Anyone arrested for DUI in Fruit Cove has a lot to lose. Defendants can see their licenses taken away and could spend up to six months in jail, possibly more, all the while having to scrape together the money to pay heavy fines.
Fortunately, defendants can avoid these heavy penalties, but they need the right Fruit Cove DUI lawyer to represent them. Contact Lockett Law, P.A. today.
Understanding DUI Law
It might surprise you, but drinking and driving is technically not illegal. Anyone over 21 is free to have a drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, impaired driving is illegal. Under Florida law, the police can only arrest you for DUI if one of the following is true:
- Your blood alcohol level (BAL) is 0.08 or higher. Commercial drivers have lower limits, and someone under 21 cannot have a BAL of 0.02 or higher.
- You have a certain amount of a drug or controlled substance in your bloodstream.
- Your normal faculties were impaired by alcohol or drugs.
If the police cannot prove any of the above, then you are not guilty of DUI, regardless of whether you had a drink or two in a bar.
Of course, it is often easy for the state to allege you were impaired. Even if your BAL is below the allowable limit, an officer can claim he saw you swerving all over the road or making some other illegal maneuver. Unless you have a dashcam mounted on your car, it is hard to disprove what the officer claims.
DUI Penalties are Serious
The penalties a defendant faces depend on the circumstances of the case, including whether this is a first or subsequent arrest for DUI, the driver’s BAL, and other aggravating factors.
The simplest DUI is one where the driver’s BAL was at least 0.08 but below 0.15. No one was hurt, no children were in the car, and this is the motorist’s first offense ever. Even in this situation, a defendant is facing:
- Fines between $500 and $1,000
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
If this first-time offender had a BAL of 0.15 or higher, then he or she is looking at up to 9 months in prison. The same is true if there was a minor in the vehicle.
A subsequent DUI conviction carries even stiffer penalties:
- Fines between $1,000 and $2,000
- Up to 9 months in jail, or up to a year in jail if BAL was 0.15 or higher. At least 10 days in jail are mandatory if fewer than 5 years have passed since the prior conviction.
- Vehicle impoundment for 30 days
Penalties only go up from there for third and fourth convictions, which can ultimately result in being charged as a felon.
If someone was seriously injured in the accident, then a defendant could face up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
An Arrest is Not a Conviction
An officer can claim you were impaired. That does not mean you are guilty. Instead, the state needs to come forward with enough evidence to show you violated the law.
At Lockett Law, we closely analyze all the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. We can identify certain errors that the police made, such as not having probable cause to pull you over in the first place or not operating the breathalyzer properly.
The prosecutor always has the burden of proving our clients guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a high standard and requires solid evidence. Prosecutors often lack relevant proof, especially if a motorist refused a chemical test and the case rests entirely on the police officer’s observations.
You Can Lose Your License in an Administrative Suspension
Many Floridians are totally unaware that there is an administrative side to every DUI case. Our state takes DUI so seriously that it suspends a motorist’s license as soon as they are arrested. The driver is given a 10-day temporary permit and then they lose all driving privileges for at least six months, sometimes even longer.
However, it’s possible to hold onto your license, but you need to act quickly. Contact our law firm, and we will represent you at the administrative hearing, where you get to make your case that you were not impaired on the day you were arrested. If you succeed, you can keep your license, at least until the criminal case is resolved. If you lose, we will try to get a hardship license that allows you to go to and from work so you can continue to support your family.
Get Experienced DUI Representation in Fruit Cove
If you have been arrested, please contact Lockett Law today for a free consultation. We have helped many drivers in Fruit Cove and surrounding areas fight back against DUI charges.