Driving under the influence, commonly known as DUI, is among the most common criminal offenses. Regardless of background, ethnicity or financial status, DUIs affect people from all walks of life. In Florida, DUIs, even though a misdemeanor, are treated very seriously by the prosecution and the courts.  If convicted of a DUI or BUI in Florida you could face;  steep fines, mandatory jail time, required installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, costly education classes, immobilization of your vehicle and suspension of your driver’s license.

What is a DUI?

In Florida, there are two specific charges that are typically used in an arrest for DUI:

  1. DUI, driving under the influence with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or higher.
  2. DUI, driving while under the influence of drugs.

When the accused is operating a boat, instead of a car, the charge of DUI is called BUI. DUI and BUI are crimes that are prosecuted in county court. They are usually misdemeanor offenses. If a person has been convicted of more than three DUIs within 10 years, the State of Florida can elect to charge that person with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. The courts mandate certain DUI and BUI penalties depending on the defendant’s prior record, the amount of alcohol consumed, any crimes committed or property damage while under the influence, and whether there were injuries or death as a result of the DUI or BUI.

What are the different types of DUI?

DUIs come in all shapes and sizes. On the misdemeanor level, a person can be charged with a simple DUI. A simple DUI is the most common form of the offense and usually involves a circumstance where someone has no prior record and the evidence is an erratic driving pattern, coupled with either the suspect failing the roadside exercises and/or failing a breath test. There DUIs do not involve property damage, injury to the Defendant or another, or any other related behavior like leaving the scene of the accident or fleeing and eluding. Those offenses have minimum mandatory sentences that increase if the suspect blood is over a .15 threshold or if the suspect has been convicted of DUI prior.

If a person has been convicted of three prior DUI offenses within 10 years, the State can elect to charge the offender with a felony. If someone was injured in the accident or there was a fatality, the offender will also be charged with a felony DUI. DUI Manslaughter, in particular, is a very serious offense in the State of Florida. A person suspect of DUI Manslaughter faces a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 4.15 years up to 30 years.

Brian Kirlew
Heidi Kirlew

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