White sand beaches, tropical resorts, and otherworldly diving spots make Clearwater an incredible place to live or vacation. However, Clearwater, FL, is also a hot spot for drinking and driving, making it an ideal location for police to arrest individuals found over the limit.
Whether you have just been caught drinking one too many beers, or you have been cited with a serious drunk driving charge, you should understand your legal rights and what the consequences might be if you are convicted.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Clearwater, FL, or the surrounding areas, call The Law Place attorneys today. We offer a free consultation with qualified DUI lawyers so you can understand the charges against you and what you can do about them.
Our attorneys have over 75 years of experience and work together on every case. Our law firm will provide a thorough and varied approach to your DUI charges that will have you feeling secure in no time.
Our law firm handles both personal injury and criminal defense and our lines are open 24/7, and we are always available to take your call. Contact The Law Place, Clearwater, FL, attorneys to start preparing your DUI defense now.
What Is a DUI?
Everyone should understand what qualifies as a DUI. The Legal Information Institute defines DUI (driving under the influence) as a criminal DUI charge leveled against motorists found driving over the legal limit of alcohol consumption, or under the undue influence of legal or illicit drugs. In Clearwater, FL, the term DWI (driving while intoxicated) may be used in the same context.
DUI is also an administrative charge stemming from the Department of Motor Vehicles. License suspension is automatic when an individual is charged with a DUI, even if they have not been convicted.
Police officers are within their rights to test motorists for alcohol consumption. If a driver tests above the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit of .08, they can be arrested and charged with drunk driving. Similarly, blood or urine tests may be used to determine if motorists have been using drugs and, if so, be charged with a DUI, in addition to possible drug charges.
What Types of DUI Are There?
Clearwater DUI charges are broken down into misdemeanor and felony offenses. What manner of DUI you are charged with will depend on the incident in question.
If this is your first or second DUI, and there was no serious injury or property damage, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
According to the State of Florida, consequences of a misdemeanor DUI can include:
- Community service
- Court-mandated AA meetings
- Fines ($500 to $1,000 for a first conviction, $1,000 to $2,000 for a second)
- Driving school
- Jail-time (up to 6 months)
- License suspension (6-12 months)
If your BAC was .15 or there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest, jail time can be increased to a maximum of 9 months.
A third or fourth DUI within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction is a mandatory felony charge under Florida Law. The consequences of a felony charge are much greater than a misdemeanor. Felony trials also typically take a longer time than misdemeanors.
According to Florida Statute 316.193, punishments for a felony DUI may also include:
- Permanent driver’s license suspension
- Prison sentence
- Much larger fines
Felony DUI’s result in a probation hearing. Probation court will determine the length of your potential probation and recommend a sentence to the judge presiding over your case. Violations of probation can result in a return to jail or prison.
Is a DUI Attorney in Clearwater, Florida Worth It?
If you want to mitigate the repercussions of your DUI, you need to get a lawyer. The consequences for a DUI conviction are far-reaching, affecting not only your personal life but your professional life as well. All DUI convictions show up on public records for up to 75 years and can affect your job prospects and any future criminal charges you may face.
The cost of a criminal defense lawyer may seem high, but it is worth it to save your reputation, and possibly your freedom. Although winning your case is not guaranteed, you stand a much better chance with The Law Place by your side.
The Law Place attorneys in Clearwater, FL, are here to help win your DUI case. Schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified lawyers in Clearwater today to discuss your options and find out how you can win your case.
Can a Clearwater, FL Attorney Get My DUI Dismissed?
A DUI lawyer has a decent chance of getting your DUI case dismissed. The State of Florida requires evidence to be collected and handled in a very strict manner. If procedures are not met, the evidence against you may be thrown out.
Your lawyer will look at all aspects of your case and determine if the evidence against you is legitimate. Some of that evidence includes:
- Police records of your arrest
- Your initial traffic stop
- Results from field sobriety tests
- Results from your blood or urine test.
- Your booking and processing after the arrest
Clearwater police often make mistakes, especially in DUI arrests. Your lawyer can use these mistakes to drop the charges against you.
What Happens If I Don’t Get a DUI Attorney in Clearwater?
If you choose not to hire an experienced attorney to defend your case, you will be at the mercy of the courts. Judges often try to make examples of people, and those without attorneys are very vulnerable to a harsh sentence.
A lawyer can help protect you throughout the court process.
Also, the likelihood of your case being dismissed is very low if you do not have a defense attorney. Lawyers have teams of investigators who will look at all the evidence against you to try to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether. The chances are slim that you have the legal knowledge to address inconsistencies in a police report or find illegalities in your arrest.
Don’t leave your fate up to the courts. Contact The Law Place for a free consultation with an attorney in Clearwater, FL, today.
How Much Alcohol Can I Legally Consume Before I Drive?
We always recommend that people do not consume any alcohol before driving. Drinking and driving can be incredibly dangerous both to yourself, anyone in your vehicle, and other road users. Furthermore, the penalties for drinking and driving are incredibly harsh
However, in accordance with the law, you can drink and drive if you can keep your BAC below 0.08%. When you drink alcohol, the particles enter the bloodstream quickly before the liver begins to break them down. Our bodies are only capable of metabolizing so much alcohol per hour, and if someone drinks too much for their body to process, then their BAC will rise.
How much you can drink before your BAC rises depends on how much alcohol is in that specific drink. For example, one beer measures 12 ounces, a shot of whiskey 1.5 ounces, and a small glass of wine is 5 ounces. It is important to be aware of how much you are actually drinking; while two beets over the course of an hour may not feel like a substantial amount, it could raise your BAC above the legal limit.
How Long Will DUI Charges Stay on My Driving Record?
Following a conviction for a DUI, the charge will remain on your driving record for 75 years. For most people, this equates to having a lifetime offense on their record. Considering the implications of having this conviction on your record such as high insurance rates, and the effect on your ability to find employment or even travel to some countries, this seems like a harsh penalty.
Furthermore, a DUI conviction can’t ever be expunged from a criminal record, which means that there are no steps you can take to remove it from your record. If you want to gain a professional license or move into a certain type of work, you may not be able to.
That is why it is so important to seek help from a Clearwater DUI attorney who can work to have your charges dismissed or have your case reduced to reckless driving, which can be expunged.
What Should I Do if I Am Caught Drunk Driving in Clearwater, FL?
If you are caught driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Clearwater, then it is important to stay calm. There are some steps you can take to help protect your rights and strengthen your future defense.
Cooperate with Law Enforcement
It is important to cooperate with law enforcement, if they ask for field sobriety exercises and breath tests, you should comply. Although you can’t be punished for refusing field sobriety tests, you can be for breath tests. A DUI defense lawyer may be able to question the legitimacy of your tests at a later date, but if you make the job of law enforcement difficult, it may work against you.
After an arrest, anything you fo or say could be used against you. We advise you only answer simple questions and stay quite. You have a right not to get legal advise before you answer questions. Avoid giving too much away until you have had the opportunity to consult a Clearwater DUI lawyer. Do not admit fault, apologise, or admit that you have been drinking. If you do, then it will be very difficult for your attorney to have your case reduced or dropped.
Contact The Law Place
The best thing you can do to aid your case is to employ the help fo an experienced DUI attorney. They will use their skills, experience and resources to give you the best chance at avoiding DUI charges, or have them reduced.
Consult The Law Place Clearwater, Florida Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing drunk driving charges, then contact The Law Place DUI lawyers today. We offer exceptional criminal defense and can help protect your driving privileges and livelihood from DUI criminal charges.
Our attorneys have combined legal experience of 75 years and work together on every case, ensuring a thorough and varied strategy for your defense. We help people facing a wide variety of crimes, from DUI cases to sex crimes
We offer a free consultation to anyone facing a conviction for drug crimes. Our DUI lawyers will meet with you and discuss your legal options and potential strategy free of charge.
We are always available to take your call. Our phone lines are open 24/7.