Clearwater DUI Defense Lawyer
Every year, more than 30,000 people are arrested in the State of Florida for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Police and prosecutors take DUI charges very seriously and are very happy to throw the book at a defendant even for a first offense. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey or Tampa, it is vital that you get a passionate Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer on your side as soon as you can. Without a proper legal defense, you could face license suspension, jail time, heavy fines, and additional consequences that follow a criminal conviction. A Clearwater DUI defense lawyer at King Law Group is ready to hear your case.
Elements of a DUI Conviction in Florida
According to the Florida Statutes section 316.193, a defendant is guilty of driving under the influence when they are in actual physical control of a vehicle and either:
- The defendant has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol of 0.08, or
- The defendant is under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance (as defined by Florida law) such that their normal faculties are impaired, regardless of their blood-alcohol content (BAC) level.
A person can be convicted of DUI even if they had a very low BAC level so long as their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle was impaired by their intoxication. If the government can prove a BAC of 0.08 or higher, the defendant faces a per se DUI conviction without other evidence of impairment. DUI also applies if the defendant was driving while under the influence of prescription medications (such as opioids or painkillers) or controlled substances (such as cocaine or marijuana).
DUI Penalties in Florida
The State of Florida takes DUI very seriously. Even a first conviction can lead to jail time, while multiple convictions can be punished with extensive imprisonment. Under Fla. Stat. § 316.193:
- A first DUI conviction is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and jail time of up to six months. The driver’s license may be suspended for between 180 days and one year.
- A second DUI conviction is punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and jail time of up to nine months. For a second DUI conviction within five years, the driver’s license will be revoked for five years.
- A third DUI conviction within ten years is punishable by up to five years in jail, while a third DUI conviction more than ten years after the last DUI conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail.
- The fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is punishable as a felony and a five-year jail sentence, in addition to substantial fines. The fourth or greater conviction will result in permanent revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license.
Defendants may also be forced to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle depending upon their BAC at the time of the arrest or how many prior DUI convictions they have (after three DUIs, all defendants are subject to an ignition interlock device for at least two years).
There are also possible enhancements, such as a crash involving property damage or bodily injury, a child being in the vehicle or taking a breath test and having a blood alcohol level over 0.15. Any of these factors could increase both the minimum and maximum penalties for a DUI. Speak to an experienced DUI attorney at King Law Group to make sure you’re well informed and have the best criminal defense lawyer on your case.
Defending Against DUI Convictions
There are many possible defenses to DUI charges. Defending against DUI charges often involves undermining the accuracy of the evidence used by the prosecution, much of which is questionable at best.
- Breathalyzer inaccuracy. The law has very strict requirements to maintain and calibrate breathalyzers. If a single step in that process is not performed up to specifications or is not documented properly, the results of the breath test may be suppressed. Additionally, even if everything is done correctly, there is the possibility of a breathalyzer malfunction or that another substance or condition could produce inaccurate results.
- Blood test inaccuracy. While blood tests are much more accurate than the breathalyzer, there is the possibility of misleading results. The timing of the blood draw and subsequent testing is essential in determining whether the results are accurate. The police must follow strict procedures to maintain a chain of custody of the blood without contamination. If any step was missed along the line, the blood test results cannot be used to support a conviction.
- Police procedure failure. Americans have rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and supported by numerous federal court cases. Those rights include protection against unlawful search and seizure. If the police search a defendant’s vehicle without either a warrant or probable cause to suspect a crime then any evidence obtained during that unlawful search cannot be used in a criminal prosecution. The same may apply to a defendant subjected to unlawful detention and then forced to undergo a sobriety test. Talk to your criminal defense lawyer at King Law Group about the circumstance of your arrest to find out if there may be grounds to throw out the evidence that is being used against you.
Call Today for Help With Your Clearwater DUI Arrest
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in the Tampa Bay Area, you need a dedicated legal advisor in your corner as soon as possible. An experienced Clearwater DUI defense lawyer at King Law Group is ready to hear your case. At King Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing tailored and compassionate legal service to each of our clients. Your case matters to us, and we’ll be by your side from your arrest until we obtain the best resolution possible in your criminal case. If you’ve been arrested or charged with DUI in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Tampa or anywhere in the Tampa Bay Area, call Clearwater criminal defense law firm King Law Group today for a free consultation.