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Sentence Enhancements for DUI in Florida

Sentence enhancements are additional factors that a Judge or Prosecutor considers in regards to a persons sentence and/or case. These additional factors are most commonly; the speed of driver’s vehicle at the time of arrest, whether there was any children in the car at the time of the arrest, the level of blood alcohol concentration (higher sentence if higher blood alcohol concentration), whether the vehicle being driven at the time of the arrest is a commercial vehicle, whether the driver of the car at the time of the arrest is a minor, whether the driver refused a chemical breath test and/or whether the driver has a prior conviction(s) for a DUI, DWI or OWI. If the driver tests with a BAC above .20 or at the time of the arrest has a minor in the car then the sentence for that driver will in all likelihood be severely increased. The first time a driver refuses to take a test (whether it is the field sobriety test or the chemical test) there is a mandated one-year license suspension instated for the driver. A second offense of this nature will bring a license suspension of 18 months. Penalties for this offense are not limited to the previously stated. The first time a driver is arrested with a BAC of .20 or higher, a fine of at least $500 and a jail sentence not more than nine months is mandated. If the driver arrested for DUI has a prior arrest for a DUI which was un-counseled, then the second arrest could possibly be used to enhance the penalty to a felony. This may the case because in the first case the defendant did not serve the normal six-month jail sentence as is usually the case for a DUI arrest. So in essence, if a defendant files a plea bargain to get the sentence reduced in his or her first DUI arrest, the arrest would still go on the defendant’s record and would enhance all future arrests up to what the normal penalty would be for a second DUI arrest with a first DUI offense on the record. Also, arrests in other states may be used to enhance a DUI charge up to a felony in the state of Florida. In essence, any second offense brings a penalty of jail time with a minimum of 10 days and a fine with a minimum of $500. For any offense that exceeds a first offense an ignition interlock device is placed on the driver’s vehicle and the vehicle is impounded or forfeited. If the child in the car at the time of the arrest is the driver’s child, the driver may run into problems related to custody/ child care in addition to enhancement law. A minor in the car will always bring about the same penalty that is brought when the driver’s sentence is enhanced for an abnormally high BAC content. If the motor vehicle is commercial in nature, a first offense will bring a one-year suspension of that driver’s commercial driver’s license.  A second offense will bring a permanent suspension of that individual’s driver’s license. Refusal to submit to a breath, urine or blood test is admissible as evidence in DUI criminal cases. The second refusal by a person is a misdemeanor of the first degree. After the first refusal by a person of a breath, urine or blood test, that person gets his or her license suspended for a period of one year. If that person refuses a second time (in a separate incident) then he or she shall have his or her license suspended for an 18-month period.

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