Facing DUI Charges in Florida?
Get a Lakeland DUI defense attorney who knows how to win
Drunk driving is a serious offense that can come with serious repercussions, including suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and even potential jail time. It can affect your career, your family, and your independence. That’s true anywhere, but it’s especially true in Florida, which has famously tough DUI laws.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent charge, there are a few things you need to know. As with any charges you may be faced with, it is always a good idea to seek legal counsel from a qualified Lakeland DUI defense lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system and ensure you are treated fairly and justly by the system. That’s why you need Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law on your side.
What is a DUI charge?
DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence. In Florida, you can be charged with DUI if police have evidence that you operated a vehicle with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or above (0.02 for underage drivers), or if your “normal faculties” were impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Although by far the most common form of DUI is drunk driving, you can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of any substance which impairs your ability to operate a vehicle, including your medical prescription.
Police have the authority to pull over any vehicle which appears to be behaving erratically on the roadway. This is the most common way in which impaired drivers are identified and DUI charges are issued.
Types of DUI charges in Florida
Not all DUI charges are the same. DUI charges can vary in severity based on the details of the incident. Additional charges such as reckless driving can also be applied.
While a first DUI offense is generally a misdemeanor charge, it can still result in significant fines, community service, license suspension, and even jail time in certain circumstances.
Repeat offender DUI charges can be much more severe. A second offense carries greater penalties than a first offense. Your third offense in 10 years or fourth offense regardless of time can result in felony charges and harsh jail sentences, not to mention big fines and escalating consequences for your driver’s license.
In addition to repeat offenses, you can get a felony DUI charge if you were involved in an accident that caused injury to another person while driving under the influence. You will face still more severe DUI manslaughter charges if you caused a fatal accident. These serious offenses carry lengthy prison sentences, heavy fines, and lifetime consequences.
If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you can be charged with DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04, half the legal limit for other drivers. A CDL DUI will result in suspension of your license for at least one year, and a second offense will result in lifetime suspension of your CDL.
What happens when you get a DUI in Florida
After you are charged with a DUI, you will be issued a court summons. In court, your case will be assessed by a judge. More importantly, your license will be administratively suspended by FLHSMV for 6 to 18 months. You can fight this suspension through a hearing or waive the hearing on a first DUI and get a hardship license. Call now to keep your ability to drive.
If it can be proven that you were driving under the influence, you may have your license suspended. You will likely be issued a fine. Depending on the severity of the incident, you may also be sentenced to jail time.
The DUI incident will be recorded on your permanent record. Any subsequent DUI charges will come with much more severe punishments, potentially including felony charges, jail time, and the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Your vehicle may be impounded as a punishment. If you are a repeat offender, the judge may require your vehicle to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed, forcing you to blow into a breathalyzer before starting your vehicle.
In addition, when you’re arrested for DUI, you will immediately receive an administrative driver’s license suspension. You have just 10 days to get a restricted license or to request an Administrative Hearing to contest the suspension.
How long does a DUI stay on your record?
In the state of Florida, a DUI conviction will remain on your record for 75 years. This makes it effectively permanent. It also cannot be expunged or sealed.
How bad is a DUI charge in Florida?
Any DUI charge can come with serious consequences. The severity of punishment can vary based on the factors of the individual case, such as blood alcohol level, damages caused, or if anyone’s life or wellbeing was threatened in the incident. While first time DUI charges are still serious, they are misdemeanor charges and often result in temporary license suspension, fines, and community service. Repeat offenses are much more serious and more likely to result in lengthier suspensions or potential revocation, higher fines, and even carry the possibility of jail time or felony charges.
Should I refuse a breathalyzer test?
When you submit to a Breath Test, you are giving the police and prosecutor evidence to use against you in court. You may be giving them evidence to prove you are guilty. However, refusing a breath or urine test can cause you to be charged with a crime if you have previously refused a breath or urine test and your license has been administratively suspended previously for refusing a test. Think before you blow!
Can you get DUI charges dismissed?
In certain circumstances, yes. For example, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to file a “Motion to Suppress” to exclude evidence, and if the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence left to pursue a conviction, your charges may be dropped.
Should I bother hiring a DUI lawyer even if I know I’m guilty?
Yes. Even if you believe that you are going to be convicted for the DUI, a quality attorney can still negotiate for reduced sentencing and potentially get related charges dropped or reduced.
How to avoid a DUI conviction
The best way to avoid a conviction for a DUI is to never drive under the influence. However, if you have already been charged, it is still possible to avoid a conviction – but only with excellent legal help.
However, these circumstances are rare. To avoid a conviction, you will need to act quickly and decisively to mount a strong legal defense after being charged with a DUI.
For the best chance of beating your DUI charge, schedule a free consultation with a DUI lawyer immediately after the incident. Tell them exactly what happened and allow them sufficient time to investigate the matter and create your defense.
Trying a DUI case
The best possible scenario in a DUI case is to either get your charges dropped or be found Not Guilty at trial. An experienced trial attorney will fight hard for both outcomes. First, there are certain circumstances in which police evidence may not be admissible in a court of law. Your attorney should ask the judge to throw out illegally obtained evidence by filing a pre-trial Motion to Suppress. If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove that you were intoxicated, the charges may be dropped.
If the prosecution moves forward with DUI charges, your attorney’s job is to get you acquitted (found not guilty) in court. This requires an aggressive approach to take apart the prosecutor’s case and undermine their arguments. Some of the steps I may take at trial include:
- During jury selection, ensuring that the jurors are open to defense arguments.
- Questioning the reliability of the breath test machine using the latest science.
- Attacking field sobriety exercises (which the police like to call “tests”), which have nothing to do with your “normal faculties” (the actual standard used in DUI cases).
- Countering the arguments made by the prosecution’s “experts” such as Drug Recognition Experts.
DUI trials are tough. Jurors are biased against accused drunk drivers. However, an attorney with the right experience and approach can overcome those challenges and fight for a Not Guilty verdict at your trial.
Why experience matters
Having an experienced lawyer on your side is essential when facing a charge as serious as a DUI. In some cases, a DUI case can be dropped or dismissed entirely, but only if there is a strong enough legal defense to stand up to the prosecution and their evidence.
Without a defense attorney, you are virtually guaranteed to be convicted on DUI charges. But with a quality defense attorney on your side, the playing field is much more even. That’s why I’m the defense lawyer you need fighting for you. Level the playing field with 25+ years of experience representing DUI defendants and a proven case record of success.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Polk, Hillsborough, or Pasco County, you need to act immediately. Fill out the online contact form or call 863-688-4606 for a free, confidential consultation.