DUIs are considered to be serious offenses under Florida law. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can have serious consequences not only for the person committing the offense but also for other drivers on the road as well as pedestrians. DUI offenses can lead to the offender receiving harsh penalties, including hefty fines, license suspensions, felony charges, and, in some cases, jail time. These offenses stay on the offender’s driving record for 75 years and will remain on their criminal record forever. What’s more, after receiving a criminal record from a DUI, it can be very challenging to secure loans and even find employment in the future.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it is essential to seek professional legal representation. Only the most experienced defense lawyers understand the complexities of the Florida legal system and the legal technicalities within criminal defense law. At The Law Place, our attorneys have a combined experience of 75 years in Florida law and are well-versed in DUI cases. Our team of attorneys knows how life-changing and worrisome receiving a DUI charge can be, which is why we commit to defending our clients in and outside of the courtroom when representing them.
After a free consultation with a member of our team, you will be assigned a top criminal defense lawyer who will assess your case and determine the best approach to tackle your DUI charge. Our DUI defense team knows the best course of action to reduce and maybe even get your charge completely dismissed. We do this by rigorously evaluating the facts and circumstances surrounding your case in order to strengthen your defense as much as possible.
Call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444 for invaluable legal advice and a free case evaluation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
How Is a DUI Defined in St. Petersburg, FL?
A DUI is defined as driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs which can impair the driver’s normal faculties. A breathalyzer or blood test is used to determine whether or not the driver has been driving under the influence. If the driver’s breath or blood alcohol concentration is measured over 0.08%, then under Florida Statute 316.193, the vehicle operator is driving under the influence. If the driver drank alcohol before driving their vehicle, but their blood alcohol concentration is below this number, then they are, in fact, not committing a crime.
Determining how a DUI is defined is essential when considering if a person can be charged with the offense. Florida law states that the person charged with the offense must have been the person operating the vehicle while over the legal blood alcohol content (0.08%). Substances that can impair someone’s driving ability include alcohol, illegal substances such as heroin and cocaine as well as controlled substances, including medicines prescribed by a doctor.
A person driving under the influence is unable to competently drive a vehicle. The following list offers examples of the effects that drug and alcohol consumption can have on a driver:
- Slowed reaction times.
- Bad judgment.
- Difficulty maneuvering the vehicle properly.
- Impaired vision and hearing.
- Reduced concentration.
DUI Laws and Penalties in St. Petersburg, FL.
Just like in most criminal cases in Florida, the penalties for a DUI offense differ depending on each particular case. The punishment given may depend on the offender’s previous convictions and the severity of the case at hand. Nevertheless, when considering punishments, the State of Florida follows certain guidelines for first or second-time DUI offenders. Punishments for a DUI may include:
- Fines – Fines vary depending on the seriousness of the crime committed. However, for first-time offenders, fines usually range from $500 to $1,000. If the offender is found guilty of a second DUI offense, then the fine increases from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $2,000.
- Jail time – If you are convicted of a DUI, it is possible that you will have to spend some time in jail. First-time offenders could be jailed for up to 6 months, whereas second-time offenders could face up to 9 months in prison.
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license – Under Florida Statute 322.28, a first-time DUI offender could have their license suspended for up to 180 days. A second-time offender might have their license suspended for up to 5 years if they were convicted of another DUI within 5 years after their first offense.
- Ignition interlock system – Depending on the case, a DUI offender could be made to have an ignition interlock system fitted to their vehicle. The court will decide how much time the device should be fitted to your vehicle, and this period could last for up to 6 months. For second-time offenders, this period can increase to up to a year. The fitting of this device is mandatory if your blood alcohol content exceeded 0.15% at the time of the blood test.
- Community service – Some offenders are obliged to carry out community service for their offense.
It is important to note that if the offender is charged and convicted for three or more DUI offenses, then the penalties increase significantly as the charge is now classed as a third-degree felony. The penalties for three or more DUI offenses include:
- Fines – A person convicted of three DUI offenses within 10 years can receive fines between $2,000 and $5,000. If a person receives another DUI conviction after the third offense, they will automatically be charged with a third-degree felony and receive a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Jail time – If the person committed their third DUI offense 10 years after their previous conviction, they might be punished to up to 12 months of incarceration. In the case that a person is convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years of their previous convictions, the person may be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. Further DUI convictions will be punishable by up to 5 years in prison regardless of when they occurred.
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license – Anyone convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years after their previous offense may face a license suspension of up to 10 years. Receiving a fourth DUI conviction could lead to a permanent revocation of the license.
- Ignition interlock system – After receiving a third DUI conviction, the court may decide to install an ignition interlock system in the offender’s vehicle, which may have to remain there for up to 2 years. The person convicted of the offense will have to cover the cost of this device.
At The Law Place, we recognize that the Florida legal system can be confusing, especially in criminal law cases involving DUIs. The penalties given in Florida law can be very serious for cases such as these, and offenders often have to pay out thousands of dollars in fines even for a first-time offense. Without an experienced DUI lawyer, you are at risk of receiving the harshest penalties possible in a DUI case. Contact our law firm for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney who can offer guidance and support for your case.
Penalties for DUI Accidents Involving Property Damage or Personal Injury in St. Petersburg, FL.
In the case that driving under the influence resulted in property damage or personal injury, further penalties may be applied to the offender separate from the DUI conviction. If the DUI caused damage to property or injury to another party, the offender might be faced with a misdemeanor charge. This can involve the offender being sentenced to up to a year in jail and receiving a fine of up to $1,000.
If a person is found guilty of causing serious bodily injury while driving under the influence, they may be charged with a third-degree felony. Due to the seriousness of the charge, a third-degree felony can result in a maximum of 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
In the case that a wrongful death occurs while an individual was driving under the influence, the offender can be charged with a second-degree felony of DUI manslaughter. For this type of felony, an individual could face up to 15 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If the person left the scene of the accident without seeking help for a seriously injured person who later died, then that individual could still be charged with DUI manslaughter, which in this case is classed as a first-degree felony. This could lead to up to 30 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 for the offender.
As is the case with any criminal charges, being faced with a DUI charge can be very worrying and stressful. If you have been charged with a DUI in the St. Petersburg area or anywhere in the State of Florida, contact our law office today for a free consultation with one of our highly qualified attorneys. Our criminal defense lawyers understand how daunting these charges can be, which is why we offer constant support and guidance to our clients throughout this often taxing process.
DUI Charges Involving Minors in Florida
In Florida, the laws regarding DUI charges are even stricter for people under the age of 21. As is the case in most states of the U.S., offenses involving minors and underage drinking in Florida are treated very seriously, particularly if the minor drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It is illegal for minors to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol consumption of 0.02% or more. As Florida has a zero-tolerance policy towards minors driving under the influence, the law states that first-time DUI offenders under 21 can have their license suspended for up to six months. In the case that a minor receives a second DUI conviction, the license suspension may be increased to up to one year. Being convicted of a DUI as a minor could hinder your chance of acceptance into certain colleges and make it more difficult to obtain scholarships.
What Is the Legal Process of a DUI Charge in St. Petersburg, FL?
If you have been pulled over and charged with a DUI by a police officer in Florida, we highly recommend seeking an experienced criminal defense lawyer who specializes in DUI charges. Drivers are usually pulled over by an officer if they have reason to believe they are not following the rules of the road. Drivers can be pulled over for running a red light, driving over the speed limit, or failing to signal correctly. If the officer believes you may be intoxicated, you will be asked to take a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test which involves breathing into a small device to determine how much alcohol is in the air you breathe out.
In the case that you refuse to take one of these tests, it is likely that you will be arrested. While in custody, a prosecutor will decide whether to go forward with the charges set against you, which may include driving under the influence. If you are charged, it is very important to get in contact with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. If you decide to let us represent you legally, our team of criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg will review the criminal charges you have been accused of and decide on the best approach to defend you in court. Call our law office today so that we can help protect you from the harsh punishments that usually come as a result of a DUI conviction.
How Can Criminal Defense Lawyers Get a DUI Charge Dismissed in St. Petersburg, FL?
When faced with a DUI charge, it is essential to build a strong defense quickly and efficiently. Our St. Petersburg criminal defense team has many years of experience in dealing with DUI cases, so you can rest assured that your case is being handled by some of the best criminal defense lawyers in Florida and across the country. Our attorneys have plenty of experience in collecting valuable evidence that may have been used against you in order to strengthen your case and reduce or dismiss your DUI charge. This can be done by challenging the legitimacy of the evidence put forward against you. Evidence that can be thoroughly analyzed by a skilled DUI lawyer in order to strengthen your defense includes:
- Process of arrest – In order for a police officer to pull someone over while driving, they must have a reasonable explanation for doing so. If the officer is unable to offer a fair reason for pulling the driver over, then the evidence put forward against the defendant may be invalid. A DUI lawyer will be able to determine whether or not the arrest was legitimate under Florida law.
- Recorded observations – If the police officer failed to take official notes when making the traffic stop, an attorney might be able to get the DUI charge dismissed as the officer did not follow the traffic stop protocol.
- Chemical alcohol tests – A breathalyzer or blood test can only be administered with the verbal consent of the driver. If the driver did not give their consent or felt forced to take the test, the case made against them may be weakened.
- Field sobriety tests – In St. Petersburg, FL., a police officer may carry out a field sobriety test if they have reason to believe the driver in question is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. However, these tests can sometimes be inaccurate and unreliable.
In Florida, Police officers are expected to follow a strict procedure when carrying out traffic stops. In some DUI cases, it can be proved that an officer did not correctly follow the official protocol, which can therefore call into question the legitimacy of the DUI charge brought against the defendant. Defending our clients against these charges is our utmost priority. Call our law firm today for a free consultation with our criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg so that we can start building a strong case for you.
Call The Law Place Today
If you have been charged with a DUI in St. Petersburg, FL., we urge you to contact our law firm as soon as possible. DUI offenses are treated very seriously under Florida law and can be punishable by large fines and even jail time. An experienced St. Petersburg DUI lawyer at The Law Place can offer invaluable advice and make this process as stress-free as possible for you. After handling thousands of DUI cases and getting the best possible outcome for our clients, our criminal defense lawyers have earned their stellar reputation in Florida and across the U.S.
Our criminal law attorneys work tirelessly to ensure that our clients’ DUI charges get reduced or dismissed. Depending on the seriousness of the case, this may not be possible. However, our professional attorneys are very knowledgeable in Florida law and know how to reduce the potential punishments you may face so that you receive the most lenient penalties possible. Having the best and most experienced legal representatives makes all the difference when fighting a DUI charge in court.
Here at The Law Place, we believe in open and frequent communication, which is why our phone lines are open all day, every day, so that you can call our law office whenever it suits you best. Don’t hesitate to call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation with a DUI lawyer and get the legal representation that you deserve.