Robin Fuson
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Don’t Push Your Luck This St. Patrick’s Day, You Could Get A DUI

DUI

If you intend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 – in the Tampa Bay area this year, you’ll want to keep the luck of the Irish on your side, and one of the best ways to do that is to avoid drinking and driving. Whenever you travel on Central Florida’s streets and highways or ride along as a passenger, it is probable that an impaired driver is on the road with you, and on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s even more probable. Do not let that impaired driver be you. Consider these tips for staying out of jail – and for staying injury-free – when you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year:

Consider these tips for staying out of jail – and for staying injury-free – when you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year:

-If you have plans to enjoy some green beer or Irish whiskey with friends, arrange in advance for a designated driver, a taxi, a limo, a rideshare service, a hotel or motel room, or a friend’s sofa.

-If you leave your keys at home, you won’t be tempted to drive after you’ve had a few drinks.

-Never drive any vehicle – not even a bicycle – unless you are completely and thoroughly sober. On St. Patrick’s Day or any other day. Ever.

-On St. Patrick’s Day, some drivers will be intoxicated. If you drive, even if you’re not drinking at all, do not forget to buckle your seat belt. Checking your tire pressure, brakes, wipers, and all of your lights is a good idea too. If you are walking to your car or home at the end of the evening, bring a flashlight, and have a friend join you if possible.

-Tampa DUI attorney Robin Fuson offers this advice: “If you plan on drinking too much green beer, always have a designated driver, stick a $20 bill in your pocket and save it for a cab or have an Uber account, or just don’t drink. Too much green beer can remove a lot of green from your wallet.”

While even a first-offense misdemeanor DUI charge is a quite serious matter in the state of Florida, if you drive under the influence and you are involved in a traffic collision, you could face an aggressive prosecution and severe criminal penalties that change your entire life – negatively. However, most Florida motorists who are charged with driving under the influence are first-time offenders who will face a misdemeanor DUI charge.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DUI IN FLORIDA?

The penalties in this state for a “simple” DUI conviction – when it’s a first offense and no one was injured, no property was damaged, and no other crime is charged – include a one-year driver’s license suspension, up to six months in jail, up to a year on probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. When sentenced to probation, the offender may be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol without a warrant or even a warning, and at his or her own expense.

However, if an intoxicated driver in Florida injures someone – or if that driver causes a death and the charge is DUI-manslaughter, a conviction will probably mean at least four years or more in a Florida state prison, along with a number of other criminal penalties. An impaired driver who is responsible for injuries or fatalities may also be subject to a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts. A DUI conviction is quite persuasive evidence in a personal injury trial. It is even possible that a DUI offender might be required to pay a victim substantially for damages that automobile insurance may not cover.

An impaired driver who is responsible for injuries or fatalities may also be subject to a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts. A DUI conviction is quite persuasive evidence in a personal injury trial. It is even possible that a DUI offender might be required to pay a victim substantially for damages that automobile insurance may not cover.

Apart from the criminal penalties and potential civil penalties, anyone accused of driving under the influence may also have to pay for bail and for towing and storage fees. A DUI conviction additionally means that an offender must pay tuition for DUI classes, a license reinstatement fee when the driver’s license suspension is lifted, and monthly probation fees during the term of probation.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF A DUI CONVICTION?

A driving under the influence conviction additionally entails extra-legal consequences that must also be considered. A conviction certainly means auto higher insurance rates (when the offender is allowed to resume driving) and sometimes means the loss of a job – particularly if the offender is a professional driver. With a six-month driver’s license suspension, finding work or getting to work and back can become quite burdensome – if not impossible.

In Florida and every other state, intoxicated drivers cause thousands of traffic crashes, serious personal injuries, and tragic highway fatalities each year. Since 2001, more than 180,000 men, women, and children have died on U.S. streets and highways in alcohol-related traffic collisions – over 10,000 deaths a year and more than 27 every single day, according to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The single-day figure is an average; the true injury and death count jumps substantially higher on holidays like St. Patrick’s.

The holiday celebrates Saint Patrick and Irish culture with festivals, public parades in many cities, and the wearing of green clothing or shamrocks. Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, but that probably is not the main reason for more intoxicated drivers.

One reason why there are more intoxicated drivers on any holiday is because many people who seldom drink at all will have a couple of festive drinks with friends – and then get behind the wheel. A blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent is the legal drinking limit in Florida, which for most people is approximately one glass of wine or one bottle of beer.

WHAT ABOUT DUI CHECKPOINTS ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY?

It is quite likely that police department “task forces” – like the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office’s “DUI Wolf Pack” – will be out in force and that area law enforcement agencies will also be conducting a number of sobriety checkpoints on St. Patrick’s Day, especially after dark. If you are detained at a DUI checkpoint, be pleasant, cooperate, and you will probably pass easily through the checkpoint.

Whether or not you’re Irish, anyone charged with DUI in Central Florida – on St. Patrick’s Day or on any other day – should have an experienced attorney review the case and provide the sound legal advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. Tampa DUI attorney Robin Fuson explains: “Aside from my fees, there are court costs, fines, the cost of treatment if recommended and at

Tampa DUI attorney Robin Fuson explains: “Aside from my fees, there are court costs, fines, the cost of treatment if recommended and at minimum, without hiring an attorney, a DUI will run you close to $1,000. So be safe, have fun and if you or your friends should find yourselves in need of an attorney please don’t hesitate to call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I really do answer all the time.”

Do not attempt to act as your own attorney – when the charge is driving under the influence, far too much will be at risk. Most drivers likely do not consider their finances, their families, and their futures when they make the choice to drink and drive, but they should. Driving under the influence is always dangerous, always ill-advised, never a good idea, never acceptable, and never worth it.

Robin Fuson
By Robin Fuson