Why You Need A Lawyer For A Florida DUI Case
For anybody facing a DUI charge in Florida, the situation can be extremely stressful and confusing. Florida has tough laws for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), with penalties including substantial fines, jail time, and probation. Convicted drivers can also face license restrictions that affect a person’s ability to get back to work and get back to “normal” for months or years beyond a jail sentence.
Many people wonder whether it is worth hiring an attorney for their DUI case – particularly if the prosecution has breathalyzer results and other potential evidence against them. It is important to realize that every criminal defendant, including DUI defendants, have important legal rights and defenses available to them. Even if they acknowledge some wrongdoing, an attorney can help negotiate a plea deal that benefits them and resolves the case successfully.
It is also important to have skilled legal counsel in a DUI case given the substantial penalties and consequences at stake.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Florida
Under Florida Statute Sec. 316.193, the penalty for a first time DUI carries at least a six-month driver’s license revocation and six months of probation. Depending on the circumstances of the case you could face up to 6 months in jail, a 12-month driver license revocation, $1,000 fine, among other penalties. If the person’s BAC was over .15, there was a minor in the vehicle, or it is not their first DUI offense, the fines and penalties escalate further.
In addition to punishments imposed by a court, a person convicted of DUI can face numerous collateral consequences. These may include loss of employment and loss of future employment (due to license revocations and restrictions). A DUI conviction can also lead to problems for those that must maintain professional licenses in their careers – doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, and other professionals might face troubles with the boards that oversee their conduct.
Potential Defenses in a Florida DUI Case
An experienced Florida DUI Defense attorney can help a person navigate the murky legal waters of a Florida DUI case. They may be able to highlight potential defenses that impact the case, such as:
- The traffic stop itself was illegal. For example, the officer lacked probable cause to stop the driver, or did not have reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed. If they were acting on a hunch, racially profiling the driver, or otherwise making a frivolous traffic stop, evidence obtained – even breathalyzer evidence – could potentially be thrown out of court.
- The post-stop detention was unlawful. An officer cannot detain a person for longer than necessary to complete a traffic citation, unless they have reasonable suspicion there was a crime committed or further investigation is needed. The Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures often come into play when analyzing these scenarios.
- The officer lacked reasonable suspicion to perform Field Sobriety Exercises. Results or impressions from FSEs cannot be used against a driver if the officer lacked a reasonable basis to perform those exercises.
- The breath test was not performed under proper guidelines. An officer administering a breathalyzer test is required to follow strict protocols. For example, they must maintain a log regarding the device’s use, ensure that it is clean and free from obstructions, and prevent other abnormalities from affecting a result. Carelessness with maintenance or use of the breath test can render the entire result inadmissible.
- Miranda rights were not read. If the officer failed to properly read a driver their Miranda rights prior to obtaining an incriminating statement, that statement and any others collected could be withheld from use at trial.
- The driver was involved in an accident. Under Florida’s Accident Report Privilege, most statements given to law enforcement officers are excluded from being used later at trial. This is a delicate area of law, however, and many officers know better than drivers how to navigate this rule and try to get incriminating statements into court.
The Orlando DUI Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA Are Here to Help You Build Your Defense
It can be tempting to give up or settle for a quick plea deal – negotiated by yourself or a public defender – in these cases. However, skilled Florida DUI defense attorneys such as the legal team at Joshi Law, PA, can fully assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses to determine the optimal outcome. To learn more, contact our Orlando criminal lawyers at Joshi Law Firm today to discuss the facts and strategies available to you in a DUI case.