Florida DUI defendants arrested on charges of driving under the influence will also automatically have their license suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to file an objection and request a hearing on the matter. An experienced Tampa DUI lawyer has the skills and the knowledge to defend the suspension of your license and to ensure you maintain your driving privileges.
The penalties for a DUI case in Orlando and elsewhere in Florida are serious and the laws are strictly enforced as reflected by Florida having the third-highest number of DUI arrests in the country. Given the prevalence of DUI arrests in Florida, it is critical to understand the penalties associated with a DUI conviction. An Orlando DUI attorney who routinely handles DUI cases in Orlando and throughout Florida has provided an overview of DUI punishment for first and second-time offenders.
The penalties rise with each subsequent offense. There are actually two tiers of punishment under Florida DUI law. The lower tier applies in cases where the blood alcohol level of the offender is over 0.8. The higher tier applies where one’s blood alcohol level exceeds 2.0 or a minor child was in the vehicle at the time of the DUI.
The criminal status of a first offense depends on the specifics of the case. A driver who damages property can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for example. A first-time DUI in the lower tier also can result in a maximum jail sentence of six months. The fine for a first-time offender in tier one is $250-500. The offender’s driver’s license can also be suspended for a minimum of 180 days to one year. If the offender is convicted, his vehicle will also be impounded for 10 days unless it is the only transportation for the offender’s family. The court will also require 12 hours of DUI School and 50 hours of community service.
If the offender meets the criteria for the higher tier (i.e. blood alcohol over 2.0 or a minor child in the vehicle), the maximum sentence for a first-time offense increases to 9 months. The penalty also increases to $500-1000.
Criminal status for a second offense is similar to that for a first offense except that if the DUI causes serious bodily injury to another it may result in a third-degree felony. First or second-degree felonies can be charged if the offender commits DUI manslaughter which results in the death of another person. For a second offense, the maximum imprisonment increases to 9 months. The fine also increases to $500-1000. The fine increases to $1000-2000 if the higher tier criteria are met. If the violation occurred within 5 years of the first offense, the offender’s car will be impounded for 30 days. The offender’s license will be suspended for 180 days to 1 year. The offender’s license will also be revoked for a minimum of five years if the second offense is committed within 5 years of the first offense. The offender must also complete 21 hours of DUI school and complete a year of probation.
Interviewing an Attorney to Handle your DUI Case
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) your choice of legal representation can sometimes determine whether you maintain your freedom and driving privileges. Courts take DUI charges very seriously so it is critical that you are represented by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. A criminal defense attorney who handles DUI cases in Florida has provided some guidelines when interviewing a potential attorney to handle your DUI case.
You should ask the lawyer about their experience handling DUI cases. The ideal attorney will have handled other cases similar to yours and will have extensive experience handling DUI cases. You should be cautious of an attorney who has not routinely handled DUI cases over a number of years. A good DUI attorney also will have a good track record for the cases they take to trial.
Sometimes an attorney will provide a free initial consultation so that you can evaluate his experience. However, you should not exclude a potential attorney solely because he does not provide such a consultation. The most qualified attorneys are sometimes the most in-demand, making a free consultation difficult. You can also ask around about the attorney’s reputation or read about the attorney on the internet.
Before you hire an attorney, you should make sure you clearly understand his fee structure. The attorney should have a written fee agreement, which clearly explains the fee structure and how potential other costs associated with the case will be handled. You should also ask the attorney whether he will be handling the case personally. In many firms, cases may be passed to less experienced attorneys once the firm has been retained. If another attorney at the firm will be handling the case, you should also verify that the attorney who will actually be handling the matter has appropriate experience handling DUI cases.
You should also ask the attorney about his policy in terms of communicating with his clients and keeping them informed of developments in the case. “The most frequent complaint made to state bar associations relative to attorneys is that the attorney did not provide reasonable communication regarding the client’s case”. You should find out whether the attorney will send you copies of all documents filed with the court as well as any correspondence. Clients should also ask the attorney about the firm’s policy when it comes to returning client telephone calls. How promptly are calls returned? Does the attorney typically return calls or is this done by a member of the attorney’s staff?
The attorney may also recommend you enter an alcohol treatment facility. If the attorney suggests you do so, you should not be offended as courts may take such a step into account in deciding the disposition or sentence in the case.
Police Use of Pre-Made DUI Arrest Reports Can Cause Problems
If a police officer sees a vehicle with odd driving patterns – such as failure to maintain a single lane, swerving, or otherwise driving erratically – he will usually pull over the vehicle. Then, he inquires about the driver’s sobriety and may ask the motorist to perform roadside field sobriety tests or even blow into a handheld breath test device. During all of this, he also gauges the driver’s overall appearance of intoxication. Common indicators a law enforcement officer could cite that point to a decision regarding intoxication include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and even confusion or disorientation.
A few years ago, a serious problem with this model became known to the public when a local Orlando television news station reported on the pre-written reports. These reports covered all of the bases, describing the general conditions of the DUI arrest in a “Mad Libs” sort of fashion. For example, the pre-composed reports had fields such as “I asked the suspect how much he had been drinking tonight and he responded ________” or “I made the traffic stop when the weather was _(cool/warm)_ and it was _(dark/daylight)_ outside.” These pre-made DUI arrest reports are problematic because they do not demonstrate the individualized issues with each defendant. They may also encourage officers from abandoning traditional investigative techniques and simply filling in easy answers throughout the DUI template.
When a police officer comes to court to testify against a DUI/DWI defendant, it is often many months following the actual arrest. Because law enforcement officials make such a high volume of arrests in many cases, they likely do not remember the particular details of each arrest from the prior year or six months earlier. Therefore, they refresh their memories with the reports they filed for the case before they take the stand. These reports, which may be heavily relied upon by the police officer when testifying, need to be as complete, accurate and individualized as possible for fairness to the DUI defendant.
Woman Dropping Child Off At School Charged With DUI After Crashing Into Car
A 39-year-old mother was arrested and charged with DUI and DUI with property damage after crashing into another vehicle as she was pulling into a parking space. She then left the vehicle unattended, and on foot.
Police that responded to the scene, reported that she was under the influence of a controlled substance. She consented to a series of voluntary field sobriety exercises, where she reportedly failed. She was then arrested and charged with DUI, DUI with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident with unattended property, and child neglect.
Setting aside the more serious charges, according to Florida Law, leaving the scene of an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by a person, shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close to there as possible, and shall forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene. Any person failing to stop, or comply with Florida Law, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $500, or by imprisonment for not more than 60 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other criminal offense, you should call a Florida DUI Attorney as soon as possible. Because DWI defense lawyers are relentless in the defense of their clients, they have effectively achieved reduced sentences, reduced charges, preservation of driver’s licenses, and dismissed charges for their clients.