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Florida DUI

DUI attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

A DUI is a criminal offense under Florida law. The offense is proved by impairment of “normal faculties” or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. For a first time conviction, your fine will be between $500-$2,000.

Driving Under the Influence

Florida has some of the strictest laws in the nation regarding drinking and driving. A DUI conviction comes with serious penalties including jail time, fines, and requirements to complete community service and install an ignition interlock device. In addition to the criminal punishments, the driver can face administrative and civil repercussions, including a driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Being arrested for DUI can be an intimidating experience. The most important thing to keep in mind is that an arrest does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of DUI. Although driving under the influence is a serious offense, having the right DUI defense lawyer in Tallahassee, FL, at your side can help you defend your good name and move on with your life.

DUI Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

After the arrest, you only have ten (10) days to protect your driver’s license by demanding a formal review hearing. Do NOT just waive your rights by seeking immediate reinstatement of hardship privileges.

Hiring an attorney during that ten-day window is the most important decision you will make. Before you decide, you should schedule a free and confidential consultation to speak with an attorney at Pumphrey Law.

Attorney Don Pumphrey has years of experience defending clients facing drunk driving charges. He has attended advanced training seminars and received recognition from National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) which is the leading organization for the top DUI defense lawyers across the United States.

DUI Attorney Aaron Wayt, of the Pumphrey Law Firm, was awarded the DUI Gladiator Award in 2019 by the Florida Association of Criminal Defense. This award is for the Best DUI attorney in the State of Florida, as recognized by his peers. 

Don Pumphrey and the other attorneys in his office are experienced in the tactics used by DUI enforcement officers throughout Tallahassee and Leon County. He represents clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Leon County and the entire Big Bend region of North Florida, including Liberty County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, and Gadsden County.

Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to schedule a free consultation with an attorney. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Information About DUI Charges in Florida

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Definition of Driving Under the Influence in Florida

Under Florida Statutes Section 316.193, drivers can be considered under the influence when they are driving or are merely in “actual physical control” of a vehicle and the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  A DUI requires a showing that at the time, the person was under the influence of any chemical substance that distorts or disturbs the auditory, visual, or mental processes or alcohol to the point that the person’s normal faculties were impaired.

Florida’s DUI laws define the term “normal faculties” to mean the ability to perform the mental and physical acts of daily life, such as driving, seeing, hearing, balancing, or talking.

Prosecutors also have another way to prove a DUI regardless of actual impairment. Under Florida’s “per se” version of a DUI, if your BAC at the time of driving is above the legal limit of .08, then you can be convicted of a DUI even if the jury is not convinced that you were impaired. Law enforcement officers have various ways to determine a driver’s BAC, including a breath test, blood test, or urine test. In Florida, the most commonly requested chemical test is a breath test on Florida’s Intoxilyzer 8000.

The punishments and penalties are the same, regardless of which alternative method is used to allege this offense. Although both methods of proving this offense can be alleged at trial, if the defendant is found guilty, then the court will only impose a sentence on one count of DUI.

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Can I Be Charged with a DUI in Florida if the Car Was Parked?

One of the most confusing aspects of DUI offenses in Florida is that a person can be charged with the offense even if he or she was not driving. Under Florida law, if a person is in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated, he or she can be arrested.

People have been charged with driving under the influence after pulling over to “sleep it off” in a parking lot. The courts can look at several different factors in determining whether the evidence is sufficient to overcome a motion to dismiss, including:

  • Whether or not the vehicle was running when the officer approached;
  • Where the vehicle was parked;
  • Whether the hood of the vehicle was hot, indicating the vehicle was driven recently;
  • If the keys were in the ignition;
  • Whether the keys were located within easy reach of the defendant;
  • Whether the defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat in an upright or reclining position; and
  • If the vehicle was operable or whether it could not be driven because of a mechanical problem.

In many of these cases, your criminal defense attorney will argue that your initial detention was illegal since the officer did not see you driving and had no reason to detain you. Additionally, without sufficient evidence that you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle, your attorney can file a “motion to dismiss” the DUI charge.

If you were charged with driving under the influence when you were not actually operating the vehicle, a criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee, FL, can help you build a strong defense against the charges as you fight for the best possible result.

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Implied Consent Laws in Florida

Florida has an implied consent law. Florida’s implied consent law, under Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.1932, provides that anytime a person gets behind the wheel in Florida, he or she is deemed to have given his or her implied consent to submit to a chemical test during a DUI stop. However, this does not mean a driver has agreed to field sobriety tests.

If a driver refuses to submit a breath, blood, or urine sample for a BAC test, he or she can face civil penalties, including an automatic license suspension for up to one year. If it is the second time he or she refused a BAC test, the license could be suspended for up to 18 months.

When a driver refuses a test, he or she automatically is arrested and receives a “Notice of Suspension.” The suspension is imposed immediately, and the license can be suspended for up to one year. One of the most important things to know is that a driver has only ten (10) days after an arrest to fight for his or her driving privileges.

Within those 10-days, drivers must request a Formal Review Hearing with the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to contest the driver’s license suspension. An attorney can help to obtain a 42-day driving permit to drive for business or work purposes while fighting the suspension.

The driver’s license suspension is entirely separate from the DUI charges. The suspension is a civil penalty, and the drunk driving charges are criminal penalties. This means in some scenarios a person could avoid a DUI conviction but still suffer the administrative DUI suspension.

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Punishments and Penalties for DUI under Florida Law

A DUI in Florida is administered when someone in control of a motor vehicle has a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. If convicted, there are different penalties for a Florida DUI that depend on whether it’s your first offense or higher and other factors such as if a child was present, if the breath test was higher than .15, and if an accident occurred.

The First DUI

Drivers who are convicted of a First DUI in Florida would face second-degree misdemeanor charges. Penalties include:

  • A fine of $500 to $1,000, unless the driver had a BAL .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle, which then would be a fine of $1,000 to $2,000
  • Fifty hours of community service
  • Up to one year of probation
  • Up to six months in jail; unless the driver had a BAL .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle, which then would be up to nine months in jail
  • License Revocation: Minimum 180 days
  • Twelve hours DUI School Requirement Evaluation conducted to determine the need for treatment
  • Up to 6 continuous months with an Ignition Interlock Device

The Second DUI

If you happen to be pulled over and arrested for a Second DUI in Florida, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties will be much more severe, and will potentially include the following:

  • A fine of $1,000 to $2,000, unless the driver had a BAL .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle, which then would be a fine of $2,000 to $4,000
  • Up to nine months in jail
  • License Revocation: Minimum 180 days
  • Twenty-one hours of Level II DUI School Requirement Evaluation conducted to determine the need for treatment
  • At least one year with an Ignition Interlock Device

The Third DUI

Third DUI offense in Florida could be a third-degree felony. If a prior driving under the influence conviction occurred more than ten (10) years before the most recent arrest, the offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Those penalties could include:

  • A fine of $2,000 to $5,000, unless the driver had a BAL .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle, which then would be a fine of not less than $4,000
  • Up to one year in jail
  • License Revocation: Minimum 180 days
  • Twenty-one hours of Level II DUI School Requirement Evaluation conducted to determine the need for treatment
  • Minimum of two years with an Ignition Interlock Device

The Fourth DUI – A Felony

If a person is arrested for a fourth or subsequent DUI, the offense will be otherwise known as a Felony DUI, no matter how many prior convictions or the time that has elapsed. Felony DUI penalties include:

  • A fine of not less than $1,000
  • Up to five years in jail
  • License Revoked: Permanent revocation
  • Other types of felony DUI charges including charges of Florida DUI Manslaughter


Under Florida Statutes Section 316.193(6), when the defendant is convicted of a DUI, the court is required to impound the defendant’s vehicle unless the defendant shows that an exception applies. This means that if you are convicted of a DUI, the court issues an order that your vehicle must be impounded or immobilized unless you are able to show to the court that this order will create a hardship.

The amount of time that the vehicle needs to be impounded or immobilize begins to run after the defendant has finished serving their period of incarceration (if any) and is a mandatory requirement for probation. This time requirement is based on whether this is a first, second, or third offense.

  • 10 days if it’s the 1st DUI Conviction
  • 30 days if it’s their 2nd DUI Conviction occurring within 5 years from the prior conviction

90 days if it’s their 3rd and subsequent DUI Conviction occurring within 10 years from the prior convictions.

DUI with Property Damage

When a DUI offense occurs in conjunction with property damage, the crime is charged as DUI with Property Damage. Certain enhanced penalties occur when the driver is in an incident involving property damage to another vehicle or non-serious bodily injury to another person. The enhanced penalties include a longer statutory maximum period of incarceration and an enhanced fine.

Even if there is no personal injury, it’s important to understand that due to Florida’s harsh stand against DUI cases, the prosecutor will likely try to charge and prosecute you no matter what.

Under Florida Statute 316.193(3), even if the driver has no prior arrest record, the crime can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by 12 months in the county jail and fines up to $1,000. Additionally, certain other minimum conditions must be imposed by the judge, including probation and a requirement that the driver installs the dreaded ignition interlock device.

An Ignition Interlock Device is used in all states in relation to a drunk driving conviction. They are commonly known as a car breathalyzer or sometimes as “blow and go.” This last name comes from the fact that the device is installed in a person’s car and the person must blow into the interlock device mouthpiece before they can start their car. If the device detects a breath-alcohol level higher than it’s programmed to allow, then the car won’t start and can even prevent the vehicle for a certain period.

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury

If the offense includes an injury to another, the crime is charged as a DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. This is a third-degree felony offense and carries with it a maximum statutory penalty of five years in a Florida State Prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and the driver could lose their driving privileges.

Under Florida Statute 316.193(3), “seriously injured” includes any injury to a person that was involved in the car accident. This includes the driver, and also any passenger in the defendant’s vehicle. The injury can be physical disfigurement, loss or impairment of bodily functions, or any injury that will likely result in death.

DUI  for Juvenile’s Under 21

In a Juvenile DUI, a driver younger than 21 is considered impaired when they  blow more than 0.02 BAC. Florida’s “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving means that even one alcoholic beverage can lead to an underage driver being charged with driving under the influence.

A juvenile under 21 who is arrested for for the first time with a Dui could face could face six-month’s in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, mandatory community service, losing their driving privilege for six months, and could even have their vehicle impounded.

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Fighting to Exclude or Suppress DUI Evidence

Drunk driving cases can be complicated, and after an arrest, a driver may feel like there is no way out. In many cases, evidence listed in the police reports may not be admissible at trial. A Tallahassee DUI defense attorney can fight to exclude or suppress certain evidence including:

  • Evidence gained after an improper or illegal stop
  • Observations made by the officer during field sobriety testing
  • Statements allegedly made to the officer concerning alcohol or drug consumption
  • Evidence you refused to take a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine
  • Results of breath, blood, or urine test

Each piece of evidence excluded by the court may increase the chances that you will win a motion to dismiss or obtain a “non-guilty verdict” at trial. Even before the trial, filing and litigating pre-trial motions remain the best way to force the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious offense, such as reckless driving.

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DUI Resources

  • Leon County DUI Enforcement Officers
    The officers in the Traffic Unit with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office receive specialized training in DUI enforcement to detect and deter drivers impaired by drugs or alcoholic beverages. Members of the unit work in roving patrols, DUI saturation patrols, and stationary DUI checkpoints (often called a “DUI roadblock”). Leon County DUI enforcement officers on the traffic unit work in conjunction with other local agencies to perform saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints.
  • Florida Department of Motor Vehicles
    The Florida DMV issues driver’s licenses, license plates, and vehicle registration for the state of Florida. It also includes information on driving records, auto insurance, learner permits, and traffic ticket options.

2900 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 617-2449

  • Florida Mothers Against Drunk Driving
    MADD is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. This site provides information on its various services, including resources for crime victim compensation and assistance.

3 W Garden Street #349
Pensacola, FL 32502
(888) 252-6233

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
    AA is a national association for overcoming alcoholism and alcohol abuse. The main site includes information about the history of AA, its philosophy, and the methods it uses to help individuals beat alcoholism.

1106 H Thomasville Rd
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 224-1818

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Finding a DUI Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

An arrest for a DUI does not mean you will be convicted of this serious crime. The right Tallahassee DUI defense lawyers can frame a strong defense strategy while making sure your rights are protected, giving you the greatest chance at a reduction or dismissal of charges. Contact Pumphrey Law today at (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss the details of your case.

Whether your case involves a breath, blood, or urine test, or a refusal to submit to testing, call Pumphrey Law to discuss your case with an experienced DUI attorney in Leon County, FL.

Article updated on June 12th, 2022

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