Being arrested and charged with a DUI is a criminal matter that is handled in court. Although you have a right to defend yourself, trying to resolve the case on your own could be challenging and have costly consequences. The criminal justice system is complex; various rules and laws exist that concern your rights and what you can and can’t do during your trial. One small mistake could result in a conviction that carries severe penalties.
If you’re wondering whether or not to hire a lawyer for a DUI matter, the answer is “yes.”
WHAT ARE FLORIDA’S DUI LAWS?
You could be charged with a DUI if you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Specifically, a person violates Florida Statute 316.193 if they:
- Were driving or were in physical control of a vehicle and
- The amount of drugs and/or alcohol in their system impaired their normal faculties, or
- The results of a chemical test show that they had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DUI?
The penalties you could face for a DUI conviction depend on the specifics of your circumstances, such as whether or not this was your first DUI or if you caused an accident that resulted in property damage or injury.
For a first-time DUI conviction, the potential penalties include:
- A fine between $500 and $1,000
- Jail time of up to 6 months
The penalties for a second DUI conviction increase to:
- A fine between $1,000 and $2,000
- Jail time of up to 9 months
- Mandatory ignition interlock device installation for 1 year
If you commit a third DUI offense within 10 years of your last conviction, you could be charged with a third-degree felony.
The potential penalties for a third DUI conviction include:
- A fine of up to $5,000
- A prison sentence of up to 5 years
- Mandatory ignition interlock device installation for 2 years
The above descriptions of the DUI law give broad overviews of the offense and its punishments, but various nuances exist that could affect both the level of charge you’re facing and the type of penalties. When you hire an attorney for your case, they can help you understand your specific charges and the potential outcomes.
WHAT IF I PLAN TO PLEAD GUILTY? DO I NEED A LAWYER THEN?
Before your DUI arrest, you might have taken a field sobriety test and then a chemical test after police had you in custody. You might think that the results prove you were under the influence, so you should just plead guilty and/or accept a plea deal. Even if that’s the way you’re considering going, contacting an attorney is still a good idea.
A skilled lawyer knows that various defenses could be brought up to fight accusations and will look at the entirety of your situation to build a legal strategy, seeking to get the charges dropped or dismissed. Evidence such as the outcome of a field sobriety test could be challenged, as they are difficult for many people, and things such as illness or fatigue could have affected how you performed. Additionally, if the chemical test equipment was faulty, the results could have been skewed.
WERE YOUR RIGHTS OR COURT RULES VIOLATED?
In criminal matters, you do have rights, and if they were violated, the prosecutor’s evidence or arguments could be weakened. An experienced attorney would be able to tell you whether or not your traffic stop or arrest was legal. If they weren’t, that could strengthen your case.
Additionally, the court has rules of evidence that must be followed. If the prosecutor plans to introduce something that breaks those rules, it could be suppressed. Your lawyer would know what can and can’t be submitted at trial.
FACING A DUI CHARGE? SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION WITH ROEGIERS LAW.
A DUI conviction could have profound effects on your life, which is why it is essential to have an lawyer by your side throughout the process. Attorney Kathryn Roegiers has nearly 10 years of experience and knows how to effectively handle these types of cases.
Discuss your circumstances during a free consultation by calling (772) 266-3088 or filling out an online contact form.