Getting a DUI in Florida: Myths and Facts
Tens of thousands of people are arrested every year in Florida for driving under the influence. But even with so many people facing these charges, there are still some major myths and misconceptions about DUI offenses that never seem to go away. Here are some of the most common ones:
Myth: In order to violate Florida’s DUI laws, the alcohol level of your breath or blood must be .08 or higher.
Fact: For most Floridians, .08 is the level at which they are too drunk to legally drive. Florida Statute 316.193 states that a blood alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood – or a breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath – is sufficient for a driver to be guilty of driving under the influence.
What many people don’t realize is that the rules are different if you are under the age of 21. Florida has a “zero tolerance” policy for driving under the influence of alcohol when you are below the legal drinking age. Under Florida Statute 322.2616, your license can be suspended if you are under 21, and your blood alcohol or breath alcohol level is .02 or higher.
It does not take much alcohol to get you to a .02. Many young drivers are stunned when they realize that they are facing a six-month (or longer) suspension of their license, even though the level of alcohol in their breath or blood was well below. 08.
Myth: If you are cited for a DUI, your driving privileges are suspended immediately.
Fact: You can drive legally for a 10-day period following a DUI citation. Your driver’s license will be suspended when you are cited, but this does not mean that you immediately lose your right to drive. Believe it or not, your DUI citation serves as a 10-day driving permit.
Those 10 days are also the period of time during which you can request an administrative hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. An administrative hearing is your opportunity to argue that your license should not be suspended. If you do not request this hearing within 10 days of receiving a DUI citation, you cannot challenge the suspension of your license.
Myth: If you are arrested for a DUI offense, and the police do not read you your Miranda rights, then you cannot be convicted.
Fact: This is an extremely common misconception, which is not limited to DUI cases. Many people believe that when you are arrested, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights (that is, “You have the right to remain silent…” and so on), or else your case must be thrown out.
This is simply not the way it works. If you are suspected of a crime, you are in police custody, and the police interrogate you without first reading you your Miranda rights, then what you tell them cannot be used against you in court.
Myth: If you received a DUI citation, and your alcohol level was above the legal limit, there’s no way you’ll be able to fight the charges, so you shouldn’t bother hiring an attorney.
Fact: There are defenses to DUI charges, no matter what the tests said about your alcohol level. A good lawyer knows that there are multiple reasons why the tests might have been working improperly. Mark S. Lowry is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who has handled many DUI cases over the years. You can contact his office today for a consultation.