Florida Penalties for DUI First Conviction:
- Fine – $250-500
- Community Service – 50 hours
- Probation – Not more than 1 year
- Imprisonment – Not more than 6 months
- Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
- License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
- DUI School – 12 Hours
The term “mouth alcohol” refers to the presence alcohol in the mouth. A breath test result will show higher than normal results if the suspect has mouth alcohol. The breathalyzer uses a complex formula that takes the amount of alcohol and multiplies it by 2100 to get its results. The machine assumes the breath starts from the lungs. Factors such as these can create discrepancies is test results.
There are other potential reasons for having mouth alcohol:
- Breath fresheners do have trace amounts of alcohol. Products such as Listerine and Binaca contain small levels of alcohol and can certainly affect breath test results. Cough medicines such as NyQuil also contain alcohol and can affect test results the same way.
- Bodily functions such as hiccups, burps, or even vomit can also affect the test results. Actions such as these bring the vapors of alcohol from the stomach back up to the mouth.
- A hiatal hernia can also cause elevated test results.
- Dental caps and bridges can capture alcohol in a crevice and be blown out by a breath.
- If the suspect has a chronic reflux condition, alcohol can travel up from gastric distress.
The ideal method to measure a qualified DUI attorney is through their reputation. While the top level known attorneys are quite expensive, there are ways you can also find locally, more affordable, known attorneys to represent you. The best method is found simply through asking lawyers in the local area who they believe are the most qualified in DUI defense. You can also visit courthouses ask clerks, bailiffs, and public defenders the same question: Which DUI attorney would they recommend?
The charges involved in drunken driving are a complex subject and can be difficult to follow. The penalties are becoming gradually more severe and dealing with a case includes a range of administrative license, sentencing, evidentiary, constitutional, and procedural affairs.
A general attorney will have little to offer or possibly even hurt your case because they are generally unqualified or inexperienced for such a particular field. Comparing a general attorney to a DUI defense attorney is much like comparing a family practitioner to a brain surgeon. A qualified DUI lawyer can do several things to help improve your situation. A DUI attorney knows many of the particulars involved and can request measurements and maintenance records of the breath machine and have blood samples reanalyzed. They can also challenge evidence, look for possible flaws in the case, negotiate reduced penalties and sentences, contest the administrative license suspension, or obtain expert witnesses for the case. An experienced DUI attorney can be very beneficial to you with your case.
The traditional charge is known by a one of these terms:
- DUI – driving under the influence
- OWI – operating while intoxicated
- DWI – driving while intoxicated
This test is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Nystagmus is the medical term that describes a particular eye oscillation. The steadiness of the eyes while following the pen and the degree at which the eyes begin to move erratically indicate the level of alcohol in the blood of the suspect. The police officer attempts to determine if the angle of the eyes are less than 45 degrees. An angle of less than 45 generally indicates a blood-alcohol level of .05% or greater. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is still fairly new and has not been accepted for use in many states. Many medical professionals don not consider this test to be credible. It is also possible that some police officers performing this test are not qualified to administer the test. The untrained officer may not be able to negotiate the proper angle and hence misjudge nystagmus.
The police officer has several test options available. The most common are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
- Heel-to-toe walk
- Reciting of the alphabet
- Hand pat
- Modified position of attention (the Rhomberg test)
The officer has most likely already made his judgment and decision of arrest before requesting a field sobriety test. When the suspect fails it is only validation for the officer and serves as additional evidence. Unlike the chemical tests, refusing to take a FST should not have any legal penalties. Politely declining the FST could be a valid option for the suspect to take. Studies funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that only three of these test are reliable in determining if a driver is intoxicated: Heel-to-toe, one-leg-stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These three tests use numerical scores which are specific to the suspect’s actions. The study also concluded that the other FSTs are unreliable and should be discouraged from being used.
Police officers are trained to looks for specific signs:
- A flushed, or red, face
- Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
- Alcohol breath
- Incoherent or slurred speech
- Struggling to retrieve their license from a wallet
- Inability to comprehend the officer’s questions
- Difficulty when exiting the vehicle
- Unable to stay balanced while standing
- Using the vehicle for stand support
- Aggressive or other inappropriate attitude
- Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
- Inability to keep balance while walking
- No knowledge of time or current location
- Inability to comprehend and/or follow directions
There is no right to an attorney until the individual is given the opportunity to take a breath blood test, or refusal of taking a chemical test.
By law, an individual is not required to answer any questions that could incriminate them. An individual is allowed to ask to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. If you do state that you have been drinking, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position.
The following list, from most likely sign to least likely sign, is the possible signs of a drunken driver. (This list was developed by the National Highway Traffic Administration)
- Negotiating a wide turn
- Straddling along the central marker between the lanes
- Appearing to be Drunk
- Near misses or hitting either another vehicle or an object
- Weaving between lanes
- Driving off of designated highway
- Swerving within the lane lines
- Speeding over 10 mph above the designated speed limit
- Questionable stops in traffic lanes
- Driving over center marker between lanes
- Excessive braking
- Driving against traffic
- Questionable signaling
- Delayed reaction to traffic signals
- Inappropriate stopping or slowing
- Illegal or unwarranted turns
- Accelerating or slowing down quickly
- Driving without headlights on
It should be noted that excessive speeding is not a major symptom. Speeding requires quick reflexes and strong judgment, traits that are usually typical of a sober individual.