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2017 House Bill 949 -Driving Under the Influence

2017 House Bill 949 entitled, “Driving Under the Influence,” was introduced by Florida State Representative Cord Byrd (R –Neptune Beach) and it passed the House Committee on March 22, 2017.

The 2017 House Bill 949 encourages first-time offenders, as a condition of probation, to voluntarily place an ignition interlock device (IID) on his or her vehicle for the first six (6) months of probation. If the person completes the terms of the IID placement successfully, then he or she may be able to have adjudication withheld on the DUI offense.

Fla. Stat. §316.193 Driving Under the Influence

Under Florida Statute § 316.193, a person may be found guilty of driving under the influence if the person is in physical control of a vehicle and has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

If a person is caught with a blood alcohol content level (BAC) higher than 0.15 percent or the offender’s BAC is under 0.15, but there is a minor in the vehicle, then under current law, a first-time offender must drive with an ignition interlock system for six (6) months.

The 2017 HB 949 will only apply to first-time offenders. The charge for a first offense DUI is a first-degree misdemeanor. For a DUI charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, the penalty is up to six (6) months in jail and up to $1,000 fines.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking over a certain amount. An IID looks and acts a lot like a breathalyzer. To operate it, you blow into it in the same manner as a normal breath test. If the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system is above a pre-programmed limit –likely 0.08—then the interlock system temporarily prevents the vehicle from starting.

According to the Florida DMV, a typical scenario with an IID goes as follows:

  1. you breathe into the IID to start the car;
  2. you wait about five minutes until the device beeps, and then you breathe into it again, and
  3. you breathe into this device approximately every 30 minutes.

The IID records the information each time you breathe into the device, and that information is transmitted to the Florida DMV.

What Will 2017 CS/HB 949 Affect?

The 2017 House Bill, if passed, will most certainly change the way DUI offenses are handled in Florida courts. Florida law does not allow DUI offenses to have adjudication withheld. An adjudication withhold is a sentence in which a judge orders probation but does not formally convict the offender.

If DUI offenses can now have adjudication withheld, then for some people who have no prior withholds, no prior convictions, and who have never sealed or expunged a criminal record, then he or she may be eligible to have their first offense DUI adjudicated withheld and eventually sealed.

Additional Resources

CS/HB 949 –Visit the official website of the Florida Senate to find the history of CS/HB 949 including voting information, when the bill was introduced and where it is in the legislative process. The Florida legislature also has a bill analysis with the fiscal effects of HB 949.

Find an Attorney for DUI Offenses in Brooksville, Florida

Having a DUI offense on your record in Florida follows you for the rest of your life if you are convicted. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to discuss your next steps.

Ashley Aulls will explain your case face-to-face and fight for your best result. We take cases at

Call (352) 593-4115 for more information about CS/HB 949.

This Article Was Last Updated on Monday, March 27, 2017.

Do I Have to Submit to Sobriety Tests at DUI Checkpoints?

DrinkCarKeycropRecently, there has been a huge debate over the constitutionality over DUI checkpoints, specifically whether drivers have to interact with law enforcement at a DUI checkpoint.

These heated debates have caused many Hernando County drivers to ask, “Legally, what are my rights at DUI stops and DUI checkpoints?”.

DUI Stop v. DUI Checkpoint

In order for an individual to understand his or her rights at a DUI stop or DUI checkpoint, one must understand the difference between the two forced interactions with law enforcement.

DUI Stop: A law enforcement officer cannot stop an individual for no reason. In order to stop a person, the police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” based on articulable, objective facts that criminal activity is afoot.

Essentially, an officer must observe certain behavior that any reasonable person would have concluded criminal activity was possibly on-going or occurred. In DUI cases, the following behavior is usually sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion:

  • Speeding
  • Driving significantly below the speed limit
  • Swerving in other lanes or failure to maintain lane
  • Erratic or reckless driving

DUI Checkpoint: DUI checkpoints are temporary, pre-arranged locations at which law enforcement stop every driver that approaches the checkpoint. Reasonable suspicion is not required, because the officer indiscriminately stops each driver.

Field Sobriety and BAC Testing

At both DUI stops and DUI checkpoints, the officer may ask drivers, whom they suspect are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to submit to field sobriety tests or BAC tests. In the state of Florida, law enforcement may request the following tests:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus– Generally, the officer will ask the driver to step out of the vehicle. Then the officer will request the driver to follow an object, such as a pen or stylus, in a straight horizontal line with his eyes. The officer is looking for a nystagmus or eye twitching, which can occur for several reasons, including intoxication.
  • Walk-and-Turn– This is possibly the most identifiable test. The officer will request the driver get out of the vehicle and walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other. Once the individual reaches the end of the line, he will be asked to pivot and walk back in a straight line, one foot in front of the other.
  • One-Leg Stand– The officer requests the driver old his foot approximately six inches off the ground with both hands by his sides.

With the aforementioned tests, law enforcement officers are granted considerable latitude. The officer can request the driver submit to more than one of the aforementioned test and also request the individual perform other tasks, such as counting or reciting the alphabet.

Another test an officer may perform is a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentrate) test or a chemical test. In the field, an officer will generally perform a breathalyzer test. The officer will request the driver blow into the portable breathalyzer machine. If the driver blows and has a BAC of 0.08 of higher, he or she may be charged with DUI.

Can I Refuse these Tests?

Knowing the difference between a field sobriety test and a BAC or chemical test is important when making a decision to refuse to take such test. An individual can refuse a field sobriety test. In most instances, it is actually recommended. The officer’s dash cam video and the officer’s testimony regarding the test can be introduced if trial is necessary. Refusal to take these tests takes away most of the prosecution’s evidence.

BAC or chemical tests are completely different. An individual may refuse to submit; however, refusal to submit has consequences. Florida is an “implied consent” state. This means that by virtue of driving on Florida’s roads and highways, an individual consents to chemical testing if suspected of DUI.

The first time an individual refuses a BAC or chemical test, his driver’s license is automatically suspended for twelve months, regardless of whether the individual is convicted of DUI. The driver’s license will be suspended for 18 months for subsequent refusals.

Whether you should refuse or submit to field sobriety testing depends on the individual facts of your case. On average, I would recommend to perform the field sobriety tests, but refuse the breathalyzer test if the driver has consumed alcohol.

Conclusion

Ashley Aulls is an experienced criminal defense attorney and managing attorney at The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. He aggressively defends individuals facing drunk driving and DUI charges, including first DUI, felony DUI, DUI manslaughter, Underage DUI, and Drugged DUI.

If you are facing criminal charges in Hernando County or the surrounding areas contact Attorney Ashley Aulls and The Law Office of Ashley Aulls at (352) 593-4115 to schedule a confidential consultation to review your case.

The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. proudly represents clients throughout Florida, including Hernando County, Sumter County, Citrus County, and the surrounding areas of Spring Hill, Brooksville, Timber Pines, and Homosassa Springs.

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This website was created solely for general information purposes. It is not intended to provide official legal counsel for any situation. Only a licensed attorney in Florida can provide you with official legal guidance after learning the details surrounding your case. Contacting Ashley M. Aulls, P.A. through e-mail, fax, phone, or other medium, does not form an attorney-client relationship.