Jacksonville FL DUI Defense Representation
Experienced Attorney for DUI Offences, Underage DUI, and Felony Offenses in Jacksonville
A person can be accused and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if he or she is in control of or driving a vehicle within the State of Florida while impaired. DUI accusations don’t just stop with alcohol, either – other controlled and non-controlled substances may apply. A person can be impaired from any chemical substance detailed in the Florida Statutes. Not only are illegal drugs listed (e.g., marijuana, crack, or meth), but the Statutes also include prescription drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, methadone, or oxycodone.
While you may have thought you were not impaired – after all, you could walk, talk, and perform other normal actions – you may still be considered impaired under the law. This may even lead to a DUI arrest.
In Florida, the presumed level of impairment is 0.08. There are generally two ways to measure if a person is over the legal limit:
- Blood alcohol level and breath alcohol level tests
- Urine tests, which may be administered by authorities if you are suspected of being under the influence of drugs or narcotics
Given the ramifications of a potential conviction, it’s imperative to seek out experienced attorneys to represent you. Our firm has defended hundreds of alcohol-related cases, and we have over 15 years combined legal service to the citizens of Duval County and the surrounding counties of Northeast Florida. Let us put our experience, skill, and knowledge to work for you to help you get the defense you deserve.
First, Second, and Third DUI Offenses
If you have been arrested or charged with your first DUI offense, the prospective penalties can be frightening. Defending your case and determining whether you can get your license back all starts with an administrative hearing, if you are eligible, with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV). The administrative hearing is separate from the criminal charges that you may be facing. An arrest or charge does not necessarily mean you will be convicted; in fact, in some cases, it may be possible to have the charge dismissed or reduced to a reckless driving ticket.
When you’re arrested or charged with your second DUI offense, the penalties and sanctions are more severe than those of a first offense. Furthermore, for a third offense, the punishments are even more serious. Specifically, when it comes to a third DUI charge, having experienced legal counsel can mean the difference between you beating the charge or going to jail.
The Penalties of a DUI Offense
If you are convicted of a first DUI offense, you could be fined between $500 and $1,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. You will be required to attend a court ordered alcohol class, mandatory suspension of your license for a minimum of six months to one year (independent from the administrative suspension), and probation for up to one year. The court will require you to complete a minimum of 50 hours of community service or pay $10.00 per hour of required community service (if the court will allow this “buyout” provision), and your vehicle will be impounded for 10 days (outside of your jail time).
If you had a minor in the vehicle or your breath or blood alcohol level was 0.15 or more, fines are between $1,000 and $2,000 and you could go to jail for a maximum period of nine months. If the breath alcohol level or blood alcohol level was 0.15 or higher, an approved ignition interlock device must be installed at your expense for at least six months on every vehicle that you own or lease individually or jointly. You must also undergo monthly probation visits and a completion of a substance abuse course. If you are referred for treatment during the course, you are then required to pay for all evaluations, education, and treatment.
Similarly, anyone who causes personal injury or property damage to another person while driving impaired will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, incurring $1,000 or less in fines and up to one year in jail. Moreover, if the injury to other person(s) is deemed great, you may be charged with felony driving while intoxicated, which means you could be facing up to five years in a Florida State prison.
If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, you will be fined between $1,000 and $2,000 and could be imprisoned for up to a maximum of nine months in jail. There is a minimum of six months to one year driver’s license suspension (independent from the administrative suspension) unless this second DUI charge is within five years of the first DUI. If it is within five years, your driver’s license will be revoked for five years but you may be eligible for a hardship license reinstatement after one year. If convicted, an approved ignition interlock device must be installed at your expense for at least one year on every vehicle that you own or lease individually or jointly after you qualify for a license reinstatement. Also, the court will require 10 days of imprisonment (if this second offense was within five years of your first DUI offense) and the impoundment of all vehicles owned or leased by you for 30 days (not during your incarceration). You will also be required to attend DUI school following your conviction. Remember, the administrative hearing is separate from your second DUI criminal case.
If you had a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle or your breath or blood alcohol level was 0.15 or more, fines are between $2,000 and $4,000 and you face imprisonment for less than one year. If the breath alcohol level or blood alcohol level was 0.15 or higher, an approved ignition interlock device must also be installed at the your expense for at least three years on every vehicle that you own or lease after reinstatement of a permanent or restricted license. You also must undergo monthly probation visits and completion of a substance abuse course. If you are referred for treatment during the course, you are then required to pay for all evaluations, education, and treatment. The term and nature of the evaluations and treatment is ultimately determined by the court and your probation officer.
The consequences of a conviction for a third DUI offense are very serious. If the prior DUI conviction was within the last 10 years and you are convicted of a third offense, you will be fined up to $5,000 and you could be imprisoned for up to five years. There is a minimum 10 years driver’s license suspension (independent from the administrative suspension), but you may be eligible for a hardship license reinstatement after two years, depending on the age and nature of your prior DUI convictions.
If convicted, an approved ignition interlock device must be installed at your expense for at least two years on every vehicle that you own or lease after you qualify for a license reinstatement. Also, the court will require 30 days of imprisonment in the county jail and the impoundment of all vehicles owned or leased by you for 90 days (not during your incarceration), monthly probation visits, and completion of a substance abuse course with a psychological exam. If you are referred for treatment during the course, you are then required to pay for all evaluations, education, and treatment. You will also be required to attend advanced DUI school following your conviction.
DUI Offenses among Underage Drinkers
Anyone arrested for driving under the influence in Florida faces serious immediate and long-term repercussions. For drivers under the age of 21, the consequences can be even more severe.
Like most states, Florida imposes a lower blood alcohol level limit for drivers under the age of 21. While the limit for the general population is 0.08, for underage drivers, the limit is 0.02.
If you are pulled over and the police suspect that you were driving under the influence, a field sobriety test will generally be performed. This is a simple test to evaluate your cognitive abilities. Here, there are certain standardized methods that the police are required to use. The most common variant in Florida is standing on one leg, walking in a straight line, and then turning around.
If your performance on the field sobriety tests suggests that you might be under the influence, the arresting officer can require you to take a Breathalyzer or a chemical (e.g., blood or urine) test. This is what the police will use to establish your blood alcohol level. If you are under 21 and the test indicates that your blood alcohol level is 0.02 or above, you will be arrested for DUI.
If you are under 21 and you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer may detain you, request that you complete a breath alcohol level test, and take away your driver’s license. You may be issued a temporary 10-day permit to drive. Your license will be suspended for the first breath or blood alcohol level of 0.02 or above for six months. For the second or successive offenses, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you refuse to submit to a breath alcohol level test, your license will also be suspended for one year. For subsequent refusals, your license will be suspended for 18 months. If your breath or blood alcohol level is at or above 0.05, you must complete a substance abuse assessment and class.
Frequently Asked Questions for Underage DUIs
Q: What If I Refused the Breathalyzer or Urine Sample?
If you refused to take the Breathalyzer or provide a urine or blood sample, the state can use this as evidence against you. In other words, the fact that you didn’t want to take the test will be used to suggest that you may have been violating the law.
Refusal to take a breath, urine, or blood test is also grounds for a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for a first offense. Your license can be suspended even if you aren’t ultimately found guilty of DUI at trial. If you’ve been convicted of DUI in the past, refusal to submit to a breath test or chemical test is a misdemeanor separate from your DUI.
Q: What If I Took the Tests and Failed?
If you took the tests and failed, you’re not alone. In fact, this is the situation facing the vast majority of our clients. There are a number of different ways that field sobriety and blood-alcohol results can be challenged and invalidated. However, even if your test results stick, we still have plenty of options for seeking to reduce or avoid penalties for your DUI arrest.
Q: What Consequences Should I Expect after an Underage DUI Conviction?
As an underage driver, you face severe penalties if convicted of driving under the influence. For a standard first-time offense, these include administrative and criminal driver’s license suspensions, fines, costs to attend mandatory education programs, community service, and probation. The penalties can become much more severe – up to and including serious prison time – if your arrest involved any of these aggravating factors:
- Minors present in the vehicle
- Excessive speeding or other dangerous acts
- Accident involving injuries or death
- Severely elevated blood alcohol level
In addition to the state-imposed administrative and criminal penalties (not to mention increased insurance premiums for years to come), you also face the implications of being required to disclose your conviction on job applications and college admissions materials. If you’re already in college, you can even face school sanctions as a result of a criminal DUI conviction.
Simply put, there is too much at stake to risk going to court without an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney on your side.
Felony DUI Offenses
If you have been arrested or charged with a felony DUI offense, know that this offense is far more serious than a typical misdemeanor DUI offense. In a felony case, you could be facing up to five years or more, depending on the charge, in a Florida State prison. The ramifications of a felony DUI conviction are serious and permanent.
DUI offenses resulting in third-degree felonies include conviction of a third DUI within 10 years of the prior conviction, a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction regardless of when the prior offense occurred, or DUI with serious bodily injury to another person. A DUI manslaughter or vehicular homicide charge may be filed as a second- or first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
The Penalties for Felony DUIs
The consequences of a felony DUI conviction can be quite harsh:
- Third-degree felony: Penalties include up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years incarceration.
- Second-degree felony: Subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in jail.
- First-degree felony: Penalties can include up to $10,000 in fines and incarceration up to 30 years.
Other penalties may require an approved ignition interlock device to be installed at your expense on any vehicle that you own (or lease individually or jointly), community service, monthly probation visits, completion of a substance abuse course, a DUI course, psychological assessment, and court costs and fees.
DUI Administrative Hearings in Jacksonville
When you are arrested for DUI, you are given a 10-day temporary driving permit. Immediately after being arrested for DUI, you will have to request a hearing with the Florida DMV to contest the administrative license suspension. You only have 10 days after your arrest to request this important hearing. If you wait beyond the 10-day period, you effectively waive your right to the hearing. This hearing will determine whether your driver’s license will be revoked administratively and for how long.
There is either an informal or formal administrative license suspension hearing in Florida. With an informal administrative license hearing, the administrator examines evidence from you or the police officer but does not allow witness testimony. In a formal administrative license hearing, you are allowed to present and cross-examine witnesses.
Trust Us: Hire an Experienced Jacksonville DUI Defense Attorney for Your Case
Facing a DUI charge on your own or hiring inexperienced and incompetent legal counsel could spell disaster for your life – not to mention, it could land you in jail. Furthermore, such a conviction will affect your life more than you may have ever realized. It will show up on your driving record, and it is likely to be discovered while you’re applying for jobs. Some employers require your driving record or a background check. Your insurance company may cancel your insurance or label you a high risk, which will mean a spike in your rates.
Given these harsh realities, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Jacksonville DUI defense attorney, right away. The consultation and case evaluation is always free; in most cases, same-day-appointments are available. Call us at 904.356.8618 or fill out our online contact form so we can start helping you today.