Tampa DUI Defense Lawyer
A drunk driving arrest can have far-reaching consequences in every area of your life. In addition to typical penalties such as fines, jail time or probation, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) can also lead to DUI school, placement of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and, of course, suspension of your driver’s license. Without a license, your ability to get to your job or school can be impacted. You can’t shop, transport your kids or accomplish anything outside the house. If your job requires driving or holding a commercial driver’s license, you could get fired as well. The consequences of a DUI can be far worse in comparison to other misdemeanor offenses.
Tampa DUI defense lawyer Bryant Scriven is a former DUI prosecutor who has handled countless drunk driving cases from both sides. Bryant knows the ins and outs of Florida DUI law as well as any county prosecutor and is skilled and experienced in putting forward a strong defense against drunk driving charges. Additionally, at Scriven Law, we are dedicated to achieving the best results and favorable outcomes for our clients, whether that means obtaining a dismissal or reduction of charges, negotiating a positive outcome like probation, or winning an acquittal or not guilty verdict at trial. Call Scriven Law, P.A., for immediate assistance after a DUI arrest in Tampa, and let us get to work building a strong and viable defense in your case.
What Is Drunk Driving in Florida?
Driving under the Influence (DUI) is measured by the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream, known as blood-alcohol concentration or blood-alcohol content (BAC). A BAC of just .08% is enough to be charged with DUI in Florida. Holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) can be charged with DUI for measuring as little as .04% BAC, and drivers under 21 with practically any measurable alcohol in their bloodstream (.02%) can be arrested for DUI.
Note that anyone can be arrested for DUI with less than .08% BAC if there is other evidence their driving was impaired, such as if the officer observed weaving, drifting out of the lane or other suspicious driving behavior.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in Florida?
The penalties for a DUI conviction on a first offense can include fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, a jail sentence up to six months, getting ordered into treatment, a driver’s license suspension ranging from six months to a year, a ten-day vehicle impoundment, and a requirement to perform up to 50 hours of community service or pay $10 for every hour of service not performed.
Penalties, including the amount of the fine, the length of the license suspension and the length of a possible jail sentence, increase if you have previous DUI convictions within the applicable look-back or “washout” period, which may be five or ten years from your first offense. Subsequent convictions also come with a mandatory jail sentence of at least 48 hours and as much as ten or 30 days, depending on the number of priors.
The penalties described above for even a first offense can also be enhanced if the defendant had a minor in the vehicle at the time of arrest or a BAC of .15% or more. DUI can also be charged as a felony under certain defined circumstances.
How Do You Defend Against DUI Prosecutions?
There is only one way to defend against DUI charges in Florida. You need a skilled attorney who knows that an all-out frontal attack on the prosecution’s case is the only way to get the best possible outcome. The police take DUI charges seriously and often neglect your rights when they are pulling you over, administering the breath tests, and pressing their case against you.
At the Law Offices of Bryant A. Scriven, P.A., we have the experience to investigate and challenge every part of your DUI charge. We’ll look at all of the following:
The traffic stop – Did the police have reason to pull you over in the first place, either based on reasonable suspicion you were driving impaired or committing some other violation? Did the police exceed their initial authority over the course of the stop?
Breath tests and field tests – Did the police have probable cause to give you a breathalyzer? Chemical breath tests must only be administered upon reasonable cause and incident to a lawful arrest. Were you coerced or compelled into taking field sobriety tests? These tests are often unreliable, subjective measures of intoxication, and you should be lawfully allowed to refuse them without consequence.
Rights of the accused – Police conduct during a stop and subsequent arrest must be respectful of your constitutional rights. If you refused to take a breath test, were you informed of the consequences of a refusal, including the automatic suspension of your driver’s license and misdemeanor charges?
Can I Refuse to Take the Breath Test?
Anyone who drives in the state of Florida has given their “implied consent” to submit to a chemical test when required by the police. A chemical test includes a blood or breath test for alcohol or a urine test for drugs, but it does not include a field sobriety test such as the “one-leg stand” test or the “walk-and-turn” test. If you refuse to take a chemical test when ordered to, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year, or 18 months if you previously had your license suspended for refusing to test. Your refusal can be used against you in your DUI trial, and the refusal itself is a separate misdemeanor you could be charged with and prosecuted for.
How Do I Challenge a Driver’s License Suspension?
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) will move to suspend your driver’s license after a DUI arrest, even if the charges against you are dropped or you are never convicted. Upon arrest, you will typically be given a ten-day temporary permit before your license is suspended for six months (on a first offense).
You have ten days to request a formal or informal review with FLHSMV. At an informal review, a hearing officer reviews materials submitted by the parties, while in a formal review, the hearing officer can also issue subpoenas and examine witnesses under oath. You can challenge the suspension on the grounds the officer did not have probable cause to test you, or you can otherwise dispute the alleged facts surrounding the test or refusal to take the test. The hearing officer will decide which side presented stronger evidence and rule accordingly.
Some police officers have presented to hearing officers hundreds or thousands of times in their careers; you need an experienced attorney to present your evidence and arguments compellingly and persuasively. You may also have a limited ability to appeal your suspension in court if you and your lawyer agree this would be a worthwhile step to pursue.
The evidence used against you in the FLHSMV review will not be used against you in your DUI trial, just as the outcome of your DUI case doesn’t affect the administrative suspension. You must request a hearing within ten days after your arrest if you want a chance at avoiding a suspension of your driver’s license.
Save Your License and Stay Out of Jail. Contact Our Tampa DUI Defense Lawyer Today.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, call a Tampa DUI lawyer at Scriven Law, P.A., for immediate assistance. We’ll move right away to contest your driver’s license suspension while advising you and preparing a strong defense against your DUI charges to obtain a favorable outcome in your case.