Zero Tolerance: The Consequences of Multiple DUI Arrests

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Florida, as it is everywhere in the U.S. With the state’s zero-tolerance policy, the legal consequences for multiple DUI arrests are especially severe. This blog post explains the consequences, legal procedures, and some of the effective defenses a skilled DUI defense lawyer can use to defend a driver charged with multiple DUIs in Florida. 

Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, have been focusing on the defense of DUI for many years. The reason is that DUI is a much more technical offense than most people realize. It may sound like a crime that’s cut-and-dried. However, the prosecution must present convincing, admissible evidence that fully complies with the specific technical requirements demanded by the law before the state can win a DUI conviction against a defendant.  

Unless your defense lawyer has extensive experience with the many nuances of DUI defense, they may overlook an opportunity to get their client’s case dismissed or even reduced to a lesser offense. We think you have the right to know how the best DUI defense lawyers work.  




Florida DUI Law


Florida’s DUI laws are found under Florida Statutes Section 316.193. A DUI offense occurs when a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or when their normal faculties are impaired by the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. If the driver under 21 is caught driving with a BAC as low as 0.02% or higher, they will face having their license suspended for six months. Since those under 21 have no legal right to drink alcohol, even one drink can raise their BAC to a level supporting an underage DUI prosecution. 


Factors that are considered aggravating and which can increase penalties include the following: 


  • BAC of 0.15% or higher, 
  • DUI involved accident or injuries to someone other than the accused DUI driver, 
  • A person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle during the DUI. 


Penalties for Multiple DUI Arrests 


A first-time DUI conviction in Florida carries stiff penalties, including: 

  • Up to 6 months in jail 
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (or $2,000 with aggravating circumstances) 
  • 50 Hours of community service 
  • The vehicle impounded for 10 days 


The long-lasting social and financial consequences of a DUI conviction in Florida include everything from increased insurance premiums to difficulty obtaining employment, problems getting credit, and even housing difficulties.  


Second DUI Offense 


A second DUI offense within five years of the first arrest leading to conviction elevates the severity of the penalties: 

  • Mandatory jail term of at least ten days with a maximum of up to nine months, 
  • Fines range from $1,000 to $2,000, but higher BAC levels may lead to increased fines, 
  • Driver’s license must be revoked for at least five years. 


Third DUI Offense 


A third DUI arrest within ten years is classified as a third-degree felony. Such a charge carries substantially more jail and heavy penalties: 

  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment term of 30 days, which can extend to five years.  
  • Fines up to $5,000 or more, and  
  • License revocation period is a minimum of ten years. 


Fourth DUI Offense and Beyond 


A fourth DUI arrest, regardless of when the prior offenses occurred, is also a third-degree felony in Florida. Prison terms and fines are similar to a third DUI but could be even more severe based on the judge’s discretion. Furthermore, a fourth DUI results in permanent license revocation, with no possibility for hardship reinstatement. 


Legal Procedures and Defenses 


Field Sobriety Tests and Breathalyzers 


The typical DUI arrest involves a traffic stop during which the police officer will form an opinion of the driver’s sobriety from a brief personal interaction immediately after the vehicle is pulled over. Then, the officer will instruct the driver to step out of the car and ask them to perform a group of roadside standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). 


No driver is required to perform these tests. Drivers are legally entitled to decline the field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is not actually to determine if you are impaired. Instead, these tests are merely a method for the police to collect evidence that constitutes probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI. 


When a driver does perform field sobriety tests, the officer can score their performance with clues that indicate the driver is likely to be impaired. Without those test scores, the prosecutor has much less evidence to present in court to demonstrate that probable cause existed to arrest the driver. Without probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI, no prosecution will succeed.  


Once arrested, with or without completing the SFSTs, the arresting officer will transport the suspected DUI driver to the station at which a breathalyzer test will be administered. Under Florida law, by applying for a driver’s license, every driver is consenting to take a breathalyzer test when lawfully arrested on suspicion of DUI.  


Refusal to participate in the breathalyzer test can result in immediate license suspension but can also deprive the prosecution of valuable evidence.  


Defenses to Multiple DUI Charges

Questioning Probable Cause


Challenging the officer’s probable cause to make the arrest is a defense strategy skilled DUI defense lawyers consider using in every case. Challenging the legality of the traffic stop or the arrest, if successful, will usually end the case in the defendant’s favor.  


Challenging Evidence


The reliability of breathalyzers and field sobriety tests can be questioned to undermine the prosecution’s case. Each of the SFSTs was designed by scientists to be administered in a precise manner. These tests are “standardized.” The reliability of the officer’s conclusions depends on their adherence to the prescribed test administration procedures. However officers frequently deviate from the proper protocol. The same is true of the breathalyzer testing procedures. 

Did they provide proper instructions? Did they demonstrate the desired test behavior? Did they score the driver accurately? Were lighting, weather, and road surface conditions appropriate? 

With the widespread use of police bodycams, the video is useful for defense lawyers to detect errors made by police during DUI stops and testing procedures.  


Procedural Errors


Errors in the arrest process, such as failing to read Miranda Rights, can also be an effective defense.


Secure Your Future with Tampa’s Premier DUI Defense Team 


In Florida, the consequences of multiple DUI arrests are life-altering. Don’t let these charges define your future. Take action now. At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, our experienced DUI defense lawyers are ready to fight for your rights.  


Whether it’s questioning probable cause, challenging evidence, or uncovering procedural errors, we have the expertise to protect your interests. Your future is at stake, and you deserve the best defense. Contact us at 813-280-1244 to secure the experienced DUI defense you need. Don’t wait – let us help you navigate the legal complexities and work towards a brighter tomorrow. 


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