Types of DUI Cases

The criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients on a wide variety of DUI charges. This article discusses the different types of DUI charges under Florida law and special DUI defenses that might be available.

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Charges for DUI can be classified according to the different types of chemical testing involved, enhanced penalties based on conduct, and enhanced punishments based on the number of prior convictions and when those prior convictions occurred.

Under Florida law, there are more than 15 different ways that a crime involving driving under the influence can be charged.

For a first DUI, you might be eligible for the DUI Diversion Program in Hillsborough County called RIDR. The benefit of completing RIDR is that your DUI will be reduced to reckless driving, and the court will withhold adjudication so that you avoid a conviction and points on your driving record. You might then be eligible to seal the record.

But remember that even if you qualify for diversion, you should still request a formal review hearing so that your attorney can fight to invalidate the administrative suspension. Otherwise, that notation of administrative DUI will remain on your driving record for 75 years (even if the criminal case is sealed).

Different Types of DUI Chemical Testing

After an arrest for DUI, the officer has three options for chemical testing. Depending on the circumstances, the officer can request that the driver submit to one or more of the following tests:

If the driver refuses to submit to chemical testing, then the officer will allege that the driver refused chemical testing, which comes with its own consequences, such as an administrative suspension and formal criminal charges.

Under some circumstances, a refusal to submit to a chemical test (if it occurs after a prior refusal) can be charged as a criminal offense and a first degree misdemeanor.

DUI Penalties Based on the Number of Prior Convictions

Florida law also provides for different minimum mandatory penalties for a DUI conviction depending on the number of prior convictions and when those prior convictions occurred.

  • First DUI (with no prior DUI conviction either in Florida or any other state);
  • Second DUI either within five years or outside five years;
  • Third DUI outside ten years of a prior conviction;
  • Third DUI within ten years of a prior conviction; or

Types of DUI Based on Conduct

Florida law also provides enhanced penalties and punishments if certain conduct is alleged. The types of enhancements based on conduct committed during the DUI include:

  • a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) was over .15;
  • having a minor child under the age of 18 years old as a passenger in the vehicle;
  • being involved in an accident with property damage to another person’s vehicle or property.

Special provisions also apply if the driver is under the age of 21 years old, including a “zero tolerance” policy that sets the legal limit at .02 instead of .08.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles and individuals who hold a CDL license can also be cited for having a BAC even lower than .08. That type of accusation can be a career-ending event for my CDL holders unless they hire a qualified DUI defense attorney to fight the accusation.

Two Alternative Theories for Proving DUI

Florida law provides for two alternative theories for proving DUI offenses under 316.193(1)(a),(b). First, the prosecutor can use the “impairment theory” to prove that the defendant was driving while their normal faculties were impaired. Under the “impairment theory,” Florida law provides two ways to prove impairment:

  • evidence showing impairment of normal faculties; or
  • presumption of impairment for a breath/blood alcohol reading above .08.

Second, the prosecutor can use the “DUBAL theory” to prove that the defendant was driving with a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or higher (“DUBAL”). See Cardenas v. State, 867 So.2d 384 (Fla. 2004).

In Euceda v. State, 711 So.2d 122 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998), the court found that the jury must be unanimous on finding that the defendant committed the offense of DUI, but not whether it was because of impairment or for driving in excess of .08. See also Hughes v. State, 943 So.2d 176 (Fla 3d DCA 2006).

Lawyers for DUI Cases in Hillsborough County, FL

Regardless of the type of DUI cases involved, the criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, are experienced in fighting for the best result. We understand different types of DUI charges under Florida law.

We can help you understand the potential penalties, special defenses, and ways to fight the charges no matter how the DUI charge is filed. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss the case during a free and completely confidential consultation.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 2, 2024.