Florida DUI FAQs
Common Questions About Florida DUIs
A trustworthy Palm Beach Gardens 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 Palm Beach Gardens 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.