Being charged with a DUI is a serious and complex process. Despite this, some people might think they can beat it without the help of a lawyer. While this can happen, your chances of getting DUI charges dropped or reduced are much higher if you hire a qualified attorney to defend your case. Challenging evidence, finding fault in due process, and arguing your case in court is best done by a lawyer with experience fighting DUI’s.
The Law Place is here to help you win. No matter the circumstances of your DUI, we will do everything in our power to get your case dismissed. We have over 75 years of combined experience fighting for clients just like you. Our investigators will thoroughly examine the evidence against you and come up with the best possible defense strategy for your case. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys who will give you the legal advice you need to confidently move forward with your DUI defense.
Schedule your free consultation with us now to find out your options and start the fight against your DUI case.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444.
DUI: Driving Under the Influence
Before you consult a lawyer, you should understand what qualifies as a DUI and what the consequences might be for one.
DUI arrests occur when motorists are found to be driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) over .08, the legal limit set out by Florida Statute 316.193. This is a type of criminal and administrative charge that can result in strict penalties for offenders. DUI charges also apply to both illicit and prescription drug use while operating a motor vehicle but is a separate offense from other drug charges.
First and second DUI’s are typically treated as misdemeanor crimes but still carry harsh punishments. Third and fourth DUI’s are automatically classed as felonies if previous DUI’s occurred within the past 10 years of the arrest. The punishments for felonies are much worse.
Police can perform roadside tests to ensure drivers are abiding by the law. There may be drunk driving checkpoints put in place where all vehicles are screened, or officers may pull over a driver suspected of being under the influence separately. Florida trains police to spot the signs of intoxication, such as swerving, speeding, and other forms of reckless driving.
All motorists are liable for DUI testing. This is known as Florida’s implied consent law, detailed by Florida Statute 316.1932. Officers may subject motorists to a breath test or coordination exams meant to prove intoxication. Refusal to consent to field sobriety tests result in an immediate license suspension and the possibility of spending the night in jail.
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First and second DUI’s are charged as misdemeanors unless a serious injury has occurred as a result of the driver’s actions. The Legal Information Institute defines misdemeanors as a crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail.
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies, but still pose a big financial and punitive risk to the defendant. You should still seek the aid of a qualified attorney if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI.
Misdemeanor DUI’s can result in the following consequences:
- Community service
- Court-mandated AA meetings
- Fines ($500 to $1,000, or $1,000 to $2,000 for a BAC over.15)
- Driving school
- Jail-time (up to 6 months or 9 months for BAC over .15)
- License suspension (6 to 12 months)
Second-offense DUI’s may carry heavier punishments including but not limited to:
- Mandatory 10-day jail sentence
- Maximum of a one-year jail sentence
- Fines ($1,000 to $2,000 or $2,000 to $4,000 for a BAC over .15)
- License suspension for a maximum of 5 years
- Installation of an IID (ignition interlock device)
Third and fourth DUI’s, or DUI’s resulting in a serious injury, may result in a felony offense. The LII defines a felony crime as punishable by more than one year. Prosecution and judges alike do not favor individuals with multiple DUI convictions on their record and typically pursue the full extent of the law to make an example.
Felony DUI’s can result in:
- Permanent license suspension
- Prison sentence (maximum of 15-years for the most serious offenders)
- Maximum $10,000 fine
Felony DUI sentencing will take place after a probation court hearing if the defendant is found guilty. You will need a lawyer for all parts of this process.
Some DUI cases are not presented before a judge but negotiated between the prosecutor and the defense. Prosecutors especially will pursue every avenue against you so that it reflects well on their record.
Contact The Law Place today if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI. It is nearly impossible to beat a DUI without the legal knowledge of a qualified criminal defense attorney.
Is a DUI Lawyer Worth It?
The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. Only a qualified criminal defense attorney can know the ins and outs of a drunk driving charge and the court process attached to it.
If you want to beat a DUI, your best chances lie in the hands of The Law Place and our team of lawyers.
The associated cost of a lawyer can be far less than the fines you may face in court alone, as well as the potential hit to your reputation and livelihood should you be convicted. A DUI arrest can have far-reaching consequences that you may not fully understand before they are felt. A criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process step-by-step and ensure you are aware of the legal and social repercussions you may experience.
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What Happens If You Don’t Get a Lawyer for a DUI?
If you choose not to hire a lawyer to fight your DUI case, you are still entitled to a public defender provided by and paid for by the state of Florida. You can choose to waive your right to an attorney, although this is not recommended.
You are entirely at the mercy of the prosecution and the verdict of the court if you don’t have an attorney to defend your case. If you lack comprehensive legal knowledge of Florida law, you are unlikely to beat a DUI on your own.
How Long Does It Take for DUI Charges to Be Filed?
The time it takes for the court system to process your case may depend on where you live. If you reside in a rural area, it may take no time at all due to the relatively low population.
Metropolitan areas like Miami-Dade, Tampa, or Jacksonville might take one year to get to your case. The high population density and the number of DUI cases have a noted effect on how quickly the court can cycle its caseload.
A lawyer will be able to speed up the processing of your DUI charges in most instances. Individuals without a lawyer typically don’t have the power to change the court docket and have their case moved up the list.
Contact The Law Place to speak with a DUI defense attorney to see how quickly your case can be processed.
Can a Lawyer Get My DUI Dismissed?
There are some ways to get DUI charges dismissed, even if you have failed field sobriety tests and were driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 legal limit. Certain strategies can be employed by yourself or your DUI attorney to contest the legitimacy of the charges against you and the court’s processing of your case.
Some of those ways are by fighting the following:
- Illegal stop, search, or seizure – If the police stop, which resulted in your DUI arrest, was made illegally, and without justification, you can have the entire case thrown out of court.
- Results of field sobriety tests – You may be able to contest the results of tests done by officers in the field. If test results were recorded inaccurately or sloppily, you might have recourse to have them deemed inadmissible.
- Blood alcohol test results – Although measuring someone’s blood alcohol level is considered the most accurate way to determine intoxication, blood must be taken in a legally specific way to be admissible in court. If a police officer did not get consent to have the test taken in the case of serious injury, it might be thrown out as evidence.
- Results of a breath test – If you have a medical condition that might affect the result of a breathalyzer exam, you may be able to have the results nullified.
- Observations made by an officer after a police stop – Police are required to record their observations made during an arrest. You can contest the legitimacy of these observations in court.
Without a qualified DUI attorney, you may not be able to adequately contest the evidence provided by the prosecution.
What Do You Say to a Judge at a DUI Sentencing?
If you choose to pursue your case without a lawyer and are convicted of a DUI, the next step in the court process will be your sentencing. A sentencing hearing is where the judge determines the length and severity of your punishment. Knowing what to say to the judge is critical to ensuring a favorable outcome. If you are asked to speak at your hearing, The Law Place advises you to express the following:
- Apologize – It is important to voice remorse for your actions. If you are unapologetic during your hearing, the judge will not look favorably upon your sentence. No one wants to hear excuses.
- State your circumstances – If there are extenuating circumstances for your arrest and conviction, the judge may be lenient towards you. This can include a long-time drug or alcohol addiction that you are actively struggling with and seeking treatment for or a traumatic event that caused you to drink and drive in the first place.
- What you have learned – Tell the judge that you have learned your lesson from this experience and showcase the steps you are taking to avoid any similar event from occurring again.
- Evidence of completion of sentencing requirements – You may be served with certain requirements to be completed before your sentencing hearing. These can include AA meetings, a clinical substance abuse assessment, and confirmation of attendance to probation hearings. It is important to show you are proactive in your treatment and involved in your DUI process.
A DUI attorney will coach you through this process, reminding you every step of the way the right things to say and do. Without one, the smallest misstep or a wrong word can land you in jail, with huge fines to pay. A lawyer can’t prevent all the consequences of a DUI, but they can mitigate the potential damage to your reputation, career, and criminal record.
If you can’t beat your DUI, it is important to know what to do and say to shore up the consequences of the court’s decision.
Hire a Qualified DUI Attorney at The Law Place Today
Have you been involved in a drunk driving incident? Are you unsure of whether you need to hire a lawyer to defend you?
Contact The Law Place today to schedule a free consultation with our qualified DUI criminal defense attorneys. Our entire team works together on every case. A thorough examination of the evidence against you will ensure the best defense strategy possible against your charges.
Don’t leave it entirely up to the court to decide your fate. Protect yourself with the help of our qualified DUI attorneys and get the best legal advice on the market.
Call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444.