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What You Need to Know About Drinking and Driving in Clearwater

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Most people in Clearwater, Florida know that they shouldn’t drink and drive. If you are one of those people, however, who believe that you can get away with having a few drinks and then still get behind the wheel of your car, there are some statistics that might surprise you. In 2011, the Florida DMV reported that there were 33,625 DUI convictions in the state of Florida. This means that a lot of drunk drivers do get caught.

  • In Clearwater drinking and driving has consequences that you should not take lightly. Not only do you have a greater chance of being in a car accident, but there are strict penalties to face if you get caught. First time DUI (driving under the influence) convictions are subject to a fine of $250 to $500. You will receive 50 hours of community service and could serve up to six months of jail time. You will also have your license suspended for a minimum of 180 days. If you are convicted of a second or even third DUI offense, you can generally expect higher fines and a longer jail sentence. Drunk drivers that are convicted will also notice a significant increase in the amount they pay for auto insurance.
  • In the state of Florida, if you are over 21 years of age, you are considered to be legally impaired if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. The fines and punishment significantly increase if you have a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher. Since 21 is the legal drinking age in the state of Florida, drivers under the age of 21 are considered to be driving under the influence if they have a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher. This means that if you are under 21 and have consumed almost any amount of alcohol at all, the law will consider you to be driving under the influence. Since you are below the legal drinking age, this will result in an automatic suspension of your license for 6 months.
  • Regardless of your age those who are suspected of driving under the influence are treated the same way. The officer will ask you to step out of your vehicle and submit to a series of sobriety tests. He will typically ask you to walk in a straight line or perhaps say the alphabet backwards. You are then usually asked to blow into a breathalyzer, which uses a ratio to calculate the blood alcohol content in your system. If the amount is .08 or greater (or .02 if you are under 21), you will be arrested. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer or the officer suspects that you may be under the influence of something else, such as a narcotic, you are typically transported to a hospital for a blood or urine test. Once these tests are completed, the officer will transport you to jail where you will stay until you are receive a bail hearing in front of a judge and your court date is set.

This guest post was written by Musca Law, located at 13575 58th Street North, #200, Clearwater, Florida 33760. You can reach them by phone at727-480-9675. Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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