If you are a commercial driver, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is essential for you to be able to work. Every person in the State of Florida who drives a commercial vehicle is legally obligated to hold a commercial driver’s license. Therefore, if it is taken away for any reason, this could have a huge impact on your life and ability to earn a living.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in St. Petersburg, Florida, you will be facing a license suspension. It is therefore essential that you seek advice from an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you fight your DUI charges. Using their skills and experience, a good DUI lawyer can challenge the way you were arrested or tested for DUI and have your charges dropped.
Call The Law Place today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Our telephone number is (941) 444-4444, and our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Commercial Drivers and DUI Charges
In Florida, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard when driving than non-commercial drivers. This is because a bus driver, for example, is responsible for the safety of all of the passengers in the vehicle, and a commercial truck driver may be carrying dangerous cargo. In addition, commercial vehicles tend to be much larger than standard-sized cars, and therefore have the ability to cause more damage, injuries, and fatalities. Data shows that truck accidents are responsible for the most fatalities resulting from road traffic accidents in the United States.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), commercial drivers cannot drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.04%, which is half the level of an ordinary driver. Furthermore, law enforcement officers can charge a commercial driver with a DUI if they have a blood-alcohol level that is less than 0.04%, as long as they have good reason to believe that their behavior has been impaired either by drugs or alcohol. This is because the law recognizes that operating a commercial vehicle, like a semi-truck, requires more control, physical capacity, and cognitive abilities.
Grounds for a DUI Arrest in St. Petersburg
You may be surprised to learn that your BAC is not the only grounds for a DUI arrest in St. Petersburg, FL. A law enforcement officer can also charge drivers, including CDL holders, with drunk driving if they show any signs of impairment. Although this is a subjective standard, in Florida, an officer can arrest you if:
- They can smell alcohol or drugs in your vehicle or on your breath.
- You struggle to answer their questions or your speech is slurred.
- Your eyes appear to be glazed over.
- They ask you to submit to a field sobriety test, and you perform poorly.
- They see any other signs that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You can even be arrested because there are empty containers of alcohol or drug paraphernalia in your vehicle.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving in St. Petersburg, it is crucial that you speak to a DUI defense lawyer immediately. A qualified attorney can help you to avoid license suspension.
The Penalties for Commercial Drivers for a DUI Conviction in St. Petersburg
If you have been arrested for driving a commercial vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties that you will face will largely depend on how much alcohol you had in your blood at the time of your arrest and whether it is the first offense. There is always a good chance that you will be facing license suspension for up to 1 year from the time you are convicted.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, you will immediately be placed on out-of-service status for 24 hours following a DUI arrest. If you are then successfully convicted, there are additional implications for your CDL, such as:
- Full disqualification of your commercial driver’s license for one year.
- This disqualification would be increased for up to three years if you were transporting hazardous substances at the time of your traffic stop and arrest.
Of course, all of the other penalties for a DUI will also apply to you. Your DUI conviction could also result in:
- A fine of up to $1,000.
- Up to six months in jail.
- Community service.
- An instruction to complete an alcohol evaluation and a treatment program.
- A permanent criminal record.
If you are a commercial driver, you will be aware that losing your license will affect your job immediately. You cannot simply get a taxi or public transport to work because driving is your job. Without a license, you have no job. Even if you get your license reinstated, you will have to convince your previous employer that you can be trusted and are capable of doing the job again. If this doesn’t work out, you may have to apply for other jobs with a DUI conviction on your record.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence whilst operating a commercial vehicle in St. Petersburg or anywhere in Florida, it is vital that you seek legal advice immediately. An experienced lawyer can use their skills and knowledge of Florida law to have your charges reduced or even dismissed, ultimately saving your CDL. For more information, call The Law Place for a free consultation.
Refusal to Submit to a DUI Test in St. Petersburg, Florida
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer in St. Petersburg and refuse to submit to a chemical test, there could be serious consequences. Every driver in Florida has given their implied consent to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine their blood alcohol level, and this includes CDL holders. If you do not submit, your CDL will be automatically suspended, and you will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for one year. You will face license suspension regardless of whether you are actually convicted of driving under the influence.
This is why we strongly advise that if you are stopped by a law enforcement officer and asked to submit to a chemical test, that you comply with this request. If you have already been charged a refusal offense, it is vital that you contact an experienced defense attorney. Call The Law Place now to schedule a free consultation.
Possible Defenses to DUI Charges in St. Petersburg, FL.
At The Law Place, we know that every DUI case is unique and requires a full and thorough investigation. This is the only way that a lawyer will know all of the defense options that are available in your DUI case. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, if your defense has been properly prepared, you could achieve significant reductions in penalties.
Defenses that a DUI defense lawyer could use in your case include:
Suppression of the Evidence
The evidence that is available in your DUI case could be suppressed if it is shown that an improper search and seizure took place. This would mean that the evidence cannot be used against you at trial, making it more difficult or even impossible for the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence.
Suppression of Statements
If you were not read your Miranda warnings or if improper interrogation techniques were used, any statements you gave at the time of your stop and/or DUI arrest could be suppressed. Suppression of your statements or confession could lead to a total dismissal of your DUI charges.
Lack of Physical Evidence
If no physical evidence exists in your DUI case, such as videos, photographs, receipts, tire tracks, etc., a lawyer could succeed in having your DUI charges dropped. Furthermore, a lawyer could have certain physical evidence dismissed if:
- The evidence is not consistent with the crime charged (in this case, DUI).
- Improper procedures were used during the collection of the evidence.
- The evidence was improperly tested or improperly handled.
- There is reason to believe that there were problems with the calibrations and/or insufficient maintenance of the breath test equipment.
- The police department in question is unable to establish a proper chain of physical evidence to ensure that the evidence related to your DUI case wasn’t tampered with.
Lack of or Insufficient Testimonial Evidence
This type of evidence involves any statements given by any victims, witnesses, and/or police officers involved in your DUI case. The defenses that could be used against any testimonial evidence includes:
- Contradictions found between the victim, witnesses, or police officer’s version of events.
- Multiple statements by the same witness, victim, or police officer don’t match or contradict previous statements. For example, contradictions are found between the police officer’s initial testimony and what they wrote in the report.
- The victim, witnesses, or officers involved are not credible or had a motive to fabricate their statement.
- The mental state of any victims, witnesses, or police officers involved.
- The state or defense witnesses were coerced into making the statements.
- The state witnesses necessary to prove the offense are unavailable.
It can be common for law enforcement officers to not thoroughly investigate a case and to conduct improper investigations. Defenses available to you if this is the case include:
- Certain evidence was not collected or tested by law enforcement that could have provided information that supported your innocence.
- Important evidence relating to your DUI case was destroyed by law enforcement.
- The officers involved in your DUI case had a distinct lack of experience or training.
- An inadequate amount of time was spent investigating your DUI case before officers reached the conclusion that you were guilty.
Evidence From the Defendant
An experienced lawyer can help you gather your own evidence to support your DUI defense. This could help to prove your innocence or weaken the state’s case against you. For example:
- An alibi that contradicts the state’s case against you.
- Defense witnesses that help to contradict the state’s version of events.
- Any physical or medical conditions that may have affected your performance or results on any DUI tests.
- Evidence of any bad road, weather, lighting, or mechanical conditions that would affect your ability to drive.
- Evidence of certain conditions or issues with the ground surface/surrounding environment at the time of your DUI arrest that would affect your performance of the Field Sobriety Tests.
According to Florida Statute 775.027, you must be presumed to be sane at the time of the alleged offense to have charges filed against you. Therefore, it is a valid defense to a criminal accusation in Florida that, when you commissioned the DUI offense, you were insane. You would be considered insane if there is evidence that you had/have a ‘mental infirmity, disease, or defect’ and because of this you:
- Did not know what you were doing.
- Did not know the consequences of your actions.
- You did know what you were doing and the consequences, but you did not know that what you were doing was wrong.
According to Florida Statute 777.201, entrapment is when a person, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of a crime, induces, persuades, or encourages someone to engage in illegal behavior that they could have otherwise not engaged in. Entrapment could be conducted by:
- A law enforcement officer.
- An individual engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer.
- An individual acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer.
If it is proven that entrapment occurred in your case, you could be acquitted with the help of the right lawyer.
For more information regarding your possible defense options following a DUI arrest, get in touch with The Law Place. One of our dedicated criminal defense attorneys can give you trusted legal advice during a free consultation.
Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases in the State of Florida
Florida’s statute of limitations sets restrictions for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal criminal charges against you. These restrictions can be found under Florida Statute 775.15.
In some cases, the state may be barred from pursuing you for your crime if:
- The statute of limitations for the criminal charge has expired.
- The state’s time to pursue you has expired according to your right to a speedy trial.
Your exact alleged crime will determine the statute of limitations that is applicable in your particular case. For example, for serious crimes such as murder or a felony that results in death, there is no time limit for filing criminal charges against you. However, for misdemeanors and lesser felonies, there is a statute of limitations of between one and five years.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the laws in Florida will be able to tell you how the statutes of limitations apply in your DUI case. For more information, call The Law Place for a free consultation.
Hiring a St. Petersburg DUI Lawyer Is the Best Option
Because the charges you are facing are so serious and will have such big consequences for you, the only option you have is to fight your DUI charge with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you choose to hire a criminal defense attorney from The Law Place, we will get to work on your DUI case immediately. There are a number of ways in which your DUI arrest may not have been legal and a possibility that your alcohol test is not valid. The blood alcohol tests that are used are actually very unreliable for many reasons, and the testament given by an arresting officer who used field sobriety tests is very subjective and open to criticism. Therefore, there are many ways an experienced lawyer can challenge your DUI charge successfully. With our help, your DUI charge could be dismissed altogether, or a plea bargain could be negotiated.
For more information about how we could help you, contact us for a free case evaluation.
Call The Law Place for a Free Consultation
Florida laws are harsh on motorists who are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), but they are even harsher on drivers who hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). If you operate a large commercial vehicle like a semi-truck, the law holds you to a higher standard because the size of your vehicle has the potential to cause the most devastating traffic accidents.
If you are a commercial driver and you have been arrested for drunk driving in St. Petersburg, FL., you may have already had your license suspended, and it is only going to get worse from here without the right legal support. Contact The Law Place and talk through your defense options with an experienced DUI defense attorney today.
Our telephone number is (941) 444-4444, and our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.