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Fort Myers DUI/DWI Law Blog

How does a suspended license impact your life?

In Florida, drivers who are accused of DUI-related crimes can face the very real possibility of having their license suspended. In some extreme cases, it may even be revoked. Steven Wetter, Attorney at Law, will help you protect your ability to drive when it's being threatened.

But it's more than just your ability to drive that's at risk here. Every area of your life can be impacted by a suspended or revoked license. For example, have you considered your work commute? If you live far away from your job, it might be nearly impossible to get there via public transportation instead of car. Even if it is possible, you could be looking at adding hours on to your daily commuting time.

Putting life back together after a license suspension

The reason may have been insignificant, but the effects of a suspended license could present challenges to one's daily routine. No matter what type of drunk driving charge occurred, losing a license can threaten one's career and even quality of life. Floridians in these tricky situations may benefit from learning more about the state's administrative suspension laws and the ways they can manage the problem as best as possible.

Whether a driver faces serious consequences after an offense or simply wants to expand knowledge on state laws, it can prove advantageous to learn what offenses, exactly, lead to license suspension. The Sun Sentinel shared in February that a plethora of offenses fit under the umbrella of license revocation, including:

  • Failure to pay child support
  • Skipping traffic school
  • Missing a court date
  • Alcohol possession (for those under 18)

The penalties accompanying subsequent DUIs

Many often will attribute your first DUI in Fort Myers to a simple lapse in judgment, especially in cases where you are the only one that is affected. The same might be said about a second conviction. However, once you reach three DUI convictions and beyond, the penalties that you may face tend to get more severe. Our team at Steven Wetter Attorney at Law, P.A. has worked with clients facing subsequent DUI convictions, and their concerns are typically the same: at what point are they facing felony DUI charges? 

Your first two DUI convictions within a 10-year period will likely only result in misdemeanor charges. The exception to this would be if your driving under the influence caused accidents which resulted in property damage or serious injuries to others. Any subsequent DUI arrests within that same time period will likely result in felony charges. What exactly are potential criminal penalties you could face if convicted? The Florida High Safety and Motor Vehicles division lists them as being a prison sentence between 30 days to up to five years. That sentence could be extended even further if it is determined you meet the criteria for being a habitual felony offender. 

Are drinking laws in america too strict?

Underage drinking is an age-old subject that receives a great deal of debate. Many Floridians might agree that the current age of 21 is fitting for drinking laws, but others argue that it should be lowered. There are a plethora of arguments to each side of this topic, but the issue remains clear: thousands of Americans face severe penalties for a drinking decision made long ago. 

In most states, there is a set legal drinking age, but also a number of exceptions. Nonprofit charity ProCon takes an objective look at underage drinking in America, quickly identifying alcohol as the number one drug of choice among younger generations. A major concern involves binge drinking, which can lead to harmful situations. ProCon lists some of the advantages, however, to lowering the drinking age in the country, including the chance of ending abuse. Some claim that bars could become "safe spaces" for college students, resulting in a culture that reflects responsible drinking. Among the cons were the chances of increased car accidents. ProCon cites experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection to show that raising the drinking age to 21 resulted in a 16 percent drop in car crashes.

Why measure your breath to get your blood alcohol concentration?

The implications of you refusing to submit to a breath test in Fort Myers have been detailed on this blog in the past. While refusing a chemical breath test is a violation of the state's implied consent law, refusing a preliminary alcohol screening (like a Breathlyzer test) is not. Yet despite the setting or the circumstances, you might wonder why your breath is even measured when your level of impairment is determined by the alcohol concentration in your blood. How does your breath offer a measurement of the content of your blood? 

The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership explains how. Ethanol is the chemical form of alcohol found in beer, wine and liquor. It is used in such drinks because it is water soluble. This is the pathway ethanol travels upon entering your body: 

  • After being ingested, it passes through the membranes of your stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream via passive diffusion.
  • Once in the blood, capillaries carry it to the veins, which then carry it to the heart, which then pumps the venous blood (which is oxygenated) to the lungs.
  • In the lungs, some of the ethanol vaporizes into a gas via exhalation, while the rest returns to the heart and is sent in the blood to the rest of the body via the arteries running from the left ventricle.
  • Ethanol gas built up in the lungs (more specifically, the alveolar sac) escapes when you exhale. 
  • As ethanol gas escapes, more is vaporized from the bloodstream to achieve an equilibrium. 

With so many warnings about DUI, why do people still do it?

You cannot avoid hearing about the dangers of DUI driving in Florida. There are warnings online, on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards and signs everywhere you look. You may even see them in your mailbox as part of the latest public information campaign. So why do people continue to drive while intoxicated? It may have something to do with what psychologists call desensitization.

Dr. Lindsay Bira, a clinical health psychologist, describes desensitization as a loss of emotional reaction following repetitive contact with a stimulus. Therapists use it to treat people with disorders such as PTSD or phobias. By gradually exposing them to the situation or event that causes fear, their brain learns that it not dangerous after all and the body's fearful reactions calms.

How do you get your license back?

Sometimes you may not realize just how much you rely on your ability to drive in Fort Myers until you lose your license. A license suspension or revocation can happen for any number of reasons. You may have unpaid traffic or parking fines, have accrued to many driving penalty points, or have been found to have visual impairments that affect your driving ability. Of course, being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs results in an automatic revocation of your driving privileges. Whatever the reason why you lost your license, you are no doubt in a hurry to get it back. So what do you need to do in order to do so? 

The first and most obvious requirement is to complete your suspension period. If your license has been suspended due to unpaid fines or vision issues, then it can be reinstated as soon as you satisfy those fines or show that you have corrective lenses (or have taken action needed to address your vision issues). In cases where you have lost your license because of too many penalty points, you typically have to wait between 3 months to 1 year. The time required to wait before applying to have your license reinstated following a DUI is as follows: 

  • First offense: 1 year
  • Second offense: 5 years
  • Additional offenses: 10 years

The reality of a fatal dui crash

A drink or two on a night out typically raises no concern among most Floridians. However, when drinking and driving involve an accident, the situation can unfold into months and even years of investigations, court dates and fees. There are often many sides to an incident involving drunk driving and car wrecks, as seen in a number of recent events. 

For one 22-year-old Florida man, one mistake has led to months of legal procedures. As Northwest Florida Daily News reported last week, despite Cody Shirah's attempts to convince the jury of giving him a more lenient sentence, he now faces a 60-year prison sentence for the deaths of four Ohio softball players. The four men were visiting the area and had been driving in a van when Shirah plowed through a stop sign, hitting them and killing two men instantly -- the other two players died later at a nearby hospital. Shirah claimed to have only drank two beers before the accident took place, then leaving and becoming involved in an altercation with another driver whom he allegedly clipped while returning home. 

The reality of refusing a breathalyzer test in florida

Sometimes, just one short drive home can become the start of a long, drawn out process of legal fees and court dates. Like most states, Florida strictly enforces its breathalyzer laws, but not every driver who rolls down their window to a test is guilty of driving while under the influence. Just a small drink or two can result in months, and even years, of repercussions. With these potentially crucial penalties, what are drivers' rights in the case they are presented with a breathalyzer test in the state?

In the wake of the horrific Parkland shooting earlier this month, Business Insider takes a look at the ways the state has grappled to reduce preventable death. Taking an interesting turn, Insider examines traffic safety and substance abuse, pointing out that they claim countless lives each year. Some states have taken steps toward making breathalyzer tests even more effective, such as South Dakota's "the great promise of 24/7 sober," a policy that holds DUI offenders accountable with twice daily breathalyzer tests -- if drivers blow above a 0.0, they could land in jail for one night. Business Insider lauds these recent preventative methods, claiming that they not only help reduce drunk driving, but can also cut domestic violence and reduce deaths. 

Is underage drinking really a serious issue?

Regardless of the setting, the law states that underage drinking at any level is unacceptable. Yet countless young Floridians face serious penalties each year for just one misstep -- a misstep that could result in major fines and even jail time. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in such a situation, but many may wonder, is underage drinking really a pervasive problem among today's younger generations?

A 2016 article from CNN appears to ask a similar question, bringing to attention the fact that parents can have varying views of their childrens' maturity. Some parents agree to underage drinking only in certain, supervised situations, such as family holidays or special occasions. However, U.S. law does not take these decisions lightly, arguing that kids may get a misguided message on drinking responsibly. Some parents counter this argument by noting that giving children room to experiment before leaving for college can allow them to make better decisions when alone. Health experts highlighted in the CNN report add that children who drink at earlier ages have higher chances of developing addictions later in life, and that underage drinking can also negatively affect the developing brain.

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