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,
For a free legal consultation with a misdemeanor dui lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
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.
- DUI Manslaughter – 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.
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.
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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.
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Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Get a DUI Case Dismissed in Tampa, FL?
The Law Place specializes 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 professional 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.
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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 expertise.
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.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney 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 professional and 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 lawyers can be there for you when you need it the most. We have years of experience in managing DUI cases from across the State of Florida, so don’t hesitate to call us now on (941) 444-4444, and we will be at your side, fighting for your future together.
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