The Fourth of July is approaching, and this means many in Pensacola will enjoy a drink or two as they spend the day at the beach or at a friend’s backyard barbecue. Summer fun can turn into summer disaster, however, if on the way home from the festivities you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. When this happens it is important to have a basic understanding of Florida’s drunk driving laws.
Two types of drunk driving offenses
Two types of drunk driving offenses that adults of legal drinking age in Florida may be accused of are DUI and DUI per se. DUI per se is what most of us think of when we think of drunk driving. If a breath test or blood test shows you are driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, you may be arrested and charged with DUI “per se.” This means the chemical test alone is sufficient to prove you were driving under the influence. If convicted you could face fines, imprisonment, the loss of your driver’s license and possibly be required to use an ignition interlock device.
However, did you know you can be arrested and charged with DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit? In Florida you can be charged with DUI if your normal faculties are impaired even if a chemical test shows their BAC is below 0.08%. Police often rely on evidence such as observations and field sobriety tests to determine if you are too impaired to drive.
What are some common signs of impairment?
The signs that you have been impaired are recognizable even if your BAC is below the legal limit. If your BAC is 0.08% you may lose your balance, slur your speech and have a slowed reaction time. It could also be harder to process information and you may experience short-term memory loss.
Even if your BAC is 0.05% there are still signs that you are impaired. A person with a BAC of 0.05% may exaggerate their behavior, have trouble focusing their eyes, be less alert and have a reduced reaction to emergency situations. Police may claim that based on these observations you are too impaired to drive.
Learn more about DUI in Florida
A DUI can certainly put a damper on your Independence Day celebrations and unfortunately can have long-term effects that affect you for weeks, months or even years to come. This post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on DUI may be a good starting point for those who want to learn more about their rights.