Jacksonville DUI Defense Lawyer

DUI Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL

DUI Defense Lawyer

At Lockett Law, P.A., when we accept a DUI Defense case, we focus on beating the DUI charge, not simply negotiating “the best possible deal.” With extensive experience defending countless DUIs, from first DUI offenses to such felonies as DUI manslaughter, our team is deeply familiar with the complexities involved in these cases. We regularly pursue DUI dismissals, evidence suppression or charge reductions — not guilty verdicts — based on each client’s individual case.

The best strategy can change things significantly for the better, but these are still very serious allegations. While you are likely facing a misdemeanor, you still risk a range of serious penalties if you are convicted of DUI in Florida. At Lockett Law, P.A., we use cutting-edge strategies to vigorously defend our clients accused of driving under the influence.

DUI Procedure

DUI cases invoke two cases to be filed. The DMV will usually be civil proceedings which will impact your license. The State of Florida through the State Attorney’s Office will also file criminal charges. It’s important to understand both of these cases and the procedure involved in order to mount the most effective dual-front defense.

DMV Hearing

First, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will initiate proceedings against your license. This will occur whether you have a BAC of over .08 or if you refuse to take a chemical test (including urine) at the scene, the jail, or hospital.

Either of these circumstances trigger what’s called the Florida Implied Consent law. Everyone who drives in Florida agrees to consent to a chemical test (usually breath, sometimes blood) if the police have probable cause. This will result in a 10-day period where you must respond or a suspension will automatically result. If you or your Jacksonville DUI Lawyer are able to respond within the 10 days, a hearing must be scheduled within 30 days. If the DMV can’t set this within the 30-day period, this sometimes may lead to an automatic victory and you keeping your full right to drive.

If the DMV hearing is scheduled, you are entitled to representation from an attorney. Your Jacksonville DUI Defense Attorney will receive a packet of information regarding the stop so that all avenues can be attacked. The most common defenses are to attack the “probable cause” the officer claimed to have found or the actual physical control of the arrested individual over the car. There are multiple defenses that could be available based on the case, your DUI defense lawyer can help navigate the most effective ones.

Unfortunately, these hearings are often an uphill battle. If the DMV upholds the suspension after a formal review hearing, you will have a period known as “hard time” where you cannot drive for any reason. Once that hard time is up, the lawyer can assist you in getting back on the road with another restricted license for the remainder of the overall suspension period. 

Criminal Case

Following a first DUI arrest the State of Florida will also bring a criminal case in the local County Court. This will mean multiple court appearances.

  • First appearance – This is the time for the judge to read you the charges and advise you of your rights, such as right to an attorney. Although its difficult sometimes to get representation at First Appearance, if you can, it’s very important to avoid a scenario where a Judge attempts to take a guilty or no contest plea which results in an automatic criminal DUI conviction
  • Arraignment – This is the time for the charges to be read to you and your rights more thoroughly explained.
  • Pretrial Hearing (Disposition, Status Conference, or Plea and Setting) – Setting dates in the trial division are present to address bond conditions, discuss the case with the prosecutor and/or enter a plea. Often a beneficial plea agreement can be crafted by your defense attorney, with the State signing off on it. Other times it makes sense to plead not guilty at these settings and get a trial date. As in the previous two phases listed above, it is also very crucial to have some representation to ensure that the State can’t steamroll you. We can file a waiver of appearance on your behalf so that you will not have to attend the vast majority of these court dates.
  • Motion Hearing – Many of the defenses listed below can be raised through written motion and litigated at a motion hearing. Cases can sometimes be decided at this stage if your attorney is able to prevail and key evidence is excluded.
  • Trial – Sometimes it makes the most sense to apply defenses which can only be raised at trial. This is a huge step in a criminal case, and the best results can usually only be obtained with the best possible attorney you can find.

It’s important to have an attorney who can guide through each of these steps of the case, because a first DUI allegation is a serious criminal allegation.

DUI Penalties in Florida

Driving Under the Influence is dictated by Florida Statutes § 316.193. The maximum penalties are largely determined by the facts surrounding your case, and whether you have any prior convictions for DUI on your record. The following are all charged as misdemeanors.

First DUI (under .15 BAC)

  • Up to six months in jail
    • Nine months if greater than a .15
  • DUI school
  • Up to one year of probation
  • Six months driver’s license suspension
  • $500 to $1,000 fine
  • Victim impact panel class
  • 50 hours community service
  • Vehicle immobilization for 10 days

First DUI (over .15 BAC or minor passenger)

  • All of the above penalties
  • Maximum jail of up to 9 months
  • Mandatory six months of Ignition Interlock
  • $1,000 to $2,000 fine

Second DUI (under .15 BAC)

  • All of the first DUI penalties
  • Minimum ten days of jail if first was within five years
  • Maximum nine months of jail
  • Five years driver’s license suspension if within five years of first
  • Six months to a year driver’s license suspension if outside five years since first conviction.
  • $1,000 to $2,000 fine
  • Mandatory one year of Ignition Interlock
  • Thirty days of vehicle immobilization if DUI is within three years of first

Second DUI (over .15 BAC, or minor passenger)

  • All of the above penalties
  • Maximum jail of up to 12 months
  • $2,000 to $4,000 fine

Third DUI more than 10 years after second

  • All of the second DUI penalties
  • Maximum twelve months of jail
  • $2,000 to $5,000 fine, with a minimum of $4,000 if BAC is over .15
  • Mandatory two years of Ignition Interlock
  • Ninety days of vehicle immobilization

DUI with property damage

  • Judge can automatically sentence up to twelve months in jail regardless of priors
  • Restitution could be imposed for the victim

Some DUI’s have enhanced penalties which allow the state to charge the driver with felony offenses. If you have been charged with a felony of any kind it is of the utmost important to speak to a DUI defense attorney who can fight for your freedom.

Third DUI within 10 years of second

  • All of the third DUI penalties
  • Possible felony conviction if State Attorney’s Office elects to file it as a felony
  • A minimum of thirty days of jail
  • A maximum of five years in prison
  • A minimum of five years of a suspended driver’s license, with eligibility to apply for a hardship after two years.

DUI with Serious Injury

  • All the above penalties
  • Minimum of three years driver’s license suspension
  • Possible 3rd Degree Felony

Fourth DUI

  • All the above penalties
  • A PERMANENT license revocation
  • Eligibility for a hardship license after five years

DUI Manslaughter

  • All the above penalties
  • A felony in the second-degree conviction
  • Between four and fifteen years of prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

A qualified criminal defense attorney can help to minimize these ramifications if you have been charged with any of the above. It’s important to schedule a consultation as soon as possible so that the proper defenses can be timely raised .

Defenses to a DUI Charge

Constitutional challenges

  • Probable cause for stop – Most police interactions require probable cause a crime has been committed before the investigation can progress. Sometimes all evidence can be suppressed because the officer lacked probable cause to make the stop in the first place
  • Probable cause for DUI – This rule also applies to the elements of driving intoxicated, police officers aren’t allowed to just breathalyze any driver, if the police lacked probable cause to move forward on an investigation into intoxication, all evidence from there on can be suppressed.
  • Violation of Miranda – It is extremely common for drivers to get into hot water by simply being honest and admitting to drinking. Sometimes these statements can be completely removed from the case if the police didn’t follow the rules when asking questions. This type of challenge can absolutely gut the state’s case.
  • Illegal Search – Police need probable cause to search a vehicle, sometimes they step outside the bounds of the law when looking in trunks and containers. Open bottles of alcohol or paraphernalia can sometimes be excluded on these grounds and seriously weaken the allegations against you.

Science of DUIs

  • Field Sobriety Tests – The evaluations officers perform of on suspected drunk drivers are called Field Sobriety Tests. Police officers aren’t scientists or experts in intoxication, they perform the tests they are told to and try to adhere to their training. This means that often their interpretation of the results and observations can be substantially attacked. The legal team at Lockett Law keeps up to date with emerging science and stays abreast of every possible avenue to attack these results.
  • Chemical Test – Breath, blood and urine tests are all employed in Florida to check if someone has alcohol or drugs in their system. Just because these tests are scientific in nature does not mean they are always perfect. Sometimes they are not administered correctly. Machines are not always checked and calibrated as they should be. The chain of custody prior to chemical testing is sometimes tainted. There are virtually unlimited ways doubt can be cast on these tests prior to trial.

Factual Challenges

  • Actual Physical Control – Were you not actually driving the car or at least behind the wheel? Was someone else driving the car? Were you not able to turn the car on? Was the car not functioning? The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the answer to all of these questions is no. Even the smallest amount of reasonable doubt on one of these means the jury must acquit under the law. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to show that it’s not clear cut who was driving if anyone.
  • Body Worn Camera – Often times the clearest evidence by the police in their report manifests itself as a body worn camera where the person simply does not seem drunk. If you’ve been arrested for a first DUI, your behavior on the scene could potentially be used to disprove and destroy the state’s case.

Driving Under the Influence FAQ

Do I need a lawyer for a DUI?

DUIs are both complicated and life changing. There are some traffic offenses such as speeding tickets where an attorney is not always needed unless there’s some sort of complication. DUIs are not those types of cases, and the ramifications of proceeding without an attorney could negatively affect you for the rest of your life.

How much does a DUI lawyer cost?

This answer is going to depend largely on the type of case, and the complexity. All consultations are free of charge, and we can discuss what type of rate would be appropriate for your case.

Is Driving Under the Influence a felony in Florida?

Driving Under the Influence is a misdemeanor in Florida, but can sometimes be charged as a felony. Felony DUIs can be charged when: the accused has two prior convictions and the last one was within 10 years, when accused has two prior convictions, and when the accusations include serious bodily injury or death.

What is the legal limit for DUI in Florida?

The legal limit in Florida for Driving Under the Influence is .08 BAC.

Can you expunge a DUI in Florida?

DUI records cannot be sealed or expunged under Florida law. This is part of the reason it’s so important to mount the most effective defense from the onset if you have been accused of DUI.

How long will a DUI affect my insurance in Florida?

This depends on the specifics of your case. Generally, most individuals will need to purchase extra insurance for three years after a conviction. Insurance companies can look back to your conviction as an excuse to charge you more for ten years or more. It really depends on the facts of your case, the specifics of the conviction, and the policies of your insurance company.

Will I go to Jail for a DUI?

Standard procedure for a DUI will result in arrest on the day of the offense. Many people receive convictions and never have to return to jail, this is called credit for time served. Some resolve cases through dismissal or extremely mitigated pleas that don’t involve a DUI anymore. A few unfortunate accused individuals have to go to jail or prison for extensive periods. An experienced criminal defense attorney can weigh in on the most likely range of results for your specific circumstances.

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.

DUI Resources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

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