DUI is taken very seriously in Florida, but one of the most dangerous and serious offenses involves children. Children have limited power and are often unable to make decisions when it comes to their safety. As a result, they are dependent on those who care for them to protect them from any possible dangers. Florida takes a strong stand on child endangerment and has several laws in place with regards to the safety of children while they are in a vehicle. These laws provide protection for children so that they can be safe when on Florida’s roads and highways. Particular emphasis is placed on drivers who are DUI while carrying children.
Any driver who drives while under the influence with a child in the car is committing a criminal offense. This covers both the use of drugs and alcohol. Under Florida law, a criminal offense such as this is punishable by at least a nine month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine if it is a first offense and if the child has not reached the age of 18. If a second offense is committed, the fine could well reach $2,000 and a year in jail. In the situation of a third time offender, the penalty could be up to 12 months in jail and a fine reaching $5,000 once convicted.
Whatever offense you have committed, it is compulsory for an ignition interlocking device to be fitted to the vehicle, if a child is likely to be a passenger. This measures any alcohol that may be present in the breath and prevents you from starting the engine.
If you have been stopped for DUI by a Tampa law enforcement officer then you will have to be prepared for the consequences. However, you still have the same rights as any DUI defendant and that is defending your charge. There might be a number of reasons why the charge is not accurate, which could include:
- Wrong interpretation of Field Sobriety Tests
- Incorrect reading on blood or breath tests
- The arresting officer not following Florida’s statute of limitations.
If the above events occur, then with the help of a Tampa DUI lawyer, you can attempt to get your charge dismissed or lessen the penalty. The fact that a child is involved does not mean that you are automatically guilty of DUI. It has to be proven beyond doubt in a court of law. You must not allow yourself to be intimidated if you think that your charge of DUI is not correct. Neither you nor your child will benefit if you are charged and penalized for something that you did not do. A DUI lawyer will ensure that all the evidence presented is correct before any conviction is delivered in court.