Most people associate DUIs with alcohol intoxication only. Not completely.
Driving under the influence means under the influence of a number of different “intoxicants”. Alcohol is one, but not nearly the only one. Some of you may have read that a number of people have been arrested for DUI in the middle of the night while they’re operating their car under the influence of……Ambien. A sleeping pill.
Did they mean to get behind the wheel while sleepwalking and cause mayhem on the road? Of course not, but the standard of F.S. 316.193 isn’t intentionality, it’s when the person is “affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.” And that can be either: alcohol, illegal narcotics or even prescribed sleeping pills.
Another mistaken belief: Let’s say you’re on your way home and have pushed the limits of your drinking on this particular evening and are being incredibly careful to maintain your speed, stay in the lines and remain in control of your vehicle. You’re sitting at a dead stop at a red light and WHAM, you get rear ended by someone more intoxicated than you.
You didn’t cause the crash, but if your breathalyzer reading is .08 or higher, you’re going to jail too. You were operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and this violates Florida law – it doesn’t matter whether you caused the accident or not.
Yet another mistaken belief about DUIs: You heard about the option of not taking the breathalyzer as your legal right. Therefore they cannot arrest you for DUI if you haven’t blown into the machine, right? No, wrong. You can still be arrested for intoxication and impairment if certain other factors are met. And, since you haven’t taken the breathalyzer, your license won’t be suspended for 6 months like with DUI cases; it’ll be suspended for one year because of the refusal.
So, folks, whether you’re on your way home to or from Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Dunedin, Clearwater, Oldsmar, anywhere in this county, it just isn’t worth the risk regardless of the short distance you may have to drive. If you think you might be impaired, you probably are.
Having defended DUI defendants in the past, it just isn’t worth the night in jail, the costs for attorney’s fees, court costs, costs for probation, the ding to your reputation and the public humiliation.
And, of course, if you do find yourself on the wrong side of a DUI arrest, remember it is always better to have an attorney represent you than not.