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West Palm Beach DUI Defense Lawyer

West Palm Beach DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested or charged locally for an alleged DUI offense, it is critical that you call an experienced West Palm Beach DUI lawyer as soon as possible. I am William Wallshein, a former prosecutor with 5 years’ experience turned defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the Florida criminal justice system. Throughout my 29 years of experience in criminal law, I have noticed that one of the most common charges West Palm Beach and West Palm Beach residents face is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or “DUI” as it is commonly referred to. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, there can be serious penalties ranging from suspension of a driver’s license to imprisonment. With stakes this high, time is of the essence in responding to DUI allegations, and seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Driving Under the Influence

Under Florida law, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the case of alcohol, anyone found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08% is considered to be legally intoxicated. For minors under the legal drinking age of 21, the “legal limit” is .02%.

Any quantity of illegal drugs in a driver’s bloodstream can give rise to a DUI charge. In fact, even if the driver was prescribed a drug legally, that driver may still be considered to be under the influence of drugs and charged with a DUI if operating a vehicle under those circumstances.

In some cases, people have been cited for DUI when they were not even driving a car, but were found to be in “actual physical control of the car.” For instance, this might mean that the car was on the side of the road, not running, but with the keys in the ignition. The bottom line is that any DUI charge is serious and requires the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

DUI penalties in Florida can be severe, and escalate quickly after the first offense.

First offenders can face the following consequences:

  • A fine ranging from $500 and $1,000;
  • DUI school;
  • License suspension; and
  • A maximum of up to 6 months imprisonment.

Second-time offenders generally face more severe penalties, potentially including:

  • A fine between $1,000 and $2,000;
  • A maximum of 9 months imprisonment; and
  • A mandatory Interlock Ignition Device (IID) installed at the driver’s expense.

A driver’s third DUI in any ten-year period is an automatic felony and is taken very seriously by the courts. A first time felony-offender can face:

  • A fine of up to $5,000;
  • A maximum of 5 years imprisonment; and
  • A mandatory Interlock Ignition Device (IID) installed and maintained at the driver’s expense for 2 years.

Injury or Property Damage

The fines and penalties listed above do not necessarily reflect the impact of any injury or property damage that the driver may have caused while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver does cause injury to a person or damages another’s property, an entirely separate offense may result, meaning that the driver could be subject to additional punishment.

Florida DUI FAQs

Common Questions About Florida DUIs

A trustworthy West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can assess the particular facts of your case to determine the best strategy to defend you when you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence. There is no substitute for the sound advice of an informed attorney who meets with you face-to-face. However, there are some general rules that apply to all cases and common questions that most people have about DUIs in Florida.

Can I Refuse A Breathalyzer or Other Chemical Test?

Yes, unless the police have probable cause to believe you caused serious bodily injury or death while driving drunk.

You should know the pros and cons of refusing a chemical test. It is harder for your attorney to build a strong defense if an authorized official used a properly calibrated and maintained device to administer a chemical test, and the results were a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. With results of .08 or higher, a presumption of guilt attaches to your case. However, Florida has an “implied consent” law that states you are assumed to have given consent to a chemical test by getting a driver’s license. If you refuse a chemical test for the first time, your license will be suspended for a brief period. A second or subsequent refusal to take the test will lead to a suspended license plus a misdemeanor charge.

Will I Go to Jail?

You may be taken to jail immediately after the arrest. If found guilty or if they plead guilty, first-time offenders usually do not receive jail time, even if they are convicted, but the court may impose up to a six-month sentence imprisonment. For repeat offenses, the court may impose imprisonment as part of the sentence, and the period of imprisonment increases with every subsequent offense. If sentenced to prison, the court may require that you serve some or all of the term of your imprisonment in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program. You may also be required to serve prison time if you inflict serious bodily injury or kill someone while driving drunk.

Will I Lose My License?

Yes, if you are convicted of a DUI offense, or if you refuse to take a chemical test. For a first offense, your license will be revoked for a minimum of 180 days or a maximum of one year. With each repeat offense, it will be revoked for increasingly longer periods. You can apply for a hardship reinstatement of your license for your second and third DUI convictions. It becomes much more difficult to apply for this hardship license after a fourth DUI conviction, so you should consult a lawyer to guide you this complex process.

What Defenses Are Available for a DUI?

Constitutional and technical defenses are frequently raised in DUI cases. Your attorney will investigate whether any of these defenses are appropriate, starting with whether the police were entitled to stop your car.

Your attorney also will look at whether the police had probable cause to arrest you. When deciding whether to arrest you, the police must consider factors that include slurred speech, dangerous operation of the vehicle, admissions, and poor performance on a field sobriety test. Chemical tests are fairly reliable, but the device used to administer them must be properly calibrated and maintained for the test result to be considered accurate. Medications and diabetes can adversely affect test results. If there is any irregularity in the procedures used to arrest you, your attorney will try to get that evidence suppressed. Your attorney will also assess the credibility of witnesses and the applicability of any other defenses.

Should I Hire an Attorney for a DUI Charge?

Yes, you should retain a criminal defense attorney with DUI defense experience to represent you in DUI proceedings.

Defendants who choose to plead guilty will get a criminal record. They are also subject to the possibility of much more serious penalties for any future DUI charges. You should retain an experienced West Palm Beach DUI defense attorney the first time you are charged with a DUI to avoid harsh penalties.

My name is William Wallshein. I use insights culled from five years as a state prosecutor and 30 years of legal practice to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. I meet with clients at my West Palm Beach office, located near I-95 and PGA Boulevard, or at my West Palm Beach office. Call 561-533-1221 or contact me through my online form. We accept credit cards.

What To Do if You Have Been Charged With a DUI

If you are facing DUI charges, you need to act quickly. In Florida, those charged with DUI have only 10 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you do not request a hearing within this time period, there is little chance of preventing an automatic suspension of driving privileges until your case goes to trial.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI offense, you should consult with an established Florida criminal defense attorney immediately. I have over 29 years of criminal law experience. I will pursue all available defenses, and will challenge all aspects of the prosecution’s case, such as evidence obtained through illegal traffic stops. I am a passionate, knowledgeable defender of the accused, and will not rest until I have done everything possible to defend your rights and your freedom. With offices in West Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, I represent clients in criminal defense matters throughout South Florida. Call 561-533-1221 today, or contact my firm online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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