DUI Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Drinking and driving is against the law. The state of Florida takes an extremely harsh stance against drunk driving. There are specific laws in place to penalize a person who operated a vehicle while impaired from alcohol or controlled substances.
If a police officer has reason to believe you are operating a vehicle while impaired, they can pull you over for suspected DUI. They may request that you perform a variety of field sobriety tests and then arrest you for DUI and ask that you submit to a breath or blood test… .
If you are convicted of DUI in Florida, it can result in severe penalties. Even a first time DUI conviction can require you to pay fines, serve a jail sentence, lose your driving privileges, and have your vehicle impounded. Due to these harsh consequences, it is highly advised that you hire a Jacksonville DUI defense attorney to represent your case.
A Jacksonville defense attorney experienced in DUI cases can help you strategize a defense to fight the charges against you. The attorneys with Lockett Law are knowledgeable regarding Florida’s DUI laws. When you hire us to represent your case, we can provide legal insight and support throughout the entire process.
What is a DUI Charge?
A person who is arrested for drinking and driving in Florida will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Florida Statute §316.193 explains that a person commits a DUI offense if they were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and:
- Individual was under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances, when affected to the extent that a normal person’s faculties are impaired;
- Individual has a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
- Individual has a breath-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of blood.
If a police officer has reasonable cause to believe you are driving impaired, they can pull you over. Many officers will recognize the following five signs as a warning of driver impairment:
- Slowed reaction time;
- Limited short-term memory functions;
- Decreased hand-eye coordination;
- Lack of concentration; and
- Difficulty perceiving time and distance.
Actual Physical Control
Florida’s DUI statute explains that to be convicted of a DUI offense, the State must prove that the person was either driving impaired or in actual physical control of the vehicle while impaired
Actual physical control means that the defendant was not driving but had the immediate ability to do so. That means you could get charged with a DUI even if you weren’t operating the vehicle. An example is if a drunk person was sleeping in the front seat of their car with the keys in the ignition. The officer could report, and the State would try to prove, that the person was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and therefore guilty of DUI.
DUI Tests and Florida’s Implied Consent Law
When a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, Florida law allows the officer to request the completion of a field sobriety test.
Field sobriety tests are used to help determine if a person has been driving under the influence. A police officer can request the driver to perform several tasks that may or may not accurately measure the physical and mental proficiency required to operate a vehicle. This can include testing the driver’s balance, coordination, or multitasking skills.
The driver can refuse to take the test; however, they should be aware that doing so could result in their refusal being admissible in court.
Under Florida’s Implied Consent law, any person who accepts the privilege to drive in this state is deemed to have given their consent to submit a chemical or physical test of their blood, breath, or urine. . Failure to submit to testing results in an automatic license suspension.
For the first refusal, the driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
For the second or subsequent refusal, the driver’s license will be suspended for 18 months.
Further, Florida Statute §316.1939 states that a person commits a first-degree misdemeanor if they refused to submit a chemical or physical test of their breath, blood, or urine, had their driving privileges previously suspended for a prior refusal of a lawful test of their breath, urine, or blood, and:
- The arresting officer had probable cause to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances;
- Was placed under the lawful arrest for DUI;
- Was informed that their refusal would result in a 12–18-month license suspension based on the number of refusals;
- Was informed that a refusal to submit to a lawful test when their license was previously suspended for a prior refusal would result in a first-degree misdemeanor; and
- Who, after being informed, still refused to submit to testing.
If you are stopped by law enforcement for an alleged drunk driving incident, they may request to evaluate you through one of the three standard field sobriety tests in Florida:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – Driver is asked to track an object or light with only their eyes. The officer will check the eye movement for any signs of jerkiness while the object passes from the field of vision.
- The “Walk and Turn” – Driver is asked to take a specified number of steps, heel-to-toe in a straight line, before turning on one foot and completing the same steps in the opposite direction. The officer may look for signs of impairment in the driver’s balance or movement.
- The One-leg Stand (OLS) – Driver is asked to lift one foot several inches off the ground. The driver is then asked to count slowly to 30 while holding their balance. The officer may look for signs of impairment by the driver swaying, putting their foot down too soon, or using their arms to keep balance.
The driver’s inability to adequately perform a field sobriety test is not definite proof of intoxication. There is much disagreement among experts as to whether these exercises are a good way to gauge one’s impairment.
Conditions for Release After Jacksonville DUI Arrest
Under Florida Statute §316.193(9), a person arrested for DUI in Florida will remain in custody until one of the following circumstances are met:
- The arrested person is taken to first appearance the next day and bonds out.
- The arrested person’s blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is less than 0.05; or
- Eight hours have passed since the time the person was arrested.
Florida Penalties for DUI
If you are charged with a DUI offense in Florida, the exact penalties for a conviction will vary depending on your previous DUI history. Below lists each number of DUI offenses and some of the penalties as stated by FLHSMV:
- Conviction carries fines between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months of imprisonment.
- For BAL .15 or higher, or with a minor present – Conviction carries fines between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to nine months of imprisonment.
- Conviction carries fines between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to nine months of imprisonment.
- For BAL .15 or higher, or with a minor present – Conviction carries fines up between $2,000 and $4,000 and up to 12 months of imprisonment. If the second conviction occurs within five years of the first conviction, it carries mandatory imprisonment for 10 days with at least 48 hours of consecutive confinement.
Third DUI (Within 10 years from second conviction)
- Conviction carries fines between $2,000 and $5,000 and is considered a third-degree felony, meaning up to five years of imprisonment with a mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days, and at least 48 hours of consecutive confinement.
- For BAL .15 or higher, or with a minor present – Conviction carries fines no less than $4,000 and up to five years of imprisonment with a mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days, and at least 48 hours of consecutive confinement.
Third DUI (Over 10 years from second conviction)
- Conviction carries fines between $2,000 and $5,000 and up to 12 months of imprisonment.
- For BAL .15 or higher, or with a minor present – Conviction carries fines no less than $4,000 and up to 12 months of imprisonment.
Fourth or Subsequent DUI
- Conviction carries fines no less than $2,000, and is considered a third-degree felony, meaning up to five years of imprisonment.
- For BAL .15 or higher, or with a minor present – Conviction carries fines no less than $4,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.
Additional Consequences of DUI
DUI cases are unique in the sense that they can include additional consequences to the statute-specific fines and imprisonment. If you are convicted of a DUI offense, it can result in the loss of driving privileges, having your vehicle impounded, or installing an ignition interlock device (IID).
Florida Statute §316.193(6)(d) explains that at the time of DUI sentencing, the court must order for the impoundment or immobilization of a vehicle. That means your vehicle will either be taken to a tow yard or your tag will be temporarily removed for a specified time. Florida law provides that the period of immobilization begins after the convicted person serves their incarceration sentence and is released from custody.
Unless the defendant files a hardship license to prove their family has no other form of transportation, the following lists the periods of impoundment after a DUI conviction:
- First DUI – 10 days of vehicle impoundment
- Second DUI within 5 years from prior conviction – 30 days of vehicle impoundment
- Third DUI within 10 years from prior conviction – 90 days of vehicle impoundment
When you are arrested for DUI in Florida, your license will often times be automatically suspended. You have a 10-day window for challenging the license suspension in a hearing with an administrative judge to apply for a hardship license. This type of license will allow you to drive for business or employment purposes only.
If the DUI charge results in a conviction, your license could be revoked. Florida Statute §322.28 explains that the court shall revoke the driver’s license and driving privilege of a person convicted of DUI, effective on the date of the conviction, and shall prescribe the period of such revocation in accordance with the following provisions:
- First DUI conviction – Driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for at least 180 days but no more than one year.
- Second DUI conviction within 5 years from prior conviction – Driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for at least 5 years.
- Third DUI conviction within 10 years from prior conviction – Driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for at least 10 years.
For certain DUI offenses, the court may order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a handheld breathalyzer device for motor vehicles that measures the amount of alcohol in the person’s breath before they can operate it. The following lists how long a person convicted of DUI is required to have an IID inside their vehicle:
- First DUI conviction – At least 6 months, but only if the court orders it
- First DUI conviction (with BAL .015 or higher or minor present) – At least 6 months
- Second DUI Conviction – At least 1 year
- Second DUI Conviction (with BAL .015 or higher or minor present) – At least 2 years
- Third DUI Conviction – At least 2 years
- Four or subsequent DUI conviction – At least 5 years
If you have any questions regarding the penalties for a DUI conviction, contact a Jacksonville defense attorney as soon as possible.
DUI Procedure in Jacksonville
An arrest for DUI will result in two cases being filed: A civil case with the FLHSMV and the criminal case filed by the State Attorney’s Office. The following provides insight into each of the proceedings:
Civil FLHSMV Hearing
The first step in a DUI case is the civil proceedings against the driver’s license. The driver has a 10-day window to request a FLHSMV formal review hearing for a hardship license. If the request is made within the 10-day window, the FLHSMV must schedule a hearing within 30 days. Failure to respond within the 10-day window results in the automatic suspension of the driver’s license.
If the hearing results in the FLHSMV upholding the suspension, the driver will enter a period referred to as “hard time.” During this period, the person arrested for DUI cannot operate a vehicle for any reason. Only after the hard time has ended can the person attempt to receive another restricted license or wait until the remainder of the overall license suspension has ended.
A DUI arrest will result in the State of Florida filing a criminal case with the local County Court. Facing criminal charges for DUI will require several court appearances for the procedure:
- First Appearance – The judge will review the probable cause affidavit provided by the arresting officer to determine the reason for the DUI arrest. Without legal representation, the judge may attempt to take a guilty or no contest plea. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! This could result in an automatic DUI conviction, which is why representation is imperative in a DUI case. ALWAYS ASK TO BOND OUT SO THAT YOU CAN HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO REVIEW YOUR CASE.
- Arraignment – The judge will read the charges against the defendant, the possible penalties of each charge, and explain the defendant’s rights.
- Pretrial Hearings—There will be many of these hearings set before the case is settled and the client’s appearance can be waived for most of them. .
- Motion Hearing – Depending on the specific details and evidence of the DUI case, a defense attorney may file written motion(s). In some instances, a case may be settled during a motion hearing.
- Trial – When a criminal case can’t get settled through a plea, it can go to trial. It is extremely important for a DUI case to have optimal legal representation, especially if the case goes to trial.
If you have any questions regarding the civil and criminal procedures for a DUI arrest in Florida, contact a Jacksonville defense attorney. The attorneys at Lockett Law will help guide you through each step and work towards winning your case.
Defenses to a DUI Charge
The consequences of a DUI conviction are steep and can cause extensive stress and fear for the person facing the charges. One thing to remember is that you can still fight the charges against you.
With the help of an experienced Jacksonville DUI attorney, you can discuss if any of the following defenses are applicable to your case:
- Probable Cause – Police must have probable cause to pull you over if they suspect that you have committed a traffic infraction or have reasonable suspicion that you are impaired. . If there is evidence to prove that the arresting officer lacked probable cause, it can be used as a defense. In some cases, all evidence can be suppressed due to an unlawful stop.
- Violation of Miranda Rights – Any time police arrest a person for a crime, they must read them their Miranda Rights, if they intend on questioning the person. Failure to do so could result in the suppression of evidence or the acquittal of an arrest. For example, it is extremely common for drivers to get into “hot water” simply by being honest and admitting to the police officer that they had been drinking. If the arresting officer did not read the DUI defendant their Miranda Rights, their admission could be removed.
- Illegal Search – For police to search a person’s vehicle, it requires probable cause, or consent, or some other exception to the warrant requirement. If an officer executes an illegal search and finds alcohol or incriminating paraphernalia, the evidence may be suppressed, or the case may be dropped.
Challenges to DUI Tests
- Field Sobriety Tests – While field sobriety tests are commonly used for suspected DUI, they are not 100% reliable. Police officers are not experts in intoxication nor are they scientists, meaning they can only base their analysis of the field sobriety tests on their training. This can lead to unreliable interpretations of the results. Lockett Law stays up to date with emerging science to stay on top of any avenue to fight these results.
- Chemical Tests – Florida employs breath, and blood tests to measure the amount of alcohol in suspected DUI offender’s system. Although the chemical tests are scientific in nature, it does not mean they are always accurate. Blood tests can measure the amount and presence of drugs in a person’s system and urine tests can be used to test only for the presence of drugs. Unreliable test results can occur from incorrect administering, unchecked machines, or tainted chain of custody prior to the chemical testing.
- Actual Physical Control – The State must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the DUI defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle during the arrest. If there is any doubt that the defendant was the one driving or in actual physical control of the car, it could result in an acquittal. Some questions the defendant can ask themselves regarding actual physical control:
- Were you not actually driving the car or at least behind the wheel?
- Was someone else driving the car?
- Were you unable to turn the car on?
- Was the car not functioning?
- Body Camera – A defense attorney may request to view and analyze the arresting officer’s body camera. If the arrest report indicated that the defendant appeared drunk, but the video shows proof of the defendant appearing sober, it could be used as a defense to help disprove the State’s case.
Contact a Jacksonville DUI Defense Attorney
Florida’s tough stance on drunk driving provides strict penalties for any DUI offense. Facing a DUI charge is concerning for anyone. A conviction can result in expensive fines and jail time, as well as the additional consequences of losing your driver’s license, having your car impounded, and the required IID installment. Do not face these consequences alone. An experienced Jacksonville DUI attorney can provide guidance and defense strategies to fight the charges against you.
The defense attorneys at Lockett Law, P.A. have years of experience representing Floridians who have been accused of DUI. Our team will collaborate with you, providing nonstop support during this challenging time. To receive a free consultation about your DUI case, contact our office today at 904-858-9818 or send us an email.
Driving Under the Influence FAQ
Do I need a lawyer for a DUI?
Certain traffic offenses may not require legal help, such as with a speeding ticket. However, a DUI charge is not one of those offenses. DUIs are criminal charges, not civil and get complicated and can negatively impact your life. Due to Florida’s strict DUI laws and the nuanced legal field, it is in your best interest to hire a DUI defense attorney to represent your case.
How much does a DUI lawyer cost?
The cost of an attorney will vary depending on the type and complexity of your specific case. Lockett Law offers free consultations to those who are considering hiring a Jacksonville DUI defense attorney. During this consultation we will review your case details and determine what type of rate is appropriate for you. In many cases, payment plans and legal loans are available.
Is Driving Under the Influence a felony in Florida?
A DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense in Florida. However, there are certain circumstances in which it can be charged as a felony. Felony DUIs are charged when:
- DUI offense results in serious bodily injury of another person;
- Third, Fourth or subsequent DUI conviction; or
- DUI manslaughter offense.
What is the legal limit for DUI in Florida?
The legal limit for driving under the influence in Florida is .08 BAL. Florida Statute §316.193 states that a person who has the blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level of .08 or higher can be charged with DUI.
Can you expunge a DUI in Florida?
Under Florida law, the records for a DUI conviction cannot be sealed or expunged. This is one of the many reasons why finding legal representation is imperative to a DUI case.
How long will a DUI affect my insurance in Florida?
Generally, people will need to purchase additional insurance for three years following a DUI conviction. It is important to point out, however, that it will depend on the specific facts of your case, the specifics of the conviction, and the polices of your insurance company.
Will I go to Jail for a DUI?
A standard DUI procedure will result in an arrest on the day of the offense. Your case details, legal representation, and defense strategies can all impact whether your DUI case will result in a jail sentence. DUI cases can be resolved through dismissal, plea deals, or a guilty conviction with a sentence. The attorneys with Lockett Law can assess your case and weigh in on the likely process.
Jacksonville DUI Defense Lawyer: Providing Free DUI Defense Consultations
Contact our law firm in Jacksonville to speak with the experienced Jacksonville DUI attorneys at Lockett Law, P.A.. Call us at 904-858-9818 or send us an email. We have Spanish speakers on staff. Se habla Español. We have two convenient office locations.
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