Can You Get Arrested for DUI While Under BAC of 0.08% in Florida? (2024)

Driving under the influence (DUI) laws in Florida are designed to maintain public safety by deterring impaired driving. While many people understand that a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher can lead to a DUI arrest, fewer are aware that it is possible to be arrested for DUI even if your BAC is below 0.08%. This article explores the relevant statutes, potential penalties, defenses, and frequently asked questions related to this complex issue.

Relevant Florida DUI Statutes

Florida’s DUI laws are primarily governed by Florida Statutes § 316.193. This statute makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, chemicals, or controlled substances if your normal faculties are impaired. While the statute specifies that a BAC of 0.08% or higher is presumptive evidence of impairment, it does not preclude arrest or conviction for lower BAC levels if the driver’s normal faculties are deemed impaired.

Florida Statutes § 316.1934 provides the legal presumptions regarding BAC levels. It outlines that a BAC of 0.08% or higher indicates impairment, a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08% is inconclusive but can be considered alongside other evidence, and a BAC below 0.05% typically indicates no impairment. However, the statute also states that impairment can be demonstrated through other evidence, regardless of BAC levels.

The term "normal faculties" includes the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and perform general mental and physical functions. Thus, if law enforcement observes signs of impairment, such as erratic driving, slurred speech, or failed field sobriety tests, a DUI arrest can still occur even with a BAC below 0.08%.

Potential Punishments and Consequences if Convicted

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida are severe and can have long-lasting impacts on various aspects of your life, including your driving privileges, employment opportunities, and personal freedom.

Fines for a DUI conviction vary depending on the number of offenses and the presence of aggravating factors. For a first-time offense, fines range from $500 to $1,000. If there are aggravating factors such as a minor in the vehicle or a BAC of 0.15% or higher, fines increase to between $1,000 and $2,000. Subsequent offenses carry higher fines, with second offenses ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, or $2,000 to $4,000 if aggravating factors are present. Third offenses within ten years are considered felonies, with fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 or more if aggravating factors apply.

Jail time is another potential punishment for DUI convictions. A first DUI offense can result in up to six months in jail, or up to nine months if aggravating factors are present. Second offenses can lead to up to nine months in jail, or up to twelve months with aggravating factors. Third and subsequent offenses can result in longer jail terms, with a third DUI within ten years being punishable by up to five years in prison.

Probation is commonly imposed alongside or in place of jail time. Probation periods can last up to one year for a first offense and typically include conditions such as attending DUI school, performing community service, and participating in substance abuse treatment programs. Failing to comply with probation terms can result in additional penalties, including imprisonment.

A DUI conviction results in a permanent criminal record, which can significantly impact your life. It can affect employment opportunities, professional licensing, and personal relationships. Additionally, a DUI conviction can lead to increased insurance premiums and difficulty obtaining car insurance.

License suspension is a direct consequence of a DUI conviction. A first DUI offense results in a license suspension of 180 days to one year. Second offenses within five years lead to a minimum five-year revocation, while third offenses within ten years result in a minimum ten-year revocation. You may be eligible for a hardship license under certain conditions, which allows limited driving for work or educational purposes.

Other potential consequences include the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. An IID prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected on your breath. This requirement is mandatory for certain DUI convictions, particularly those involving high BAC levels or repeat offenses.

Common Defenses Against a DUI Charge

Defending against a DUI charge in Florida, particularly when the BAC is below 0.08%, requires a thorough understanding of the legal principles and potential defenses available. Each case is unique, and the specifics of your situation will determine the best defense strategy.

One common defense is to challenge the legality of the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle and probable cause to make an arrest. If it can be shown that the stop was unlawful or that the officer lacked probable cause, any evidence obtained as a result, including BAC test results, may be inadmissible in court.

Challenging the accuracy and administration of breathalyzer or other chemical tests is another defense strategy. These tests must be properly maintained and calibrated, and any failure to follow protocols can cast doubt on their accuracy. Additionally, medical conditions or certain medications can affect BAC readings, providing another avenue for defense.

In some cases, you may argue that you were not impaired at the time of the alleged offense. This defense involves presenting evidence that your normal faculties were not impaired, despite the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system. Witness testimony and expert analysis can support this defense.

Another potential defense is to argue that you were not in actual physical control of the vehicle. This can be particularly relevant if you were not driving at the time of the arrest. For example, if you were sitting in a parked car with the engine off and the keys out of the ignition, it may be possible to argue that you were not in control of the vehicle.

A medical necessity defense can be used if you can prove that you were driving under the influence due to a medical emergency. This defense requires presenting evidence that you had no choice but to drive due to an urgent medical condition.

Relevant DUI FAQs

Can I be arrested for DUI with a BAC below 0.08% in Florida?

Yes, you can be arrested for DUI in Florida even if your BAC is below 0.08%. Florida law allows for DUI arrests based on impairment, regardless of BAC levels. If law enforcement observes signs of impairment, such as erratic driving, slurred speech, or failed field sobriety tests, you can be arrested and charged with DUI.

What evidence do police use to determine impairment if BAC is below 0.08%?

If your BAC is below 0.08%, law enforcement will rely on other evidence to determine impairment. This includes observations of your behavior, physical appearance, performance on field sobriety tests, and any admissions of alcohol or drug use. Video recordings from the police vehicle or body cameras can also be used as evidence.

How can a DUI conviction with a BAC below 0.08% affect my record?

A DUI conviction, regardless of BAC level, will result in a permanent criminal record. This can impact your employment opportunities, professional licenses, and personal relationships. It can also lead to increased insurance premiums and difficulty obtaining car insurance. The presence of a DUI on your record can have long-lasting consequences.

Can I get my DUI charge reduced or dismissed if my BAC was below 0.08%?

It is possible to get a DUI charge reduced or dismissed if your BAC was below 0.08%, but this depends on the specifics of your case. An experienced DUI attorney can evaluate the evidence, identify weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and develop a defense strategy to seek a reduction or dismissal of charges.

What should I do if I am arrested for DUI with a BAC below 0.08%?

If you are arrested for DUI with a BAC below 0.08%, it is important to remain calm and cooperate with law enforcement. You should contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and explore your legal options. An attorney can provide guidance on how to proceed and work to protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Importance of Legal Representation

Facing DUI charges in Florida is a serious matter that requires expert legal representation. Here are several reasons why defendants need an attorney and why Musca Law, P.A. is the right choice.

An experienced attorney understands the complexities of DUI law and can provide invaluable guidance and defense strategies. They are familiar with the nuances of Florida’s DUI statutes and know how to effectively challenge the prosecution's case.

Attorneys can develop comprehensive defense plans tailored to the specifics of each case. This includes gathering evidence, identifying weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and preparing persuasive arguments for court.

Effective negotiation can significantly impact the outcome of a DUI case. Experienced attorneys can negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or lighter sentences, potentially avoiding the severe penalties associated with a DUI conviction.

An attorney ensures that your constitutional rights are protected throughout the legal process. This includes challenging unlawful stops, searches, and seizures, as well as ensuring due process is followed.

Musca Law, P.A. has a team of attorneys with a proven track record of success in handling DUI cases. Their extensive experience and dedication to achieving favorable outcomes for clients demonstrate their commitment to providing top-notch legal representation.

Musca Law, P.A. offers full legal support, representing clients at all stages of the criminal justice process. They are available around the clock to address any legal concerns and provide the guidance needed to navigate the complexities of a DUI case.

Call Musca Law 24/7 For Your FREE Consultation

If you are facing a DUI charge in Florida, it is crucial to act quickly and seek the assistance of a skilled attorney. Musca Law, P.A. offers experienced Florida DUI defense attorneys with a proven record of success. We provide free consultations 24/7/365 at 1-888-484-5057 and serve all 67 counties in Florida. Protect your rights and future by contacting Musca Law, P.A. today for expert legal representation.

Can You Get Arrested for DUI While Under BAC of 0.08% in Florida? (2024)

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