DUI with property damage is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. Your first offense could result in jail time, fines, and other serious consequences. However, you won’t face these consequences unless you are convicted.
You can protect your rights by understanding the charges against you, your possible defenses, and how an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer can help you. Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer Robert Malove is a founding member of the National College of DUI Defense and is Florida Bar Board Certified as an “expert/specialist” in Criminal Trial Law. He has decades of experience representing people charged with DUI crimes, and he will fight hard for you.
What Is DUI With Property Damage?Florida Statute 316.193(1) and (3)(c) define the three elements the state must prove to convict you of DUI with property damage.
You Were Driving or in Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle
You may be pulled over for drunk driving if you were operating a motor vehicle or had actual physical control of the vehicle. Actual physical control means that you were in the vehicle and had the immediate capacity to operate it. For example, if you are in the driver’s seat and parked in a parking lot, you may have actual physical control of a car for purposes of Florida drunk driving laws.
You Were Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
You may be found to be under the influence in one of three ways. The police may arrest you for drunk driving if: (1) you had alcohol or drugs and your normal faculties are impaired; (2) your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher; or (3) your breath alcohol level is 0.08 or higher.
You Caused Property Damage
The state must prove that you directly or indirectly caused damage to someone else’s property. The property may be anything, including but not limited to cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and real estate.
Legal Penalties for DUI With Property Damage in FloridaYour first conviction for DUI with property damage could result in:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to one year of reporting probation
- At least six months of a revoked driver’s license
- A fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000
- Vehicle impoundment
- Community service hours
- A requirement to complete a DUI substance abuse course
- An evaluation to determine if substance abuse treatment should be required by the court
- Substance abuse treatment
You may face more significant penalties if your blood alcohol content was .15 or higher or if there was a minor in your vehicle at the time you were driving under the influence of alcohol. In these cases, your minimum fine becomes $1,000 and your maximum fine becomes $2,000. Additionally, the court may order an ignition interlock device on all vehicles you own or use for six months to one year.
Potential Defenses to DUI With Property Damage Charges
Every case is unique. Attorney Robert Malove will review the evidence and explore all possible DUI defenses, some of which are described below.
Improper or Illegal Traffic Stop
In Florida, a police officer may only pull you over if the officer has reasonable suspicion that you are committing a traffic infraction or probable cause that you committed a crime. If neither of those things are true, then the traffic stop may have been illegal and the case against you may be dismissed.
Mistakes With Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety test results are not always reliable. A skilled and experienced DUI defense lawyer will thoroughly review all of your field sobriety test results to determine if any of them are inadmissible.
Lack of Property Damage
The prosecution must prove that you caused the property damage. If the damage was there before the accident or happened after the crash, then you should not be charged with a DUI with property damage. However, you may still face other DUI charges.