What You Need to Know About a Tampa DUI

Were you recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tampa, or anywhere else in Hillsborough County? If so, you probably have a lot of questions about the consequences of a DUI conviction, and that is completely understandable! In order to shed light on the subject, we are going to discuss what you need to know about a Florida DUI. If you have further questions, feel free to contact our firm for a free consultation.

1. You can get a DUI with a BAL under .08%.
Most Florida drivers are aware that they can get a DUI if they are caught driving with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08% or more under Florida’s DUI laws. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that under Section 316.193(a), a person can also get a DUI if they drive under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drugs and their normal faculties are impaired. This means, it is possible to get a DUI, even if you are below the .08% legal limit.

2. You can get a DUI without driving.
Under Section 316.193(2), you can get a DUI if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a chemical substance and you are under “actual physical control” of a vehicle within the state of Florida. Meaning, if you’re in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, you can still get a DUI.

What does “actual physical control” mean? It means that you were in control of the vehicle. For instance, if you climbed into your car on a cool December night after leaving a bar, put the keys in the ignition so you could run the heater as you slept and sobered up, you could be arrested for DUI because you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle while legally intoxicated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter that you had no intention of driving anywhere.

In the future, if you decide to sleep in your car after enjoying several drinks, it’s better not to sit in the front seat. If you have to sleep in your car, it’s better to lay in the backseat and to not have the keys anywhere near the ignition, let alone the front of the car!

3. Blood and breath tests are not the same.
People are often confused by blood and breath tests. Are they the same? Should you choose one over the other? If you are arrested for DUI and asked to submit to a chemical test (blood or breath), you will be given the opportunity to choose between the two types of tests.

If you’ve had little to nothing to drink and you’re confident that your BAL is well below the .08% limit, we recommend a blood test because they are more accurate than breath tests. On the other hand, if your BAL may be at or above the legal limit, you should choose the breath test over the blood test because these are more susceptible to error and thus are easier to challenge.

4. If you refuse a chemical test, your license will be suspended.
Like other states, Florida has enacted an implied consent law, which means that once you receive a Florida license, you agree to consent to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) when a law enforcement officer asks you to take one because they suspect you’re driving under the influence.

If you are asked to take a chemical test during a DUI stop and you refuse, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended, even if you had nothing to drink. On a first refusal, your license will be automatically suspended for one year. For a second or subsequent refusal, the suspension period is 18 months.

In Florida, if your license has been previously suspended for refusing a chemical test, you commit a misdemeanor offense under Section 316.1939 of the Florida Statutes.

We are only scratching the surface in regards to a Florida DUI. To learn more about the consequences of a conviction, contact the Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A.