DUI: Female Police Officer


Contact DUI Attorneys Tania Alavi & Andrew Pozzuto to answer your questions about your DUI arrest. We will patiently listen to the facts and explain your legal options and possible defense strategies. Here are a few questions clients often ask about DUI penalties and driver license suspensions. Click here for more on penalties.


What is D.U.I. and Drunk Driving?

DUI. is an abbreviation for “Driving Under the Influence.” Florida Statutes 316.193 describes: A person can be convicted if such person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and the person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substance when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired, or when the person has a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. “Drunk Driving” is a common misnomer for the crime of driving under the influence. While all individuals who drive while drunk are DUI, you do not need to be drunk to be considered under the influence.

Can the Police take away my license if I am arrested for DUI?

Under Florida law, a law enforcement officer may seize the driver’s license of any person who is driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above, or who has refused to submit to a breath, blood or urine test. The officer will seize the individual’s driver’s license and issue the driver a traffic ticket which also acts as a 10-day temporary work permit.

If the Officer takes away my license, for how long is it suspended?

If you have refused to submit to a lawful breath, blood or urine test, your driving privilege will be suspended for a period of 1 year for a first refusal, or for a period of 18 months if your license has previously been suspended as a result of a refusal to submit to such a test. If you have an unlawful blood alcohol level (that is, 0.08% or above), your driving privilege will be suspended for a period of 6 months for a first offense, or for a period of 1 year if your driving privilege has been previously suspended. All such suspensions are effective as of the date of the arrest.

Why can my license be suspended before I even go to trial? Can I challenge the suspension?

While Florida law provides certain safeguards before an individual may be sentenced, in Florida, driving is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, the State of Florida may withdraw that privilege if there are lawful grounds to do so. However, you have 10 days from the date your license was seized or suspended to request a Formal Review Hearing before the Bureau of Administrative Review where you can challenge the legality of your license being suspended.

Is it unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher?

Yes. It is a crime to drive with an unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above.

Are you presumed guilty if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher?

In any criminal case, it is unconstitutional to hold a presumption of guilt against a defendant. This is due to the fact that our constitution requires the government to prove its case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. However, in Florida, the fact that you had 0.08% or more alcohol in your blood is evidence enough that you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired.

May I refuse to take a Breath, Blood, or Urine test if requested?

According to Florida law, by accepting the privilege of operating a motor vehicle, you have consented to submit to a breath test for the purposes of determining the alcoholic content of your blood, and to a urine test for the purposes of detecting the presence of drugs, if lawfully arrested for DUI. You may refuse to take such tests unless you are involved in an accident involving serious bodily injury or death. However, refusing such tests is not without cost. The law permits the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to suspend your privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 1 year for a first refusal or 18 months for a second or subsequent refusal. Additionally, the refusal to submit to a breath or urine test, upon the request of a law enforcement officer, is admissible in any criminal proceeding against you. Also, if you have previously refused to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, a second or subsequent refusal to submit to such testing is a misdemeanor offense. Florida Statute 316.1932.

What does “In Actual Physical Control” mean?

This means that the individual has had the capability and power to dominate, direct or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether or not he or she was exercising that capability or power at the time of the alleged offense. In other words, sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition may qualify as being “in actual physical control” of a vehicle even though the vehicle is not moving.

What are the minimum penalties for a first time DUI?

If you are convicted in Florida, you will be Adjudicated Guilty, meaning you will have a permanent criminal record. You will be placed on one year of supervised probation, fined at least $500, ordered to complete 50 hours of community service, your vehicle will be impounded for 10 days, you will be required to complete an approved Level 1 DUI School, be evaluated for any substance abuse problems, and undergo any recommended treatment. Additionally, judges will likely order the completion of a Victims Awareness Class or Victims Impact Panel course. See DUI Penalties for more information.

I blew over the legal limit, can I possibly beat the DUI?

Absolutely! The machines used by law enforcement are tightly regulated and subject to strict maintenance requirements to be deemed reliable. Additionally, the testing itself must be done in a very specific manner. The failure to either properly maintain the machines, or to conduct the tests in accordance with the standard testing procedures, may result in the breath test being thrown out altogether, no matter how high your test results were.

If I have the right to remain silent and not incriminate myself, then why would the jury hear I refused the field sobriety tests or the breath test?

Although, the answer to this question depends on the specific facts of your case, generally, courts have held that the fact that the driver refused does not usually elicit a Fifth Amendment violation of the privilege against self-incrimination because the refusal because it is not testimony and it is relevant to the driver’s consciousness of guilt. Therefore, the prosecutor can usually introduce this evidence. Florida criminal law provides that when a law enforcement officer has sufficient legal cause to believe that a driver is driving under the influence, the officer can ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests and/or breath, blood or urine tests. This means the prosecutor can argue that the driver’s refusal proves the driver knew that if he or she submitted to the test, then the test results would show that the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.


Every DUI case is different. Your story and specific circumstances are different. Florida DUI charges present complex legal and scientific issues. A DUI conviction will affect you now and will remain on your criminal history. If you have questions about DUI law, defenses, or your rights, we will answer them. CALL (352) 732-9191 OR EMAIL DUI LAWYERS TANIA ALAVI & ANDREW POZZUTO TO TODAY.