It is no surprise that fatal accidents involving impaired motorists tend to increase throughout the U.S. during the holiday season. That is why law enforcement agencies and highway patrol amp up their efforts during this time with the hopes of nabbing any drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol before a tragedy can occur.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 1,100 people lost their lives in traffic collisions where drugs and alcohol were involved in 2011, and thousands more suffered some type of injury.
Because DUIs are so prevalent in Florida, it is important to review the actual numbers in order to increase awareness. The following was compiled by the Florida DMV:
• 33,625 DUI convictions throughout the state of Florida were recorded in 2011
• A whopping total of 55,722 DUI tickets were issued statewide in 2011; The
Florida Highway Patrol issued 9,328 DUI tickets, local law enforcement agencies issues the remaining
• In Hillsborough County alone, there were 3,256 DUI convictions in 2010
It is important to realize that not everyone arrested for DUI is drunk or even impaired. You can be arrested for DUI as long as the police officer suspects that you are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In general, officers look for any signs of impairment when they stop a driver on suspicion of DUI. These signs can include a flushed face, watery or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol.
Being charged with a DUI is a serious matter. Even if you are a first time offender, the penalties are quite severe, and usually mandatory. This means that if you are found guilty, there is no way to avoid the consequences. So, what are the penalties for a first offense?
• Jail Time – Up to 6 months
• Probation – Up to 1 year
• Fine between $250 and $500
• Community Service – 50 Hours
• Suspended License – Minimum of 180 days
• DUI School
While it is always best to avoid drink and driving altogether, it is important to realize that drinking and driving is not actually a crime. It is only a crime to be impaired while behind the wheel, and the legal limit in the state of Florida and throughout the U.S. is .08. Despite this fact, most police officers will arrest you if they detect the smell of alcohol on your breath.
A Tampa DUI Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help you challenge your DUI and make sure you understand all of the legal options available to you. If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI in the Tampa Bay area or anywhere else in the state of Florida, contact us today online or call our Hillsborough County office at 813-221-3200 for a complimentary consultation. Remember, even if this is your first DUI offense, there is a lot at stake. Do not delay, call us statewide and toll free at 866-608-5529.