If you were arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, you might think that the worst thing that can happen is a few months in jail. Unfortunately, the potential punishments for driving under the influence in Florida can vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case.
Before you enter a plea, you need to know which factors can result in enhanced DUI charges and how to refute the accusations against you.
Aggravating Factors That Can Lead to an Enhanced DUI Charge
Even if you’re a first-time offender with no history of drunk driving or a criminal record, you can face enhanced penalties under state law. In Florida, you can be charged with an enhanced DUI if your actions or the incident that led to your arrest had certain aggravating factors, including:
- Excessive blood alcohol level. In all 50 states, a driver can be charged with DUI if they have a BAC of 0.08 or more. However, states can assess additional penalties if a driver’s BAC is excessively high. If there is evidence in your case that your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher—or twice the legal limit—you will face enhanced penalties upon conviction.
- Minors in the car. Florida Statute 316.193 allows a driver to be charged with enhanced DUI penalties if they were drunk and accompanied in the vehicle by a minor. It’s worth noting that the child doesn’t need to be harmed or have been involved in an accident at the time of your arrest. If you were pulled over with at least a .08 BAC and there was a person under 18 in the car, prosecutors can call for enhanced penalties.
- Multiple DUIs. Your prior convictions for driving under the influence can be used to issue enhanced penalties. If you are charged with DUI within five years of a previous conviction, you will likely face a mandatory jail sentence upon conviction. If you have four or more DUIs in a 10-year period, the charge against you can be upgraded to a third-degree felony.
- Accidents that cause property damage or injuries. If you caused an accident while driving drunk, the charges might be upgraded if you caused bodily harm, significant property damage, or someone else’s death.
Penalties for an Enhanced DUI in Fort Lauderdale
An enhanced DUI carries significant penalties, even for a first offense. Here are some of the most common consequences of an enhanced conviction compared to a non-enhanced DUI:
- Up to 9 months in jail (6 months for standard DUI)
- A fine of up to $2,000 (double the standard DUI)
- Potential revocation of your driver’s license for the rest of your life (versus a minimum of 180 days minimum for a standard DUI)
- Impoundment of your vehicle for 90 days (versus ten days)
- A maximum jail term of one year for a second conviction (versus nine months)
- Higher likelihood of being ordered into a residential treatment program and longer requirements for ignition interlock devices
- Higher costs in compensating victims for property damage or personal injury losses
In Fort Lauderdale, if the DUI is upgraded to a felony charge, defendants face a maximum of five years in jail and legal fines of up to $5,000. With so much at stake, it’s vital that you contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney to speak on your behalf and fight for the best possible outcome.
It Costs Nothing to Consult a Florida DUI Defense Attorney!
Board-certified criminal trial attorney Robert David Malove offers affordable payment plans to clients and free consultations so you can learn precisely where you stand. Contact us online or call us today at 954-861-0384 for a free assessment of your case.