Under Florida law, DUI (driving under the influence) is defined as driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while one’s normal faculties are impaired, or driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. DUI charges are serious and a conviction can result in severe, life-changing consequences. The penalties for DUI can include jail time, suspension of your driver’s license, expensive fines, probation, court costs, community service, mandatory classes, and counseling sessions. A DUI conviction can also adversely affect your future prospects for school and employment making it imperative that a Florida DUI lawyer is consulted as soon as possible. An experienced defense attorney can assist in mitigating the damage of the offense and guiding you through the legal process as successfully as possible.
Requesting a Hearing
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you have only 10 days to request a formal review hearing (also called an administrative hearing) with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Failure to request a hearing will waive your right to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. In these cases, it is very important to contact a qualified DUI attorney in Florida as soon as possible, because an attorney can help through the DUI process and file paperwork that will allow you to get a temporary driving permit to drive for work, school, medical and religious purposes.
The administrative hearing is a significant point in your case because the department of motor vehicles hearing officer will decide whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you, whether you were properly informed of the consequences of not taking a breath, blood or urine test, and whether you refused to submit to any tests. At your hearing, a Florida DUI attorney will be able to cross-examine witnesses such as the arresting officer, as well as subpoena important documents that will be used in the subsequent criminal trial.
Another important component is the criminal case which will determine your guilt or innocence, and your sentence if you are convicted of a DUI. Florida law sets forth mandatory minimum sentences in every DUI case, and the penalties are increasingly severe for every subsequent offense. The first DUI conviction is punishable by up to six months in jail, and up to nine months if the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was .15 or more. A second DUI conviction within 5 years of a previous DUI conviction comes with a penalty of up to 9 months in jail (and a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 days in the County jail); up to 12 months if the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was over .15 and 5 year driver’s license suspension. Heavy fines are also imposed for DUI convictions – the first conviction can result in a fine of $500 to $1000, and a second conviction is punishable by a fine of $1000 to $2000.
Importance of a Florida DUI Lawyer
If you are facing charges for driving while intoxicated or another criminal traffic violation in Florida, it is crucial to have a qualified attorney representing you in court. An attorney can challenge the evidence against you and get your charges reduced to reckless driving or even dismissed. At Leifert & Leifert, we understand that facing DUI charges is a difficult and anxiety-inducing experience. Attorney Brian Leifert is a former Broward County DUI prosecutor who thoroughly knows Florida criminal law and what it takes to win a DUI case.
To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer, please contact our firm today.