Legal Representation for Your DUI in St. Augustine or St. Johns County
A DUI arrest in St. Augustine can permanently change the course of your life, leaving you with hefty fines and penalties, no driver’s license, and limited career opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to act quickly after you have been stopped under suspicion of driving while impaired. Regardless of the circumstances that lead to a DUI stop or conviction, having skilled legal representation can help reduce or erase charges.
Penalties of a DUI in St. Johns County, FL
You might be wondering if it’s worth it to hire a DUI lawyer in St. Augustine. When you consider the possible consequences of a DUI—financial and otherwise—you see the benefits of hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. At best, a DUI conviction leads to:
- A fine of $500 for a first conviction or a fine of $1,000 for a second conviction
- After a second DUI, an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for at least one year
- A felony charge on your third or subsequent DUI conviction
- Increased insurance costs
- A permanent criminal record
The court may decide to make an example of you and impose even harsher penalties. Maximum penalties in Florida include:
- $1,000 for a first conviction and $2,000 for a second conviction
- Six months of imprisonment for a first conviction and nine months of imprisonment for a second conviction
- Placement of an ignition interlock vehicles on family members’ vehicles at your expense
- Loss of vehicle insurance
- Permanent loss of license
This only covers the immediate financial and legal ramifications of a first or second DUI; subsequent charges have more severe penalties and sentencing standards. Beyond the financial and legal consequences, a DUI conviction has a ripple effect on the rest of your life. It could prevent you from getting certified or licensed in your chosen career field, keep you out of any job that requires you to drive a company vehicle, limit your volunteering options, and wreak havoc on your reputation in the community.
When a DUI Causes Bodily Harm or Property Damage
A DUI charge that’s paired with other misdemeanor or felony charges significantly increases the risk of jail time and expensive fines. Per Florida statute 316.193, for example, a DUI manslaughter conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. In this situation, you could be facing a second-degree felony. If you commit a hit-and-run while under the influence, it increases to a first-degree DUI felony. There are no positive outcomes for a DUI conviction, but there are many negative outcomes that can change your entire future—it’s not worth risking it and trying to defend yourself.
Defenses Against DUI Charges
With an experienced DUI lawyer in St. Augustine, you stand a chance of beating your DUI charges. There are several ways your attorney might choose to defend you against DUI charges, including but not limited to:
- Inaccurate Breathalyzer test results or field test results; proving that a test was conducted improperly or yielded inaccurate results can get this evidence dismissed
- Medical condition that mimics the signs of impaired driving or a high BAC level
- Improper timing of a Breathalyzer or blood test—if you have to wait a long period of time before taking a blood, urine, or breath test, your BAC could be higher than it was at the time of arrest
- Contaminated blood or urine samples that should be dismissed as evidence
- Illegal traffic stop that doesn’t meet probable cause standards
Why You Need a St Augustine DUI Defense Lawyer
It’s important to think about the risks of defending yourself in a DUI case. You may believe that you can beat the system and advocate for yourself, but remember—prosecutors often try to secure severe penalties for drunk drivers. Trying to protect your rights against an experienced prosecutor and a legal system that’s very harsh on impaired drivers could lead to a lengthy jail sentence and thousands of dollars in fines. Your attorney will look at the circumstances of your case, your medical background, and other factors to figure out which defense strategy best suits your situation.
Additionally, the laws regarding impaired driving change frequently. They rarely change to the benefit of suspects. Legislators tend to impose stricter punishments on those convicted of driving under the influence, due in part to public opinion of DUI cases and the fact that voters tend to favor harsher penalties. You don’t just need an attorney—you need an attorney who specializes in DUI cases, makes it a priority to stay on top of Florida state law, and has a long history of getting DUI charges dismissed or reduced.
If there are additional charges or circumstances that complicate your case, it’s crucial to select an attorney with relevant experience. If you’re facing a felony DUI, an underage DUI charge, a third or fourth DUI arrest, or manslaughter charges, there is a lot at stake. Hiring a St. Augustine attorney gives you a chance at beating your charges.
Your Next Steps After a DUI Arrest
After you’re arrested for driving under the influence, you have to think and act quickly to protect your rights and your possibility of a bright future. If you’re stopped for driving under the influence, stay quiet and be respectful of the officer. Becoming belligerent can make a risky situation even worse for you. The next step: call a lawyer. Remember, the police officers are not on your side, and anything you say can be used against you. No matter how innocent a statement may seem, keep it to yourself and wait until your lawyer is present to speak with the police.
Turn to Lockett Law for Your St. Johns County DUI Defense Needs
The team at Lockett Law has extensive experience in DUI litigation. Our goal is to get your DUI charges dismissed and protect your rights throughout the entire process. We’re ready to listen, learn the specifics of your case, and build a strong defense. To schedule your free consultation, call the Jacksonville Beach office of Lockett Law at (904) 858-9818.