In Tampa, Florida, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge is a serious offense. If you are facing a first time DUI, then you will be asking yourself, “Is a DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?”. However, the answer to your question depends heavily on the details and circumstances of your case. The laws in Florida can be difficult to navigate on your own, and a skilled criminal defense lawyer will be of great value and support to you.
According to Florida Statute 316.193, a driver can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if they are in full physical control of the vehicle while drunk or intoxicated behind the wheel. Intoxication includes the usage of chemical substances as set in Florida Statute 877.111, such as illicit drugs, prescription drugs, or even over the counter medication.
It is worth noting that the driver can also face prosecution with a DUI, even if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is not at 0.08%. All the state needs to prove is that the driver’s ability to control the vehicle was impaired by the usage of drugs, alcohol, or possibly even both at the same time.
If you were under arrest for drunk driving and received a DUI in Tampa, then you will need a criminal defense lawyer to help you understand and navigate the laws around a DUI. It is important that you take your DUI case seriously and accept responsibility, as this will reflect well on your character in front of the court. Most likely, you will be facing a misdemeanor DUI for a first-time offense. It is essential that you hire the services of an attorney in Tampa to fight your charges.
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of collective experience in managing and defending DUI cases for clients in Tampa and across the State of Florida. Our team of skilled defense attorneys understands that one honest mistake shouldn’t result in the loss of your driver’s license, and we want to ensure that you receive a reasonable outcome for your case. Our defense lawyers will conduct an in-depth investigation and build a strong DUI defense case to present in front of the court. Reach out and contact The Law Place now to schedule a free consultation on (941) 444-4444 if you wish to receive the best legal advice in Tampa.
What Is a DUI in Tampa, FL?
Driving under the influence, also known as a DUI, is a driver who is operating a motor vehicle while drunk behind the wheel.
Driving while intoxicated, otherwise known as a DWI, is usually a driver who is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated through the usage of drugs, either prescription drugs or illegal street drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. A DWI is equal to a DUI, and it can be used interchangeably. The use of one or the other depends on the preference of the police officer who caught the driver or the court official.
In other words, a DUI or DWI basically means that your everyday driving and normal senses were impaired by taking drugs or alcohol.
Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of over .08 is a criminal charge. Minors can also be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at 0.2, the equivalent of a single drink. Florida is recognized as a zero-tolerance state when it comes to underage drinking and driving.
A DUI is commonly recognized as a misdemeanor. However, if other drug charges are being held against the driver, then a misdemeanor DUI can quickly escalate into a felony DUI, which has much more serious consequences in Tampa, Florida. For example, being caught in possession of prescription or other illegal street drugs.
Steps to Take Immediately After a DUI Arrest
A DUI arrest can be a disorienting and stressful experience. However, the actions taken immediately post-arrest can significantly influence the outcome of the case. Here’s what you should consider:
- Stay Calm and Compliant – It’s essential to remain calm, even if you believe the arrest is unjustified. Arguing or resisting can lead to additional charges. Cooperate with the arresting officer, but remember you have rights.
- Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent – You have the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Politely inform the officer that you choose not to answer questions without an attorney present.
- Document the Arrest – As soon as it’s possible, jot down everything you remember about the events leading to the arrest. This includes where you were, what you consumed, the behavior of the law enforcement officer, any field sobriety tests administered, and anything else that seems relevant. This account can be invaluable later.
- Seek Legal Counsel – Contacting a lawyer should be a top priority. An attorney familiar with DUI cases can provide guidance, protect your rights, and help navigate the complexities of the legal process.
- Decline Chemical Tests Carefully – In Florida, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or other chemical tests, but doing so comes with consequences, such as a suspended license. It’s a judgment call, but be aware of the potential ramifications.
- Notify Your Insurance Company – Some insurance policies require notification of any arrests. It’s crucial to review your policy and inform your insurer if necessary.
- Consider Getting Evaluated – If you believe you might have an issue with alcohol, consider seeking an evaluation or counseling. Demonstrating proactive behavior can sometimes be seen favorably by courts.
It’s essential to remember that a DUI arrest doesn’t equate to a conviction. By taking these steps and working with knowledgeable legal counsel, you can position yourself for the best possible outcome.
The Laws on DUI in Tampa, Florida
Most first time DUI cases that don’t involve any ‘special case’ factors, such as bodily injury or death, will likely be prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense in Tampa. If a first or second DUI charge is filed as a felony DUI, then this will be due to the intoxicated driver causing serious damage and injury to another person.
Penalties for a first misdemeanor DUI in Tampa, Florida
- A fine of up to $1,000.
- A prison sentence of up to six months.
- A driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
- A DUI probation.
- Attending DUI school.
If you were caught driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time in Tampa, Florida, you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor DUI. However, there are four other ways that a DUI could be charged as a felony offense.
Receiving a Third DUI Charge Within 10 Years
If a driver was caught drunk driving for a third time within a period of ten years, then they will be guilty of a third-degree felony. The punishments include a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.
Receiving a Fourth DUI Charge
If a driver is convicted of committing a fourth DUI offense, regardless of the time passed between their previous convictions, then they will be charged guilty of a third-degree felony. The punishments include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years of jail time.
A DUI Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury
If an impaired driver is caught drunk driving and this results in an accident that caused bodily injury to another person, then the driver will be charged with a third-degree felony. The punishments include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail. In addition, the guilty driver might have to pay compensation for the injured person’s damages, such as medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of income.
If an intoxicated driver is at fault for the wrongful death of another person or child, then the guilty driver will be charged with a DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony. The punishments include a fine of up to $10,000 and up to fifteen years in prison. Like a DUI accident involving bodily injury, the guilty driver will pay compensation for the person who was killed in the accident, such as covering funeral expenses, etc.
Understanding the Impact of a DUI Conviction on Your Record in Tampa, FL
A DUI conviction isn’t just about the immediate legal penalties you might face. It has a lasting effect on your record, which can lead to numerous personal and professional setbacks. Let’s explore these impacts in detail:
- Criminal Record – A DUI conviction goes on your criminal record, which can be accessed during background checks, affecting opportunities for future employment or rentals.
- Insurance Premiums – Post-DUI, your insurance premiums can skyrocket, often making it unaffordable or leading to coverage denial.
- Professional Licensing – Some professions, especially those in healthcare, law enforcement, or that require driving, might have rules against hiring individuals with DUI convictions.
- Travel Restrictions – Some countries, like Canada, can deny entry to individuals with a DUI on their record.
- Educational Impact – Many colleges or universities might deny admission or revoke scholarships based on DUI convictions.
Were you or someone you know under arrest for DUI, and now you are feeling uncertain about the future? Then we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from a reputable law firm as soon as possible to minimize the consequences of your case in Tampa, Florida.
If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI charge, then most likely, the repercussions are being felt by your family and friends. In addition, your job might even be at risk. A conviction for a DUI would also affect your insurance premiums as well.
Our team of defense lawyers can challenge the legitimacy of the facts, and potentially get your DUI charges reduced, and in some cases, even avoid a DUI conviction. Contact us now for a free consultation, and we will fight for your future together in Tampa, Florida.
The Emotional and Social Impact of a DUI in Tampa, FL
The aftermath of a DUI arrest and potential conviction isn’t just legal and financial; it can be deeply emotional and socially isolating. Many individuals feel a strong sense of shame, regret, or embarrassment after being arrested for DUI.
This emotional toll can be especially severe if the incident led to an accident or injury. Beyond personal feelings, there’s the challenge of explaining the situation to family, friends, and employers. Relationships can be strained, especially if loved ones feel betrayed or endangered by the individual’s actions. There can also be an impact on one’s social reputation.
Many find themselves the subject of gossip or judgment from others in their community or workplace. It’s essential to seek support during these challenging times, whether through counseling, support groups, or open conversations with loved ones.
Rehabilitation and Recovery After a DUI in Tampa, FL
Receiving a DUI can be a wake-up call for many, signaling that it might be time to address potential substance abuse issues. While the legal consequences of a DUI are daunting, the incident can serve as an impetus for positive change.
Numerous rehabilitation programs and therapy options are available in Tampa, FL, that focus on alcohol and drug addiction. These programs can provide the necessary tools and support to prevent future incidents and promote healthier life choices.
Engaging in such programs can also demonstrate to the court and the State Attorney’s Office a genuine commitment to change, which might influence the outcome of a case or the severity of penalties. If you believe you or a loved one might benefit from rehabilitation, consider reaching out to local Tampa resources or consulting with a DUI attorney for recommendations.
What Tests Are Used to Prove a DUI in Tampa, FL?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has many different kinds of DUI tests that they can use as a way to prove if a driver is guilty of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The list of DUI tests includes:
- Coordination exams – If a driver is drunk, then a coordination exam is a quick method to prove it. A police officer will ask for the driver to get out of the car and order them to balance on one foot or try walking in a straight line. The test is a quick-fire way to see if the driver can fulfill the task without losing their balance or tripping over themselves.
- Verbal exams – If a driver is not under the influence, then they should be able to succeed in a verbal exam. A police officer will ask the driver to repeat the alphabet backward or complete another kind of verbal test to see if the driver slurs over their words or experiences cognitive difficulty when trying to fulfill the task.
- Breathalyzer test – If a driver is pulled over by a police officer, then most likely, they will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. The driver will have to breathe into the breathalyzer device, as this will prove if the driver is drunk by measuring the alcohol in the driver’s mouth.
- HGN test – In other words, horizontal gaze nystagmus. A police officer will ask the driver to be still as they shine a light on the driver’s eyes to test their response to the brightness.
- Blood/urine test – If the driver denies being drunk or under the influence of drugs, then this can easily be proven by asking the driver to take a blood or urine chemical test at the local police station or at a specialized testing vehicle. The blood alcohol content (BAC) or chemical substances in the driver’s body can then be measured accurately.
Under Florida law, you technically have the right to refuse to take an exam or test by a police officer. Although, the implied consent law states that your driver’s license will be taken away from you for up to one year, as stated in Florida Statute 316.1932.
A skilled attorney in Tampa might help minimize your DUI charges by challenging the accuracy of the tests you took. It is essential that you have a strong DUI defense to make your case in front of the court. However, the only way to achieve this is to hire the services of an adept criminal defense lawyer from The Law Place in Tampa, Florida.
Understanding BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
Blood Alcohol Content, commonly known by its acronym, BAC, is a measure used to determine the amount of alcohol present in an individual’s bloodstream. Essentially, it represents the percentage of alcohol in one’s blood. For instance, a BAC of 0.08 means there are 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood.
The significance of the .08 limit stems from numerous scientific studies that consistently highlight impairment in cognitive and motor skills at this level. As alcohol concentration in the blood rises, so does the degree of impairment. By the time most individuals reach a BAC of 0.08, their reaction times are slowed, and their judgment is compromised, making driving a risky proposition.
Various factors can influence BAC. Body weight plays a pivotal role. Generally, individuals who weigh more can consume a larger quantity of alcohol before reaching a BAC of 0.08, as compared to lighter individuals. However, weight is not the sole determiner. The rate at which alcohol is consumed, the presence of food in the stomach which can slow alcohol absorption, gender, and even metabolic rate can all affect how quickly one reaches a given BAC level.
It’s also worth noting that even small amounts of alcohol can impact driving ability. This is especially true for inexperienced drinkers or those on certain medications. Thus, the safest course of action is not to drive if one has consumed any amount of alcohol.
Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Get a DUI Case Dismissed in Tampa, FL?
The Law Place has a wealth of experience in handling DUI cases in Tampa and across the State of Florida. We have years of experience in helping clients who were under arrest for drunk driving or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. A lawyer from our firm will be able to examine your case and judge the best method in moving forward. A lawyer will also strengthen your DUI defense in hopes of getting your DUI charges reduced and avoiding conviction.
A course of action often used by DUI lawyers includes taking the evidence used against you and using it to your advantage by arguing the legitimacy of the facts and evidence presented by a police officer or other contributing party. A highly trained lawyer will be able to confront:
- Field sobriety tests – It is mandatory that a field sobriety test being executed by a police officer must be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Florida.
- Process of arrest – An adept lawyer might be able to prove that a police officer pulled you over on the road illegally and without a valid reason or warrant for suspicion. In this case, evidence provided by the police officer might be deemed as inadmissible.
- Recorded observations – It is required that a police officer takes official notes if they make a traffic stop and pull a driver over on the road. A skilled lawyer could prove that the police officer’s observations are false and invalid.
- Blood alcohol tests – It is mandatory that a chemical test, including a blood test or a breathalyzer test, is administered with recognized and acknowledged consent.
Is a DUI Lawyer Worth It in Tampa, FL?
If you were under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI), then hiring the skills of a lawyer would be extremely worthwhile. There are a number of reasons to explain the necessity of hiring the experience and knowledge of a lawyer in Tampa, Florida. Your lawyer will be able to explain the process to you, conduct an in-depth investigation into your case, and fight for your legal rights.
The value that an adept lawyer will bring to your case is unquestioned, as they will be able to reduce your DUI charges and help you avoid conviction, regardless of if you are facing your first DUI or not. The expenses to hire a DUI attorney might seem a lot to you, but you will be facing an even bigger risk and even bigger charges if you are convicted without an attorney’s help and support.
The consequences are much more severe than you might realize now, as going up against the court is a heavy burden to bear on your own. In addition, receiving a hefty fine and the loss of your driver’s license will outweigh the price of hiring an attorney’s skills and guidance.
The Law Place has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to managing DUI cases and helping clients across the State of Florida who are facing driving under the influence charges. We are aware that sometimes even good people make mistakes that they can’t take back, and we want to help fight for your rights together. Our team of skilled lawyers is ready to answer all of your questions and prepare a strong DUI defense for you. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today. Reach out and contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers will be waiting to hear from you.
What Happens if I Don’t Hire a DUI Attorney in Tampa, FL?
If you are unable to afford the costs of an attorney in Tampa, then you are entitled to hire the services of a public defender to assist your case. A public defender will be supplied and paid for by the State of Florida to help you. However, if possible, the skills and knowledge that an attorney can provide are irreplaceable, and it really will make all the difference for your DUI case.
In the event that you choose not to hire legal aid, then you are totally defenseless in the face of the prosecution, and your fate will ultimately be decided by the verdict of the court, judge, and jury. It is possible for you to argue with the court by yourself, but without the necessary knowledge of Florida’s laws, it is highly unlikely that you will succeed in beating a DUI case.
DUI Checkpoints: Know Your Rights in Tampa, FL
DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are a common tool used by the Tampa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in Florida to catch impaired drivers. However, it’s vital to understand your rights during these encounters:
- Right to Remain Silent – If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you’re under no obligation to admit to drinking or using drugs. Politely state that you wish to remain silent.
- Searches Require Consent or Probable Cause – A law enforcement officer can’t search your vehicle without your consent unless they have probable cause to believe there’s evidence of a crime inside.
- Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer – Florida’s implied consent law does mean refusal can result in a license suspension, but sometimes it may be in your best interest to refuse if you believe the results could incriminate you. However, consult with an attorney on this matter.
- Legal Representation – If you’re arrested at a DUI checkpoint, you have the right to consult with a DUI defense attorney before answering any questions.
It’s essential to remain calm, polite, and respectful during any encounter with the Tampa Police Department or any other law enforcement agency. Should you feel your rights were violated during a DUI checkpoint stop, note all details and contact an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer immediately.
Why Choose The Law Place in Tampa, FL?
Navigating the intricate waters of the legal world can be daunting, especially when it comes to matters as sensitive and complex as DUI charges. The Law Place stands out as a beacon of guidance and support for those in need in Tampa, FL.
Firstly, our extensive experience in handling DUI cases provides clients with a depth of knowledge that’s hard to find elsewhere. Our years in the field mean we’ve seen a vast array of cases, each with its unique challenges. This wealth of experience ensures we’re well-equipped to handle even the most complicated situations.
At The Law Place, we prioritize open communication. We believe that a well-informed client is an empowered one. Thus, from the moment you walk through our doors, we ensure clarity in every discussion, breaking down legal jargon and ensuring you’re always in the loop about the proceedings of your case.
Beyond our legal acumen, our team understands the emotional toll such cases can take on an individual and their loved ones. We don’t just represent you legally; we support you emotionally, ensuring you never feel alone during the process. Our compassionate approach ensures that you’re seen not just as a case, but as a person with genuine concerns, fears, and aspirations.
Furthermore, The Law Place places a strong emphasis on ethical representation. We’re not here to provide short-term solutions or quick fixes. Instead, we strive for what’s right, pushing for outcomes that are just and fair.
Lastly, our collaborative approach sets us apart. While you’ll have a dedicated attorney for your case, our collaborative ethos means that you benefit from the collective insights and strategies of our entire team. This holistic approach ensures that no stone is left unturned, and every possible avenue is explored in your defense.
In choosing The Law Place, you’re not just choosing legal representation; you’re choosing a partner who will stand by you every step of the way. We’re more than just a law firm; we’re a commitment to your future in Tampa, FL.
tampa misdemeanor dui lawyer, FAQ
How much does a DUI lawyer cost in Florida?
The cost of hiring a DUI lawyer in Florida can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the case and the attorney’s experience. Typically, an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer might charge anywhere from a flat fee to an hourly rate. It’s essential to discuss fees upfront and understand all potential costs.
Should I get a lawyer for a DUI in Florida?
Absolutely. A DUI arrest can have significant legal and personal repercussions. Having an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer by your side can help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system, potentially reduce penalties, and even challenge the validity of the DUI arrest.
How do I win a DUI case in Florida?
Winning a DUI case often involves challenging the evidence, the manner in which it was collected, or the procedures followed by the law enforcement officer during the arrest. An adept DUI defense attorney will scrutinize every detail, from the validity of the traffic stop to the calibration of breathalyzers, to build a strong defense.
How much does a DUI in Florida cost?
Beyond legal fees, a DUI in Florida can come with various costs. These might include fines, court costs, probation fees, increased insurance rates, and costs associated with mandatory DUI programs or community service. It’s essential to factor in all these potential expenses when considering the overall impact of a DUI.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Tampa?
While you can technically refuse a breathalyzer test, Florida’s implied consent law means that refusal could result in an immediate license suspension. Additionally, the refusal can be used against you in court by the state attorney’s office.
What are the penalties for a first-time DUI in Florida?
First-time DUI offenses can result in fines, probation, community service, DUI school, vehicle impoundment, and even jail time. The severity of penalties often depends on the specifics of the incident and the presence of aggravating factors.
How long will a DUI stay on my record in Florida?
A DUI conviction in Florida is permanent. While some states allow for the expungement of DUI records after a specific period, Florida does not. This makes it even more critical to consult with a DUI defense attorney after an arrest.
Can the Tampa Police Department arrest me for DUI even if I’m below the legal limit?
Yes, if a law enforcement officer believes your normal faculties are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, you can be arrested for DUI, even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit.
What is the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Florida?
In Florida, the legal BAC limit is 0.08% for drivers over 21. For commercial drivers, it’s 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, it’s 0.02%.
What happens if I’m from out-of-state and get a DUI in Tampa?
An out-of-state DUI arrest can be particularly complicated. Florida will report the DUI to your home state, which might then impose its own penalties. It’s vital to consult a local Tampa DUI lawyer to understand the implications in both states.
Contact One of Our Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Law Place Now
Were you held under arrest for being intoxicated while behind the wheel? Have you previously heard about the severe consequences that drivers who receive a DUI charge face? Are you worried or concerned about your future because of a DUI charge?
There is no need to fret any longer, as you can hire a skilled lawyer from The Law Place to be at your side and help fight your charges. With over 75 years of collective experience, our law firm has had the privilege of helping clients in Tampa and across the State of Florida to fight their DUI charges and protect their driving rights. Our team of lawyers is prepared to pull out all the stops in order to defend you in court. We empathize with your situation, and we want to help your case in any way that we can.
If you are looking for the best legal advice, then look no further. Reach out and contact The Law Place for a free consultation, and we will do everything in our power to get your DUI charges reduced or possibly even dropped in Tampa. In our free consultation, we will offer you some honest advice, discuss your available options, and talk about potential DUI defense strategies that we could use to fight your case.
Our phone lines are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week so that our team of Tampa DUI lawyers can be there for you when you need it the most. Call us now on (941) 444-4444, for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney today.