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DUI AttorneyIf you have been arrested for driving under the influence in the St. Petersburg area, your first step is to consult with a DUI attorney immediately.
A DUI arrest is a scary, stressful, overwhelming, and, ultimately, a very expensive event. These cases often have severe punishments that you will be paying for (mentally, emotionally, and financially) for quite some time. There are significant fines and penalties, and the cost of your insurance will almost certainly increase. You can see some of the criminal penalties on the link provided below to find out more.
An aggressive attorney well-versed in Florida DUI laws can provide you with the help you need.
Florida DUI Laws and Penalties
In Florida it is considered driving under the influence (“DUI”) for a person to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and (1) to be under the influence of alcoholic beverages or certain other chemical or controlled substances when you are affected to the extent your normal faculties are impaired, or (2) to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or (3) to have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
In other words, you may be found guilty of DUI if you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle (even a bicycle, believe it or not) and you are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, certain common household chemicals, or any controlled substance (marijuana, cocaine, etc.), to the extent your normal faculties are impaired or you have an unlawful blood or breath alcohol level.
Some of the criminal penalties for DUI can be found here. Pinellas County has a list of the fines and costs associated with misdemeanor DUIs. It can be found here. As you can see, the fines/costs for a first DUI with a BAC of under .15 is $983.00. It only goes up from there.
In Florida we have what is known as the Implied Consent Law. When you received and signed your driver’s license, you were agreeing that, if asked by a law enforcement officer to take a breath, urine, or blood test, you would comply. If you refuse to submit to such a test, your license will be suspended for one year for a first offense and 18 months for a second and subsequent offense. A second refusal is an independent misdemeanor.
Once you consult with a DUI attorney, you’ll learn there is much more to it.
How a DUI Attorney Can Help
Because these cases are very complex and there are a number of aspects that need to be dealt with at once, having the right St. Petersburg DUI attorney will help you cope with the pressure. After being arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, a person almost immediately begins dealing with two different cases: the criminal case with the court and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DHSMV”) license suspension.
If you are arrested for DUI, the law enforcement officer will issue you a temporary driving permit (which is the Uniform Traffic Citation or “ticket” for the DUI) that expires at midnight on the 10th day following the date of your arrest. However, within that 10 days, you can request a review of your driving record with the DHSMV for the purpose of determining your eligibility for immediate reinstatement of your driving privilege on a restricted “business purpose only” basis. The restricted license will be for the duration of the suspension period imposed under Florida law, either six months for driving with an unlawful BAL or one year for refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test. However, if you decide to go this route, you will be waiving your right to request a formal or informal hearing before the DHSMV to contest your suspension. See the form for the review of eligibility here.
If you do not request the review for eligibility, you may instead request a formal review hearing with the DHSMV to contest your license suspension, but it must be done within that 10-day period after arrest. If you request a formal review hearing within the 10-day period, you will be able to obtain a temporary driving permit that will allow you to drive under a business purposes only restriction for the next 42 days. During that 42-day period, the formal review hearing will take place and you can submit documentation and question witnesses, including the law enforcement officer who arrested you. The request for a formal hearing is here.
If you do not request a formal review hearing within 10 days of your arrest, you waive your right to a hearing and your license will be suspended for at least six months or more depending on the facts of your case. Thus, it is critical that you contact an attorney within the 10-day period.
Obtaining a Hardship Driver License
You may be eligible for a hardship license if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You have never been convicted of more than one DUI offense.
- You have completed (or be enrolled in) the DUI School.
- You have served out the “hard suspension” period of your suspension.
The “hard suspension” period is 30 days for (1) driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or certain other chemical or controlled substances when you are affected to the extent your normal faculties are impaired, or (2) to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or (3) to have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The “hard suspension” is 90 days for a refusal to submit to a BAL test.
A hardship license may not be available to multiple offenders or it may take longer to obtain a hardship license. Whether you can obtain one, and the time frame in which you can obtain one, will vary depending upon the facts of your case.
There are always many defenses to consider. Depending on your case, some of the possible defenses your attorney may be able to use in your favor are:
- Insufficient Evidence that Your “Normal” Faculties Were Impaired
- Improper or Unconstitutional Stops (failure to maintain a single lane violations are always prime candidates for motions to suppress)
- Exclusion of the Field Sobriety Exercises because of police coercion or other improper conduct or testing techniques
- Exclusion of Statements and/or Breath Test Results in some cases
Depending upon the strength of the state’s case (and, most importantly, how you look on video), an attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to amend your charge down to reckless driving or otherwise obtain an otherwise favorable plea agreement. The typical penalties in Pinellas for a reckless driving reduced from a DUI are a $500 fine, $500 in court costs, a six month business purpose only license, and completion of DUI school and any counseling ordered. You will also be ordered tp perform 50 hours of community service, but the court will usually allow you to buy out the hours at $10 per hour. Sometimes the state may agree to a withhold of adjudication, which means no conviction and no points. Although there are no guarantees, just because you have been arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted of DUI.
Why Flint Law?
You need a lawyer well-versed in Florida drunk driving laws and who is familiar with the St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa Bay court systems. As your DUI Attorney, Flint Law will give you the necessary legal guidance and assistance to increase the chances of obtaining the best outcome for your case. Building a strong defense is not simple, but it becomes a lot easier with a reliable attorney representing you. Rest assured, Flint Law will review and analyze each and every aspect of your case and provide a most vigorous defense. He can also help you understand any potential DUI penalties you will be subject to.
Call Flint Law of St. Petersburg today for a consultation (727) 483-8404.