What You Need to Know About a Florida DUI

Have you been arrested for DUI (driving under the influence) in Tampa, Florida? If so, we have compiled a list of the top things that you need to know about a Florida DUI. If you have further questions, we encourage you to contact our firm for help!

1. Don’t incriminate yourself. When the officer asks how much you had to drink during the traffic stop, you need to watch what you say. If you say, “A couple of beers,” but you really had ten drinks, this will haunt you in court once the chemical test reveals that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was well over the legal limit of .08%.

The BAC test results will make it obvious that you were lying and you’ll lose your credibility in court. It’s better to say that you’re not sure how much you had to drink, or exercise your right to remain silent.

2. Most first DUIs are misdemeanors. Usually, a first or second DUI offense is a misdemeanor. However, even a first DUI can be a felony when the incident involves a hit-and-run, severe property damage, or if someone else suffers serious injuries or death.

3. Many people do not qualify for a public defender. Not everyone qualifies for a public defender. You have to meet the state’s eligibility requirements to qualify, which means you must have very low income and assets.

In Florida, there is a presumption that an applicant is not indigent if he or she owns, or has equity in any intangible or tangible real estate or personal property with a net equity value of $2,500 or more, with certain exclusions.

4. You could lose your job because of a DUI. In some professions, particularly those involving a position of trust (e.g. doctors, teachers, police officers, CPAs, notaries, and real estate agents) a DUI can lead to job loss, the loss of a professional license, and the end of a career, especially for people who drive for a living.

Florida is an employment-at-will jurisdiction, which means that an employer can terminate its employee for any reason, with the exception of discrimination or retaliation. If an employer thinks that your DUI is bad for business, they are within their rights to let you go.

5. A DUI conviction could impact your child custody case. Child custody cases boil down to one thing: The best interests of the child. Can a recent DUI have an impact on a child custody case? Yes, absolutely, especially if it’s a drug-related DUI, or a second or subsequent offense.

Family law judges have broad discretion in child custody cases. If it’s very close, a recent DUI can tip the scales in the other parent’s favor.

6. A DUI can damage your credit. If you have enough money stashed away, your credit may not be affected by a DUI at all. On the other hand, if you have to rely on credit cards to pay your fines, the costs of an Ignition Interlock Device, DUI school fees, and so on, the hefty credit card balances could affect your credit utilization ratio, and your FICO score.

Additionally, if you fail to pay a court-ordered fine, it could go to collections and be reported on your credit for the next seven years.

Contact Thomas & Paulk to schedule a free case evaluation with a hard-hitting Tampa DUI lawyer!