How to Avoid DUI During Fourth of July Holiday

July 26, 2023 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI

Each summer the 4th of July rolls around with a day filled with celebration, fireworks, and honoring the nation. However, it is also one of the most dangerous days on the road for drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were an estimated 1,460 drivers killed between 2017 to 2021 in motor vehicle accidents during the 4th of July holiday period. Out of those, 38% were driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other unlawful substances.

Florida has harsh penalties for driving under the influence. It is important to be familiar with the laws and penalties, as well as how to defend yourself if are unfortunate enough to be arrested on Independence Day. Finding an experienced defense attorney is the first step towards getting a DUI charge lessened or dismissed.

This page will provide information on Florida DUI and their penalties, sobriety checkpoints, and tips to avoid DUIs for July 4th.

Charges for DUI in Florida

Florida Statute Section 316.193 covers the laws and penalties for DUI. If convicted, the penalties for DUI in Florida are as follows:

  • First conviction – Fine starting at $500 and ranging up to $1,000. A jail sentence of up to six months is also a possibility.
  • Second conviction – Fine starting at $1,000 and ranging up to $2,000. A jail sentence of up to nine months is also a possibility.
  • Third conviction – If the third conviction occurs within 10 years of the previous one, it will be a third-degree felony. Not only does the felony conviction make it harder to get a job and affect your life more, but the fines are higher, and you face potential prison time now. There may be a fine of up to $5,000, and a prison sentence of up to 5 years. The court will also mandate the installation of an ignition lock device for a minimum of 2 years, at your own expense. If the third conviction is 10 or more years after the last conviction, then there is a possibility of a fine ranging from at least $2,000, but no more than $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to 12 months.
  • Fourth or subsequent (regardless of timeframe between previous conviction) – Much like a third conviction within 10 years, this conviction is also a third-degree felony. This time however, there is a mandatory fine of at least $2,000, but no more than $5,000. There is also the possibility of a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

It’s important to note that the penalties may be more severe if the person accused of DUI had a BAC level of 0.15 or higher.

DUI Checkpoints and Roadblocks

During busy holidays such as the 4th of July, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to administer DUI checkpoints or roadblocks.

Law enforcement officers utilize DUI or “sobriety checkpoints” to reduce the dangers caused by drunk driving, and to ensure the likelihood that any impaired driving will be both identified and penalized. According to the CDC, sobriety checkpoints allow police to stop vehicles at a specific location to check the drivers for signs of impairment.

While Florida is one of 37 states to enforce DUI checkpoints, there are specific standards that must be followed when administering them. The standard process for sobriety checkpoints includes:

  • Decision making from a supervising officer to set up a DUI checkpoint based on available data on impaired driving in the area;
  • Choosing a specific location based on safety and visibility to drivers without being too intrusive;
  • Providing a public notice within adequate time to address when and where the checkpoint will take place;
  • Law enforcement must follow the systematic operation procedures, such as stopping every third or fourth vehicle to avoid discrimination;
  • Brief detention that only lasts long enough for law enforcement to observe and assess whether the stopped driver is impaired;
  • Supervision by a commanding officer who is responsible for maintaining compliance with sobriety checkpoint guidelines; and
  • Data collection for law enforcement such as marking how many cars were stopped, along with how many citations or arrests were made.

To find out more about sobriety checkpoints, read our informative page here.

Five Signs of Impairment

The Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicle’s (FLHSMV) Impaired Driving page highlights the dangers of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. FLHSMV states that alcoholic beverages, controlled substances, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications can all result in impairment when driving. Additionally, the five signs of impaired driving according to FLHSMV are listed below:

  1. Slowed reaction time;
  2. Limited short-term memory functions;
  3. Decreased hand-eye coordination;
  4. Weakened concentration; and
  5. Difficulty perceiving time and distance.

Tips for Avoiding DUI

If you plan on drinking this 4th of July, the best way to avoid a DUI charge is to not drive. The following are some helpful tips to avoid a DUI charge this holiday:

  • Use a ridesharing app such as Uber or Lyft;
  • Designate a sober driver;
  • Stay overnight if you are celebrating far from home;
  • Use public transportation; and
  • Drink responsibly!

Contact a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you find yourself facing DUI charges this 4th of July, make it your priority to speak with a legal professional. The state of Florida takes a harsh stance against drunk driving and getting caught behind the wheel after drinking can result in harsh penalties. You could be facing expensive fines, jail time, and even potential imprisonment. Not to mention the possibility of losing your license.

Don Pumphrey and his legal team have years of experience  defending against drunk driving charges. Our firm understands the nuances and scientific specificities of the legal landscape surrounding DUI and can help strategize a defense plan. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave us a message online to receive a free consultation.

Written by Karissa key

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