Florida DUI vs. DWI

In Florida, driving while impaired (DWI) with alcohol or other substances is called driving under the influence or DUI. The penalties can vary based on prior DUI convictions so protect yourself by hiring the criminal defense attorneys at O’Mara Law Group to represent you in your DUI case.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: September 26, 2023

DUI. DWI. OUI. OWI. These are a few acronyms that refer to driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What is the difference between the terms?

DUI vs. DWI in Florida

DUI is an abbreviation for “Driving Under the Influence.” DWI is an abbreviation for “Driving While Impaired” or “Driving While Intoxicated.” Other states use the terms OWI (“Operating While Intoxicated”) and OUI (“Operating Under the Influence”). New York also uses the term DWAI, meaning “Driving While Ability Impaired.” Ultimately, these terms all relate to the offense of operating a motor vehicle on a public way while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances. And each state has a law that defines the terminology used and the crimes of driving under the influence.

In Florida, the statute prohibiting driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or other substances refers to the offense as “Driving Under the Influence” or DUI.

Regardless of what acronym you use, you need to seek legal representation if you have been arrested for driving under the influence. The consequences of a DUI are severe and can include driver’s license suspensions, fines, imprisonment, and the use of an ignition interlock device. Read on to learn about DUI vs. DWI, the penalties of a DUI, and the reasons you want to contact the DUI lawyers at O’Mara Law Group as soon as possible.

DUI Laws in Florida

The Florida DUI statute states a person is guilty of driving under the influence when the person:

  • Is driving or in physical control of a vehicle
  • Is under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance and
  • Is impaired by a substance and it affects the person’s normal abilities

During a traffic stop for a DUI, a police officer will look for signs the individual was driving under the influence.

Alcohol Concentration in Florida

If a person’s alcohol concentration levels meet a certain threshold, then the person is considered driving under the influence. For individuals 21 years old or older, the person is considered under the influence if their blood alcohol level is 0.08 grams per 210 liters of breath or 100 milliliters of blood. It is considered unlawful for individuals younger than 21 to have a breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher.

Implied Consent for Testing in Florida

Florida laws provide for implied consent to testing for substances in an individual. By accepting a license or driving a vehicle within Florida, individuals are deemed to give consent to submit to a physical or chemical test. Implied consent applies to tests of breath, blood, or urine. Refusing to submit to a test could result in a suspension of your driver’s license or a misdemeanor of the first degree charge if this was not the first refusal to submit to a test. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, then you could be subject to a prison term of one year or less.

Also, note your refusal to submit to a chemical or physical test can be used against you at your criminal trial for a DUI.

Penalties for DUI Convictions in Florida

In Florida, the penalties for a DUI conviction differ based on the number of offenses an individual has committed. The first two times an individual is convicted of DUI, it is considered a misdemeanor. After the third offense, the crime of DUI is considered a felony in the third degree. Penalties for DUI include:

  • Fines
  • Imprisonment
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Impoundment of immobilization of your vehicle
  • Probation, including public service or a community project
  • Installation and use of an interlock ignition device on all of your vehicles

As the number of offenses affects the severity of the penalties, future DUI prevention is crucial. A first offense of DUI has a maximum fine of \$1,000 and imprisonment of no more than six months. A second offense has a maximum fine of $2,000 and imprisonment no longer than nine months. A third, fourth, or subsequent DUI conviction could lead to a $2,000 to $5,000 fine and no more than five years of imprisonment.

A few other factors also affect the severity of penalties. Other factors that change the penalties for an individual convicted of DUI include:

  • The amount of time between the second and third convictions
  • The individual had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above
  • There is a child in the car at the time of the DUI arrest
  • There was a car accident
  • There was property damage
  • Another person was injured or killed

Fighting DUI Penalties in Florida

It is essential to hire a DUI attorney as soon as possible after the police arrest you for a DUI. One of the reasons is that you must request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to have your driving privileges reinstated. Hiring a DUI attorney as quickly as possible helps you ensure you meet this deadline.

In addition, when you hire an experienced DUI attorney to work on your behalf, the criminal defense lawyer works with you through the administrative and criminal portions of the DUI. The attorney explores all possible defenses to the DUI charge you are facing. The DUI attorney will also work to keep the government from using any evidence against you that was improperly obtained, including urine, breath, or blood test results showing your alcohol content. When possible, the DUI attorney will also work with the prosecutor to reach a plea bargain to reduce your penalties for the DUI charge.

Contact O’Mara Law Group for DUI Representation

The attorneys at O’Mara Law Group have years of experience defending DUI clients in Florida. Whether you are facing your first or fourth DUI conviction, the team at O’Mara Law Group are ready to take on all aspects of your case.

Contact O’Mara Law Group for experienced criminal defense representation.

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