Florida aggressively prosecutes repeat drunk driving offenders. When a person is arrested for an alleged fourth driving under the influence (DUI) offense, it almost always results in felony criminal charges.
In addition to lengthy prison sentences and steep fines, alleged offenders in these cases also face the prospect of possibly having their driver’s licenses revoked for life if convicted. It is important to understand that prosecutors can experience difficulty proving prior convictions that are more than 10 years old or occurred in other states.
Were you arrested for your alleged fourth drunk driving offense anywhere in South Florida? You will want to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable outcome to your case.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell represent individuals accused of DUI violations in Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, and many surrounding areas of Broward County. Call (954) 716-8538 right now to have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
A person can be charged with DUI in one of two ways in Florida. An alleged offender who had a breath or blood alcohol concentration (commonly abbreviated simply as BAC) of 0.08 of higher can be charged with a “per se” (Latin for "by itself" or "in itself") DUI, because Florida Statute § 316.1934(2)(c) establishes that such a BAC “is prima facie evidence that the person was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired.”
People can also be charged with DUI in Florida if they are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or any substance controlled, when affected to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired. In such cases, an alleged offender could be arrested for drunk driving if he or she refuses to submit to a chemical test or has a blood or breath test indicating a BAC less than 0.08. While such test results will result in jurors being told to presume that the alleged offender was not under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired, that presumption can be overcome by other evidence that may be introduced by the prosecution.
Florida Statute § 316.193(2)(b)3 establishes that any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI—regardless of when any prior drunk driving conviction occurred—commits a third-degree felony. In State v. Kelly, 999 So.2d 1029, 1053 (Fla.2008), however, the Supreme Court of Florida concluded, “Article I, section 16 of the Florida Constitution, as influenced by Florida's prospective-imprisonment standard, prevents the State from using uncounseled misdemeanor convictions to increase or enhance a defendant's later misdemeanor to a felony, unless the defendant validly waived his or her right to counsel with regard to those prior convictions.”
The Court noted that the State could still constitutionally seek increased penalties and fines short of incarceration associated with the alleged offender’s relevant number of DUI offenses, but the alleged offender can also assert under oath, through a properly executed affidavit that the prosecutor may be precluded from using prior misdemeanor convictions to support a felony DUI conviction if:
If a fourth or subsequent DUI offense is not classified as a felony, the alleged offender is usually charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
If an alleged offender’s fourth DUI is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, a conviction can be punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of at least $4,000. When a person is charged with a third-degree felony following a fourth DUI arrest, convictions are punishable by up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $5,000.
One of the most damaging aspects of being convicted of a fourth DUI in Florida is the permanent revocation of the alleged offender’s driver's license. People may be able to obtain hardship licenses only after 10 years of the revocation has been served, but the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has the power to cancel the hardship license if the alleged offender fails to comply with the requirements of the Special Supervision Services (SSS) program.
Some of the other punishments that the court may impose for fourth DUI convictions include, but are not limited to:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Broward County Intergroup — AA describes itself as “a fellowship of men and women who share their experience strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” There are no fees to join AA as the “only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Visit this website to view a calendar of upcoming events, read newsletters, and find the times and locations of meetings in Broward County.
Broward County Intergroup
Oakland Commerce Center
3317 NW 10th Terrace, Suite 404
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Annual Uniform Traffic Citation Report — On this section of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website, you can generate custom traffic citation reports. You can specify the year, county, and law enforcement agency as well as the violation classification, group, and code to customize your data. Reports are available in PDF or Excel formats.
If you were arrested anywhere in the greater Broward County area for your alleged fourth drunk driving offense, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defends clients all over South Florida, including Tamarac, Margate, Coconut Creek, Hallandale Beach, Wilton Manors, Sunrise, Deerfield Beach, Weston, and numerous other nearby communities.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. They can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (954) 716-8538 or submit an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation.
Click here to learn what Meltzer & Bell can do for you regarding your DUI by visiting our traffic department.