West Palm Beach DUI Defense Attorney
In Florida, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is treated as a criminal offense. Impairment of "normal faculties" or an illegal blood or breath alcohol level of.08 or above constitutes proof of the offense. When caught for the first time, you can expect to pay a fine of between $500 and $2000.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
When it comes to DUI laws, Florida is among the toughest in the country. The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe: time in jail, monetary fines, community service, and the need to have an ignition interlock device installed, among other things. Administrative and civil penalties, such as the suspension or revocation of the driver's license, may be imposed in addition to criminal penalties.
A DUI arrest is a scary prospect for many people. Keep in mind that just because you were pulled over does not mean you will be found guilty of driving under the influence. Having the right DUI defense lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL can help you defend your good name and move on with your life after a DUI charge.
DUI Lawyer in Palm Beach County
You have only ten (10) days from the time of your arrest to request a formal review hearing in order to keep your driver's license. Do NOT give up your legal options by requesting reinstatement of hardship privileges right away. Request a hearing or a hardship license right away.
Hiring legal representation during that initial 10-day window is crucial. Consult with an attorney at the Law Offices of Ian Goldstein for free during a confidential consultation before making any final decisions.
What is a DUI in Florida?
If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is operating a motor vehicle, or is in "actual physical control" of one, they are considered to be driving under the influence under Florida law (Section 316.193). Evidence of impairment of normal faculties, such as hearing, vision, or thought, is necessary for a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The term "normal faculties" in Florida's DUI laws refers to one's mental and physical capabilities to carry out ordinary tasks like driving, seeing, hearing, balancing, and talking.
The prosecution also has another method of proving a DUI that does not rely on the defendant's level of impairment. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of.08 in Florida at the time you were driving, you can be convicted of DUI under Florida's "per se" version of a DUI even if the jury is not convinced that you were impaired. There are several methods available to law enforcement for determining a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC), including a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test. The breath test offered by the Florida Intoxilyzer 8000 is the state's most frequently requested chemical test.
Whatever alternative means are used to allege this offense, the punishments and penalties are the same. Even though either theory of proof can be asserted at trial, the defendant will only face punishment for one count of DUI regardless of which theory of proof was used to establish guilt.
DUI in a Parked Car?
The fact that a person can be charged with DUI in Florida even if they were not driving is one of the state's more perplexing features. Florida law makes it illegal for an intoxicated person to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
Some drunk drivers have been arrested after they stopped to "sleep it off" in a parking garage. When deciding whether or not to overturn a motion to dismiss, the courts can consider a number of factors, including:
- The status of the engine when the police officer arrived;
- The location where the car was left;
- If there was heat coming from under the hood, indicating that the car had been driven recently;
- If the key is in the ignition;
- Whereabouts of the keys and whether or not the defendant had easy access to them;
- What position, if any, the defendant was in while behind the wheel;
- If the car could be driven or if there was a mechanical issue that prevented it from doing so.
Your lawyer can also file a "motion to dismiss" the DUI charge if there isn't enough evidence to prove you were in "actual physical control" of the vehicle.
A criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida can assist you in building a solid defense against driving under the influence charges if you were not in control of the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
Florida's Implied Consent Law
The state of Florida enforces an implied consent law. Under Florida Statutes Annotated 316.1932, the state's implied consent law, any Florida resident who gets behind the wheel is presumed to have given their consent to submit to a chemical test in the event of a DUI stop. This does not, however, constitute consent to participate in field sobriety test exercises.
Civil penalties, including an automatic license suspension for up to a year, are imposed on drivers who refuse to submit to breath, blood, or urine samples for BAC testing. A license suspension of up to 18 months will occur after a second refusal of a chemical test.
Any driver who refuses a test will be immediately arrested and issued a "Notice of Suspension." It is crucial to understand that a driver has only ten (10) days following an arrest to challenge the suspension of their driving privileges, or to request a hardship license.
If a driver wishes to contest their license suspension, they must do so within the allotted 10 days by filing a Formal Review Hearing request with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you get a work or business driving permit which is valid pending the outcome of your formal review hearing.
The suspension of your driving privileges is unrelated to any criminal proceedings that may be pending against you for driving under the influence. The suspension is a civil penalty, while the criminal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are even more serious. As a result, there are circumstances in which an individual might not be convicted of DUI but still face the administrative DUI suspension.
Types of DUI Charges in Florida
DUI with Serious Bodily Harm
If another person was hurt as a result of the crime, it would be classified as driving under the influence with serious bodily injury. The driver faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and the suspension or revocation of their driver's license if convicted of this third-degree felony.
Any person who sustains a serious injury as a result of the car accident is considered "seriously injured" under Florida Statute 316.193(3). Everyone in the defendant's car is fair game, including the driver. Injuries that are likely to result in death include those that cause permanent disfigurement, the loss of or impairment to any bodily function, or any injury that causes physical dismemberment.
If a driver under the age of 21 has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 or higher, they are considered impaired and can be arrested for a Juvenile DUI. The "zero tolerance" policy in Florida means that if an underage driver is caught with alcohol in their system, they will be charged with DUI.
If a minor under 21 is caught driving under the influence for the first time, they could face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, community service, the suspension of their driver's license for up to six months, and the impoundment of their vehicle.
DUI with Property Damage
If property is damaged in addition to the DUI, then the offence is classified as DUI with Property Damage. When the driver causes damage to another vehicle or someone's property, or when the driver causes minor bodily injury to someone, the penalties for the incident increase. The maximum possible sentence of imprisonment has been increased, and a higher monetary fine has also been added to the list of increased penalties.
Even if the driver has no prior criminal history, the crime can still be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute 316.193(3), carrying a sentence of up to 12 months in county jail and fines of up to $2,000. The judge must also impose additional conditions, such as probation. The court may also order the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
Someone can be charged with DUI manslaughter if they are found to be at fault for another person's death while driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination thereof. Criminal charges for pregnancy-related deaths caused by drunk driving are also a possibility under Florida law (Statutes of Florida, Annotated, 316.193).
DUI manslaughter is punishable in Florida by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, as it is considered a second-degree felony. The charge carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 4 years. If the driver is also suspected of fleeing the scene of an accident, the crime could be charged as a first-degree felony in Florida, carrying a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
West Palm Beach DUI Lawyer Near Me
Not everyone who is arrested for driving under the influence ends up being found guilty of the crime. The best chance you have of having your charges reduced or dropped entirely is to hire a West Palm Beach DUI defense attorney who can craft a solid defense strategy while also protecting your rights. To discuss your case in a free and private consultation with attorney Ian Goldstein, call (561) 600-0950 today.
Call the Law Offices of Ian Goldstein to speak with a knowledgeable DUI attorney in Palm Beach County, FL about your case, regardless of whether it involves a breath, blood, or urine test, or a refusal to submit to testing.