If you appear to be intoxicated, law enforcement can pull you over and place you under arrest for DUI. Arrests following a BAC/BAL register of .08 or above happen far more frequently than one might think. Local law enforcement officers set up checkpoints and set themselves up in unexpected locations waiting for one wrong move – a justifiable reason to pull someone over. Once they are at your vehicle, whether they pulled you over for swerving or failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, they can initiate a DUI arrest given your appearance, response to questions and/or performance on physical sobriety tests. When this occurs, a Ft Lauderdale DUI lawyer should be consulted as soon as possible. An experienced defense attorney can not only work to mitigate the damage of your offense but also to protect your rights throughout the legal process.
When Would a Person Be Charged with Drinking and Driving?
In the state of Florida, DUI can be proven one of two ways. The first is someone with an unlawful blood alcohol level driving, operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. The current unlawful blood alcohol level in the state of Florida is a 0.08 or above. Years ago, the legal blood alcohol level limit for DUIs in Florida was a 0.12. Over the years it was reduced to a 0.10 and is currently at 0.08 where it has remained for some time.
The first type of DUI is driving or being in actual physical of a motor vehicle with an unlawful blood alcohol level. There is a second way a DUI can be proven and/or prosecuted. That is when a case involves a situation where there is no blood alcohol level or blood alcohol reading for a variety of reasons. The individual refused to give a sample of their breath or blood or that particular piece of evidence was just not available at that time. That type of DUI is known as operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical substance, or controlled substance while the person’s normal faculties are impaired. A knowledgeable Ft. Lauderdale lawyer could help conclude the type of DUI a plaintiff faces and begin preparing a defense.
Potential Penalties for a DUI Offense in Ft Lauderdale
According to Florida Statutes §316.193, the penalties for a DUI offense could vary. For example, a first conviction would involve a fine of at least $500 and a prison sentence of no more than six months. A second conviction would merit a fine of at least $1,000 with a jail sentence of no more than nine months, but if the offense happened within five years of the first offense, they would be required to serve a mandatory sentence of at least 10 days. A third conviction would result in a fine of at least $2,000 with a mandatory sentence of at least 30 days if the offense happened within the last 10 years of the second offense.
These penalties are serious and frightening, but a compassionate Ft. Lauderdale attorney could help with mitigating the consequences of a case through a compelling DUI defense.
What Role does Law Enforcement Play During Trial?
These definitions are not considered scientific. Because of this, there is a larger value on proving a DUI. Cases are generally proven with opinion-based testimony from a law enforcement officer. They can testify to their gauge on what effect alcohol, drugs, or chemical substances has on an individual’s normal faculties. Normal faculties include a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, walk, talk, make judgments, and act in emergency situations.
A driving under the influence offense from abnormal faculties is a very different type of charge compared to driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level. There is more room for interpretation. Two people can see the same set of facts and come to a different conclusion. It is less scientific than that first type of DUI. A DUI is driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with an unlawful blood alcohol level. Another DUI offense is driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence to the extent a person’s normal faculties are impaired.
Local Nuances in Ft. Lauderdale
Ft. Lauderdale laws and law enforcement officers treat a person the same as to whether they are caught or charged with driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level or driving under the influence to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired. The legislature is tough on DUI enforcement and has passed strict DUI laws in Florida. Additionally, if someone is in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition and falls asleep in their vehicle and is not driving, that type of case is prosecuted the same someone who was actually driving while under the influence. Those two cases are prosecuted the same way and are both the same type of DUI.
Ft. Lauderdale does not make the distinction between DUIs that some other states make. When someone is charged with a DUI in Florida and has a prior DUI from another state, even though it is considered a lesser type of DUI, Florida treats any out of state DUI, regardless of what it is called or what level it is at, as if it occurred in the state of Florida. Florida is very tough with its own laws and with respect to how they interpret other state DUI laws.
Building a Defense
The DUI defense lawyers in Ft Lauderdale are former local prosecutors; as such, they have an inside, working knowledge of how prosecutors bring charges against defendants. Unlike many other forms of criminal activity, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs/medications (DUI) usually does not involve a conscious effort on the part of the driver to willfully engage in criminal activity.
Attorneys know that most criminal cases, if they can be successfully prosecuted, involve intent to hurt, steal, damage or destroy, etc. Unlike so many other types of criminal cases, the typical individual accused of or charged with DUI has no other criminal history and is otherwise a productive member of society, whose actions were not representative of their personality and were not carried out with the intention of harming anyone or anything.
Nevertheless, because the state government has increasingly been imposing stricter penalties for the offense of DUI, coupled with the driver’s license implications of being arrested for, charged with and/or convicted of DUI, it is imperative that someone seeks the representation of a Ft Lauderdale attorney with extensive experience working within the confines of the criminal justice system in the US.
Contacting an Attorney
The time to contact an experienced attorney is immediately after being released from jail after being arrested for DUI. You can legally drive for the first ten days following your arrest. Your traffic citation for DUI states that unless your license was already suspended prior to your arrest, “this citation shall serve as a temporary driver’s license and will expire on midnight on the tenth day following the date of your arrest.” The “10-day” clock begins ticking on the day of your arrest, not the day of your release from jail (which could be the next day).
Losing your license can be a serious inconvenience. It can make it impossible for you to commute to work, to go grocery shopping, to pick your child up from school, etc. You must take action with help of a DUI lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale within the first ten days following your arrest in order to protect your ability to obtain a temporary driver’s license and exercise a challenge to the suspension of your driver’s license.
A Ft Lauderdale DUI lawyer can listen to potential clients and answer any questions or concerns they have before proceeding to court. Unfortunately, many times individuals think they are hiring a particular attorney for their case only to find out in court that somebody else is handling their case. Ft Lauderdale DUI lawyers do not engage in those practices, and the attorney they meet with will be the one who handles their case from start to finish.