Florida DUI FAQs: A Legal Expert's Answers
UPDATED: June 14, 2012
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Florida's DUI (driving while under the influence) laws are complex. To provide answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs), we contacted William D. Umansky, a Florida attorney with over 15 years of experience whose practice focuses in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense.
Q: What happens when you refuse a breath test in Florida?
A: In Florida, it's a crime if you refuse to take a breath test twice. So, you can get arrested for a second crime along with the DUI if you refuse to take the breath test and you refused to take one in the past. Driver's license suspension periods for first refusals are one year; second or subsequent refusals are 18 months. If you have a commercial driver's license, your first refusal means that you can't drive for one year. If you have a second refusal in a commercial motor vehicle, you are not allowed to have a commercial driver's license anymore.
Q: Is community service mandatory for a DUI conviction in Florida?
A: Community service is not mandatory except on a first conviction and you have to do 50 hours at a minimum if you are convicted. It's interesting because the state does not have mandatory community service beyond a first DUI, but often times, community service is requested on subsequent DUIs. However, it is at the option of the prosecutor and is not mandatory.
Q: When must you enroll in Florida DUI school?
A: You must enroll in, and sometimes complete, DUI school before you get a hardship license. If you have a second conviction in five years or a third conviction in ten years, you must complete DUI school following your conviction. Usually, first offenders will enroll in a DUI school that's 12 hours, unless they had a prior DUI, then it's 24 hours of school. In both situations, a psychosocial evaluation will be used to determine whether you have a drug or alcohol problem. If you do, treatment can last six weeks or up to a year in many cases.
Q: Does Florida recognize mandatory adjudications?
A: There are mandatory adjudications for DUI in Florida and judges are prohibited from withholding adjudication. So, if you plead to a DUI, you must be convicted and the judge is also prohibited from reducing a DUI charge to a lesser DUI if your blood alcohol level was .15 or greater. The prosecutor can reduce it and in many cases if you hire a lawyer that can negotiate with the state, the state will reduce it to under a .15 to resolve the case, thereby saving you money and enhanced penalties in many cases.
If you have a DUI issue, contact an experienced DUI attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.