-degree misdemeanor. Punishments for DUI vary depending on the severity of the charge, but that does not mean that you will get off easy since if it your first offense. Florida has a zero tolerance policy for incapacitated driving, so all DUIs are punished heavily.

 

Upon arrest for a DUI the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will place an order to have your license suspended, under authority of Florida Statute 322.2615. Although you will not have been convicted of a DUI, your driving privileges will already be suspended. At attorney can assist you with requesting a review hearing within 10 days to ask a judge to reinstate your driving privileges.

 

Other punishments can include:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Driver’s License suspension
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Substance abuse or alcohol abuse counseling
  • Vehicle impound (with the steep fees)
  • Community service
  • A criminal record
  • Higher prices or special auto insurance

 

 

Second DUI

A second DUI is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are arrested for a second DUI within five (5) years of the first DUI, the punishments become more severe.

 

In addition to the punishments for a first DUI, you can or will also face the following punishments:

  • A Mandatory Minimum of 10 days in jail, with a maximum of nine (9) months
  • Restrictive Driver’s License programs
  • Longer probation periods
  • More community service hours
  • Larger fines
  • House arrest

 

Third or More DUI

A third DUI is a third-degree felony, while a fourth DUI is considered felony DUI regardless of the time frame in which the other DUIs occurred. If you are arrested for a DUI three times within a ten (10) year period, you will be labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender. This will result in a license revocation for five (5) years.

 

In addition to the above punishments, you can or will also face:

  • Court fines and increased DUI fines
  • FR-44 auto insurance
  • Longer periods of probation
  • Increased community service hours
  • More restrictive Driver’s License programs, such as ignition locks
  • Increased jail time
  • Loss of employment due to license revocation
  • Expensive fees to have your license reinstated after 5 years

 

DUI with Property Damage

If you are driving under the influence and you cause damage to the property of another person, you will be guilty of the elevated offence of DUI with Property Damage and will be liable to pay for the damage caused.  This is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute 316.193(3), which carries with it up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If there are physical injuries to a person or if the driver has past DUI convictions, the penalties will be more severe. These penalties are in addition to the penalties listed above for DUI.

 

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury is a third-degree felony which occurs when a person is operating a motor vehicle and causes severe injuries, resulting in disfigurement or permanent disability, to another person. In order to convict you of DUI with Serious Bodily Injury the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You were operating or had control over the vehicle
  • You were under the influence
  • That serious bodily harm resulted from your actions

It does not matter if this is your first DUI offense because injury was caused. The prosecutor can still bring stiff penalties. In addition to the above listed penalties for DUI, you can also receive:

  • $5,000 in fines
  • 96 points on your Driver’s License
  • Up to five (5) years in prison

A criminal defense attorney can use the same argument as for other DUI convictions to attack the breath, blood, or field tests to prove you were not under the influence. An attorney can also defend you by building a case that shows you were not the cause of the serious injury, or that the injury was due to the other driver’s negligence. While this will not remove the DUI, it may remove the “serious bodily injury” portion, and the associated penalties.

 

Aggravated DUI

Aggravated DUI is also known as Felony DUI. This charge occurs when the circumstances of the DUI are especially sensitive or offensive to the public trust.  For example, if you have a blood alcohol content over 0.08 and are driving with a minor child in the car or you are driving under the influence without a valid Driver’s License, it is considered Aggravated DUI. The punishment for Aggravated DUI is:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison
  • Up to five (5) years on probation
  • Alcohol abuse treatment program
  • Lifetime Driver’s License revocation
  • DUI school
  • Vehicle impoundment for up to 90 days
  • Restitution
  • Steep court fines and fees; usually between $2,000 to $5,000
  • A criminal record

 

DUI Manslaughter

DUI Manslaughter occurs when a person other than the at-fault driver dies as the result of driving under the influence. This is a second-degree felony, and is the most serious of the DUI charges. Similar to DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, the prosecutor must prove the following in order to convict you:

  • You were operating or were in control of the vehicle
  • You were under the influence
  • The death was a result of your actions

 

The Florida Legislature recently imposed a four (4) year minimum mandatory prison sentence for DUI Manslaughter convictions under Florida Statute 316.193(3)(c)(3). Most people who are found guilty face closer to the maximum of 15 years in prison. This is because when a fatality occurs as the result of intoxicated driving, the DSHWV imposes 120 “victim injury points” on the defendant’s license. The sentencing guidelines that judges are required to follow assign usually between 10 and 12 years in prison based solely on the number of points. Once the defendant’s past driving record, criminal history, or other circumstances are brought to light, and with the victim’s family pushing for the maximum penalty, most people who are convicted will face more than even the 10- 12 years in prison. If you failed to render aid to the victim, like stopping and calling 911, you could face up to 30 years in prison.

 

A prosecutor has the ability to waive the four (4) year minimum prison sentence.  This can happen if your attorney can build a case that will mount substantial evidence to prove the death was not your fault or that the deceased person was the primary cause of his or her own death. There are also procedural defenses, like those used in standard DUI cases, which an attorney can use to defend you. These defenses consist of failing to read your Miranda rights or an improperly administered Breathalyzer test.

Call Attorney David Cronin at (904) 239-6047 for your free consultation to get started on defending you from your DUI charge.

The Law Offices of David Cronin offer same day representation, so you do not miss your window to request driving privileges are reinstated, and to stop the head-start the prosecutor is already gaining against you.

Criminal Traffic
A traffic stop, which is a noncriminal citation, can turn into a criminal violation quickly. Any offense, such as drug possession, that occurs in a vehicle can be considered a criminal traffic violation. Traffic Offenses are the most highly prosecuted crime in Florida. Many people overlook the consequences of traffic offenses because they are perceived as minor, but resulting the criminal violation can have serious consequences.

Attorney David Cronin has years of experience defending clients against criminal traffic charges. Let Mr. Cronin help you defend your charge for:

Reckless Driving
Invalid or Suspended Driver’s License
Leaving the Scene of the Accident
Habitual Traffic Offender

Reckless Driving

Florida Statute 316.192 defines Reckless Driving as operating a motor vehicle in a manner demonstrating a willful or wanton disregard for safety. Reckless Driving is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony if there is injury involved. In order to prosecute you for Reckless Driving the State must prove (1) you were the person operating the vehicle, and (2) you has a willful or wanton disregard for safety. An attorney can assist with crafting a defense to prove that you lacked the necessary mental state, or to prove that you were not the actual driver.

Proving willful and wanton conduct is a heavy burden on the prosecutor. To act willfully means that you had intent, knowledge, and/or purpose. To act wantonly is to have a conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences, including the damage that is likely to be caused. Proving your mental state requires a very fact intensive inquiry which determines the circumstances and your foreseeability of harm.

Penalties for Reckless driving range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony, depending on the circumstances. If no person or property is damaged, the penalty is a maximum of 90 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a $500 fine. For a second offense of Reckless Driving you may receive up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the Reckless Driving resulted in damage to property or minor injury to a person, you may receive up to 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. If a person is severely injured, you could face a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Invalid or Suspended Driver’s License

A Driver’s License may be suspended due to accrual of points, delinquency judgments, DUI convictions, failing to pay fines, criminal charges, failing to appear in court, or similar reasons. Once a person has lost his or her license, operating a motor vehicle on public streets is a violation of the law, and can lead to arrest, according to Florida statute 322.34. Driving on a suspended license can result in up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense. Upon a second arrest for driving on a suspended license you can face up to 1 year in jail and additional fines. After a third arrest for driving on a suspended license you may be labeled a Habitual Offender (see below) if the arrests took place within a 5 year period.

Many times the driver is not aware that his or her license was suspended. In order to be convicted for Driving on a Suspended License you must know of the suspension and drive anyway. An attorney can help you defend against this charge so that you stay out of jail and get your license back.

Driving Without a License is a separate criminal charge. This criminal charge is instituted when the driver was operating a motor vehicle on a public road without ever having a valid license, per Florida Statute 322.03(1). Driving Without a License is a second degree misdemeanor, so you can face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted. The most important thing to understand about a charge for Driving Without a License is that you can be charged even if you did not know you were committing a crime.

Usually this charge is brought against illegal immigrants to enhance other charges against the immigrant. However; using this charge under those circumstances violates House Bill 7059, which allows immigrants to legally operate a motor vehicle as long as they have a valid license in their home country.

An attorney is valuable in defending against a license charge. Many defendants attempt to defend themselves on their own. This is usually a mistake. An attorney review the case to spot defenses that the average defendant may not realize existed. Even if there is no valid defense to the charge, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf to have the charge or the penalty reduced. Let Attorney David Cronin fight for you.

Leaving the Scene of the Accident

You may be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or Hit and Run, if you were involved in any type of collision and did not stay for help to arrive. Florida Statute 316.027 makes it a criminal violation to cause an accident resulting in damage to person or property, and to leave the crash area without providing contact information in the event of property damage or rendering aid in the event of injury.

You can be charged with Leaving the Scene:

• With Property Damage
o Punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a $500 fine
• Involving Injury
o Punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, license revocation for 3 years, and a $5,000 fine
• Involving Serious Injury, or
o Punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, license for 3 years, and a $10,000 fine
• Involving Death
o Punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation, license revocation for 3 years, and a $10,000 fine

In order to be charged with Leaving the Scene, you must know there is an accident in the first place. For example; a person could hit a pedestrian on a dark road and leave thinking it was a deer that ran away. That person likely is not guilty of leaving the scene because the driver did not know there was an injured person. Further, an attorney may be able to defend you by arguing that you rendered sufficient aid or that you did not cause the injury. Let an attorney craft your defense and negotiate on your behalf. Leaving the Scene of an Accident is a serious charge that should not be handled without adequate representation.

Habitual Traffic Offender

You may be considered a Habitual Traffic Offender under Florida Statute 322.264 if, within a 5 year period, you receive at least 3 convictions of the following offenses:
• Vehicular manslaughter
• DUI
• Driving on a suspended or revoked license
• Driving a commercial vehicle without the proper license
• A felony using a motor vehicle
• Leaving the scene of an accident,

Or 15 convictions of moving violations. If you are found to be a habitual offender your license will be revoked for 5 years. After 5 years you may ask the court to reinstate your driving privileges, but you will be responsible for court costs and reinstatement fees, which can be expensive.

An attorney can help you defend the charge as well as try to keep your driving privileges. An attorney can negotiate for a hardship license, which is a temporary license which allows you to drive to and from work. An attorney can also help restore your driving privileges sooner because an attorney can contest the designation as “habitual” or can help to vacate prior charges that accumulated to lead to the designation as a habitual offender in the first place.

Invalid or Suspended Driver’s License

A Driver’s License may be suspended due to accrual of points, delinquency judgments, DUI convictions, failing to pay fines, criminal charges, failing to appear in court, or similar reasons. Once a person has lost his or her license, operating a motor vehicle on public streets is a violation of the law, and can lead to arrest, according to Florida statute 322.34. Driving on a suspended license can result in up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense. Upon a second arrest for driving on a suspended license you can face up to 1 year in jail and additional fines. After a third arrest for driving on a suspended license you may be labeled a Habitual Offender (see below) if the arrests took place within a 5 year period.

 

Many times the driver is not aware that his or her license was suspended. In order to be convicted for Driving on a Suspended License you must know of the suspension and drive anyway. An attorney can help you defend against this charge so that you stay out of jail and get your license back.

 

Driving Without a License is a separate criminal charge. This criminal charge is instituted when the driver was operating a motor vehicle on a public road without ever having a valid license, per Florida Statute 322.03(1). Driving Without a License is a second degree misdemeanor, so you can face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted. The most important thing to understand about a charge for Driving Without a License is that you can be charged even if you did not know you were committing a crime.

 

Usually this charge is brought against illegal immigrants to enhance other charges against the immigrant. However; using this charge under those circumstances violates House Bill 7059, which allows immigrants to legally operate a motor vehicle as long as they have a valid license in their home country.

 

An attorney is valuable in defending against a license charge. Many defendants attempt to defend themselves on their own. This is usually a mistake. An attorney review the case to spot defenses that the average defendant may not realize existed. Even if there is no valid defense to the charge, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf to have the charge or the penalty reduced. Let Attorney David Cronin fight for you.

Reckless Driving

Florida Statute 316.192 defines Reckless Driving as operating a motor vehicle in a manner demonstrating a willful or wanton disregard for safety. Reckless Driving is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony if there is injury involved. In order to prosecute you for Reckless Driving the State must prove (1) you were the person operating the vehicle, and (2) you has a willful or wanton disregard for safety. An attorney can assist with crafting a defense to prove that you lacked the necessary mental state, or to prove that you were not the actual driver.

Proving willful and wanton conduct is a heavy burden on the prosecutor. To act willfully means that you had intent, knowledge, and/or purpose. To act wantonly is to have a conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences, including the damage that is likely to be caused. Proving your mental state requires a very fact intensive inquiry which determines the circumstances and your foreseeability of harm.

Penalties for Reckless driving range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony, depending on the circumstances. If no person or property is damaged, the penalty is a maximum of 90 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a $500 fine. For a second offense of Reckless Driving you may receive up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the Reckless Driving resulted in damage to property or minor injury to a person, you may receive up to 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. If a person is severely injured, you could face a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

 

Leaving the Scene of the Accident

You may be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or Hit and Run, if you were involved in any type of collision and did not stay for help to arrive. Florida Statute 316.027 makes it a criminal violation to cause an accident resulting in damage to person or property, and to leave the crash area without providing contact information in the event of property damage or rendering aid in the event of injury. You may be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or Hit and Run, if you were involved in any type of collision and did not stay for help to arrive. Florida Statute 316.027 makes it a criminal violation to cause an accident resulting in damage to person or property, and to leave the crash area without providing contact information in the event of property damage or rendering aid in the event of injury. 

You can be charged with Leaving the Scene:

  • With Property Damage
    • Punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a $500 fine
  • Involving Injury
    • Punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, license revocation for 3 years, and a $5,000 fine•
  • Involving Serious Injury, or
    • Punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, license for 3 years, and a $10,000 fine•
  • Involving Death
    • Punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation, license revocation for 3 years, and a $10,000 fine

In order to be charged with Leaving the Scene, you must know there is an accident in the first place. For example; a person could hit a pedestrian on a dark road and leave thinking it was a deer that ran away. That person likely is not guilty of leaving the scene because the driver did not know there was an injured person. Further, an attorney may be able to defend you by arguing that you rendered sufficient aid or that you did not cause the injury. Let an attorney craft your defense and negotiate on your behalf. Leaving the Scene of an Accident is a serious charge that should not be handled without adequate representation.

 

 

Habitual Traffic Offender

You may be considered a Habitual Traffic Offender under Florida Statute 322.264 if, within a 5 year period, you receive at least 3 convictions of the following offenses:

  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • DUI
  • Driving on a suspended or revoked license
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without the proper license
  • A felony using a motor vehicle
  • Leaving the scene of an accident, 

Or 15 convictions of moving violations. If you are found to be a habitual offender your license will be revoked for 5 years. After 5 years you may ask the court to reinstate your driving privileges, but you will be responsible for court costs and reinstatement fees, which can be expensive. 
An attorney can help you defend the charge as well as try to keep your driving privileges. An attorney can negotiate for a hardship license, which is a temporary license which allows you to drive to and from work. An attorney can also help restore your driving privileges sooner because an attorney can contest the designation as “habitual” or can help to vacate prior charges that accumulated to lead to the designation as a habitual offender in the first place. 

Is Driving Under the Influence a misdemeanor or a felony?
Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. So, as lawyers tend to frequently say, “it depends.” A first DUI charge is usually a misdemeanor. A second DUI within 5 years is still usually a misdemeanor, but it carries harsher penalties. A third DUI arrest within 10 years is a felony. A fourth or subsequent DUI arrest is a felony, regardless of when your last DUI occurred. If, during the course of the DUI, you significantly damaged property or seriously injured someone, the charge could be a felony.

What type of sanctions are you exposed to after being arrested for DUI?

The type of sanctions you will be exposed to after being arrested for DUI will depend on a few things: (1) how many DUI convictions you have prior to the current one, (2) the time frame between this arrest and your previous DUI conviction(s), (3) your Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”), (4) if a person under the age of 18 accompanied you in the vehicle, (5) if you damaged property, and (6) if you seriously injured or killed someone.

First DUI Conviction Sanctions

  1. A fine between $500 – $1,000
  2. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, the fine will be between $1,000 – $2,000
  3. Probation not to exceed 12 months
  4. Incarceration not to exceed 6 months
  5. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, incarceration not to exceed 9 months
  6. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  7. A minimum of 50 hours of community service
  8. Vehicle impoundment of 10 days
  9. Driver’s license suspension between 6 months – 12 months
  10. Completion of an approved DUI course
  11. Ignition Interlock device for 6 months

Second DUI Conviction (Outside of 5 Years) Sanctions

  1. A fine between $1,000 – $2,000
  2. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, the fine will be between $2,000 – $4,000
  3. Probation
  4. Incarceration not to exceed 9 months
  5. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, incarceration not to exceed 12 months
  6. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  7. Ignition interlock device for 12 months
  8. Driver’s license suspension between 6 months – 12 months
  9. Completion of an approved DUI course
  10. Vehicle impoundment of 10 days

Second DUI Conviction (Within 5 Years) Sanctions

  1. A fine between $1,000 – $2,000
  2. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, the fine will be between $2,000 – $4,000
  3. Probation
  4. Incarceration for no less than 10 days and no more than 9 months
  5. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or accompanied by a minor, incarceration not to exceed 12 months
  6. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  7. Ignition interlock device for at least 12 months
  8. Driver’s license suspension for 5 years
  9. Vehicle impoundment for 30 days
  10. Completion of an approved DUI course

Third DUI Conviction (Outside of 10 Years) Sanctions

  1. A fine between $2,000 – $5,000
  2. Probation
  3. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  4. Incarceration not to exceed 12 months
  5. Ignition interlock device for at least 2 years

Third DUI Conviction (Within 10 Years) Sanctions

  1. A fine between $1,000 – $5,000
  2. Probation
  3. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  4. Incarceration for not less than 30 days
  5. Ignition interlock device for not less than 2 years
  6. Vehicle impoundment for 90 days
  7. Driver’s license suspension of 10 years

 

Fourth or Subsequent DUI Conviction Sanctions

  1. A fine not less than $2,000
  2. Probation
  3. Completion of an approved substance abuse course and any recommended treatment
  4. Permanent revocation of driver’s license
  5. Ignition interlock device for not less than 2 years

 

 

The above-mentioned sanctions provide a summary of what your exposure will be when facing a DUI charge. DUI cases can be extremely complex and raise numerous legal issues. It’s important to have a criminal defense attorney that is familiar with these issues and David Cronin has many years of experience in defending these cases. Call (904) 239-6047 for a free consultation today.

Criminal defense attorney David S. Cronin has represented thousands of clients in cases ranging from misdemeanor assault to major felony offenses. David Cronin has been practicing law throughout Florida for two decades – working directly with people who are facing harsh penalties for mistakes they wish they could undo.

Hire an attorney who understands your situation and will fight not only to reduce your penalties, but also to uphold your rights. 

The Law office of David S. Cronin defends in Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. John’s counties.

Contact Us

Address
3103 North Main Street Jacksonville, Florida 32206

Hours
Monday—Friday: 8:00AM–6:00PM
Saturday & Sunday: By Appointment Only

Cell Phone 24/7
(904) 239-6047