It seems there's always an event going on in Daytona Beach. This could be anything from NASCAR to LPGA, or Biketoberfest to just a trip to the shoreline. It's no surprise to see alcohol involved in at least some of these activities. So it probably also should be no surprise that many people make the mistake of drinking and driving in the area. This guide to the basics of a DUI offense in "The World's Most Famous Beach" will help you get an idea of what might come your way, and hopefully some next steps, in a typical DUI Case in Daytona Beach.
What is a DUI?
Law enforcement may arrest and prosecute a person for DUI if that person operates an automobile while he/she is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Typically an officer will request that you submit to a blood alcohol test. If your blood alcohol level (BAL) is above 0.08, you are likely to be charged with a DUI offense. The law makes it clear, however, that you may be charged with driving under the influence even if you do not submit to the test. An officer's testimony about your appearance and behavior can be enough evidence to convict you.
What happens to me if I'm arrested?
Daytona arrestees are typically taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail. While there, you will likely be interviewed by the Pretrial Services Unit which will try to gather facts for an appropriate set of release conditions.
Within 24 hours of arrest, you will go to court for your First Appearance Hearing -- the court proceeding in which the court explains the circumstances of your arrest, sets conditions for release, schedules an arraignment, and determines whether you are "indigent" for the purpose of assigning counsel.
What are the criminal law penalties?
Prosecutors typically charge first and second-time offenders with misdemeanor crimes. If you're convicted, you can expect a fine of $500 to $1,000. The maximum and minimum fines go up with subsequent convictions. You will likely also face six months to a year in jail. The law does not set out a minimum sentence, so it is possible that you'll receive probation and/or assigned rehab as an alternative to imprisonment. Third-time offenders face more serious felony charges. Visit the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles online for a summary of DUI consequences.
Will my license be suspended? If so, when?
If you are cited or arrested for DUI, you will likely lose your driving privileges as part of an Administrative Suspension. Typically, the officer will have you take a sobriety test, and he/she will confiscate your driver license if you fail. The officer may then give you a 10-day driving permit if you qualify. Within that time you may either: (a) request an informal review, (b) request a formal review, or (c) accept your suspension. To request a review, contact a Volusia County Service Center.
The suspension term is 6 months for first time offenders. The penalty goes up to a year for future offenses. If you refuse the sobriety test, the suspension term is 1 year for first-timers and 18 months thereafter.
Will I have to enter rehab?
The State will likely require you to complete an alcohol-education program prior to granting you driving privileges. First time offenders may enter a 12-hour program, but others must complete 21 hours of instruction. Only one organization offers these classes in Volusia County. Daytona Beach residents may, however, generally choose the Licensed DUI Program that is most convenient.
Am I eligible for a hardship license?
A "Hardship License" allows a convicted DUI offender to drive to work, school, church, and medical appointments prior to the end of an Administrative Suspension. First, you must serve a minimum of 30 days without any driving privileges (90 days if you refused the sobriety test). Secondly, you must complete your DUI education (see above).
Third, you must request an administrative review by contacting the Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Service Center at 995 Orange Avenue here in town. Call (386) 254-3912. You do not have to complete your DUI education to schedule the appointment: you only need to show that you're enrolled. You may complete your program in the time period between calling the service center and the date of your review.
Lastly, you will have additional fees on top of any fines that you've already paid. You may have to pay an alcohol/drug administrative fee, revocation fees, suspension fees, and other fees related to your DUI education and ignition interlock device (IID).
What's an ignition interlock device?
The court may require you to install a device on your car(s) that prevents you from driving it without first providing an alcohol-free breath sample. The State's website shows that Volusia County drivers may contact LifeSafer regarding installation and maintenance. For more information, see the answers to frequently asked questions. If you have questions that are more specific to your case and circumstances, you might want to contact a local attorney specializing in DUI defense.