DUI, driving under the influence, is a serious offense and the penalties for conviction can be severe, especially if an accident occurred. If you have been involved in an accident and have been drinking you may be charged with DUI. In Florida, as in most states, the legal drinking limit is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% for adults over the age of 21. If an accident occurs while you are found to be DUI, the penalties are more severe. The first thing to do, as with any accident, is to seek medical attention if anyone is hurt. It is also a requirement to file an accident report for any accident that occurs.

DUI Tests

If the police officer feels that you may have been drinking he may ask you to take some field sobriety tests. There are a number of field sobriety tests that can be done including such tests as walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, and standing on one foot. These tests are done as a preliminary way to determine if you may have been drinking. If the officer requests, you must submit to a DUI test that may be:

  • Breathalyzer
  • Blood
  • Urine

If you have been transported to the hospital as the result of the accident, the police may request the hospital to perform a DUI test. These tests measure the percentage of alcohol in the blood. Taking the test either too soon after drinking or too long after drinking may impact the results. Florida has an implied consent law – you must comply with DUI tests if requested to do so by law enforcement. Failure to comply could result in additional charges and penalties.

Hearings and Trial

The first hearing or arraignment is done soon after your arrest. This is the time when the charges will be formally made against you and if you’re being held in jail, bail will be set. DUI charges are criminal but have a negative effect on your driver’s license. At the time of your arrest, your license will be temporarily suspended until the case is resolved at trial. You may request a hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This must be done within 10 days of your initial arrest. It is helpful to have your attorney request the hearing and represent you. The purpose of the hearing is to retain driving privileges until your case is resolved. Failure to request a hearing forfeits your right to it.

Defending a DUI Case

Retain an experienced attorney to defend your case in court. Sometimes the DUI tests may not have been given properly or the machine used to administer the test may not have been working properly. These types of problems can be used in your favor to defend your case. If there were any witnesses to the accident it is helpful to get their names and contact information so your attorney can speak to them. It is important that you do not make any statements to police until you have contacted an attorney. Even simple statements such as “I’m sorry” could end up hurting your case later on. When it comes to DUI cases, every situation is different. An experienced lawyer will be able to review what occurred and assist you with a defense that provides the best possible results.