Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is a serious criminal offense in every state in the country, and each state enforces different laws and penalties for DUI violations. In Florida, any driver who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs faces a wide range of penalties. Additionally, penalties increase significantly for defendants arrested for second or third DUI violations. Prosecutors in Florida tend to pursue convictions very aggressively in these cases, so it’s vital to have defense counsel you can trust if you have been recently arrested for DUI in the Brevard County, FL, area.
Chang Law Firm is capable of providing the defense counsel you need when charged with DUI in Brevard County, FL. Our team has helped many past clients avoid conviction when possible and mitigated their penalties when necessary. If you committed the offense in question, we would focus on your options for lightening your penalty. If you were wrongfully arrested, we would help you seek case dismissal and potentially help you avoid the penalties a DUI conviction usually carries.
Florida’s implied consent law for DUI testing means that all Florida drivers give their implied consent to a chemical test if they are lawfully arrested for DUI. Many interpret this to mean they must submit to field sobriety tests and preliminary alcohol screenings, but this isn’t necessarily true. Implied consent applies to DUI tests administered to suspects who have been lawfully arrested; there is no legal requirement for a driver to submit to a field sobriety test or preliminary alcohol screening. Unfortunately, refusal to take such a test may cast further suspicion on the driver.
If a police officer arrests the driver for suspected DUI, the implied consent law comes into play, and the driver must decide whether submitting to the test would be in their best interests. Refusal to test will lead to an automatic administrative suspension of their driver’s license and a harsher penalty if they are later convicted of DUI. Even if the case is dismissed, it can still be incredibly disruptive and difficult to resolve an administrative suspension from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
When a driver has refused a lawful test for DUI and is later convicted, their refusal counts as a misdemeanor itself with a $1,000 fine and up to one year in county jail. Ultimately, it may come down to a choice between the possible penalties for refusal and those you would face if convicted of DUI, and it’s best to consult an experienced Brevard County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you’re unsure of the best options in your situation.
DUI is taken very seriously in Florida and throughout the United States. The penalties for DUI in Brevard County typically hinge on the defendant’s level of intoxication, their prior criminal record, and whether they caused injury and/or damage while driving under the influence. When it comes to testing for DUI, Florida police officers can collect blood, breath, and/or urine samples to test for intoxication.
When it comes to alcohol, blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is measured, and anything over .08% BAC qualifies as a DUI violation. For commercial drivers, the BAC limit is only .04%, and a zero-tolerance policy applies to drivers under 21. Drug-related DUI can generate much more complex cases. Different illicit substances metabolize in the human body at different rates. The intoxicating effects of these substances also vary from person to person. Ultimately, there could be a very substantial difference between the time a drug remains detectable in a person’s body and the time the drug’s intoxicating effects actually last. For example, marijuana’s intoxicating effects only last a few hours for most users, but the drug can remain detectable in a person’s bloodstream for much longer, potentially up to a month or longer for a daily or frequent user.
Ultimately, the test used to confirm your intoxication status could easily become a point of contention in your impending case. Your defense attorney may be able to challenge the grounds on which the police secured probable cause and conducted your arrest, or you may have room to argue the police failed to administer your test correctly. An experienced attorney may also be necessary to challenge a lab’s test results, cite previous issues with the lab’s work, or highlight the margin for error in their testing methods.
Like most other US states, Florida’s DUI penalties are flexible and determined on a case-by-case basis by considering the unique details of each violation. However, once a defendant is confirmed to have broken Florida’s DUI law, the severity of their actions and their past DUI record are two of the most important factors the judge will consider in determining an appropriate sentence.
A first DUI conviction in Florida can lead to up to $1,000 in fines, a driver’s license suspension for up to one year, and up to six months in county jail. In addition, defendants responsible for destroying property and/or causing injuries face civil liability for these damages as well. Some first-time defendants may qualify for alternative or diversionary sentencing, such as conditional probation and/or mandatory substance abuse treatment. However, these options are not available to every defendant.
A second DUI conviction within five years of the first conviction will lead to an increased fine of up to $2,000, jail time of up to nine months, and a driver’s license suspension for up to five years. A defendant may also require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) that will prevent the vehicle from starting without a breath sample. The driver must keep the IID on their vehicle for the specified time, and this penalty could also be assigned to a first-time DUI defendant who had a BAC of .15% or more.
A third DUI conviction within 10 years of a second DUI conviction in Florida is an automatic felony. The defendant’s fine could be $2,000 to $5,000, and any incarceration they face will occur in state prison, not county jail. In addition, the defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for 10 years, but some people may qualify for hardship license reinstatement after two years.
In addition to the penalties a defendant could face if convicted of DUI in Florida, they will also see these penalties increase if their actions harm any other parties. For example, if a driver is arrested after causing an accident while driving under the influence, they face prosecution and enhanced penalties if convicted, and their victims could file civil claims for damages. The defendant’s auto insurance may only cover a small portion of the victim’s losses, or insurance may not even be available to them at all, leaving the defendant solely liable for the damages they’ve caused.
When a defendant is charged with DUI with injury in Florida, their penalties automatically increase if they are convicted. For example, the jail term for a first-time DUI offense in Florida is usually only a maximum of six months in county jail. However, if the defendant had a minor child in the car, this could increase to nine months automatically. Driver’s license suspension periods can also increase when a DUI results in injury. For example, if a convicted defendant injured anyone, they would face an automatic three-year suspension of their driver’s license, even if it is their first DUI conviction.
In any criminal case in Florida, the judge and jury overseeing the matter must evaluate all evidence and testimony, carefully weighing the facts of the case. Aggravating factors are those that work against the defendant, increasing the likelihood of conviction and reducing the chance of seeing any leniency in sentencing. Conversely, mitigating factors function the opposite way, helping the defendant establish a credible defense and potentially opening the door for lighter sentencing if convicted.
Ultimately, every DUI case is unique, and it is crucial for anyone facing these charges to find legal counsel they can trust to guide them through their cases. It’s natural to worry about the penalties you face if convicted, especially if you have any prior DUI convictions on your record. However, beyond the penalties assigned by the court, you are likely to face a host of personal and professional consequences that can change your life in various ways.
Some defendants could qualify for diversionary sentencing in the form of compulsory substance abuse treatment. If the defendant has clear signs of addiction, the judge may see that they need treatment and not incarceration to rehabilitate. As long as the defendant complies with the terms of any diversionary sentencing elements along these lines, they can potentially avoid jail time and get the medical treatment they need to recover from substance abuse.
Your Brevard County, FL, DUI defense attorney will be an invaluable source of reassurance as you navigate your DUI case proceedings. If you committed the DUI in question, your attorney should seek to identify as many mitigating factors as they can find to assist in your defense. Depending on the nature of your offense, you could qualify for diversionary sentencing or other forms of leniency in sentencing. On the other hand, if you did not commit the DUI in question or if there are glaring issues with the prosecution’s evidence and/or handling thereof, your attorney should seek to highlight these issues as clearly as possible for the court’s consideration.
Every American citizen has two very important constitutional rights that come into play the moment they are placed under arrest. First, the Fifth Amendment upholds the right to remain silent and to protect from self-incrimination. No matter what the police may claim to the contrary, once you are placed under arrest, you are under no legal obligation to say anything to them. Even if you did not commit the crime in question, you should not attempt to give your side of the story. Remain silent until you can exercise your right to legal counsel.
The Sixth Amendment upholds the right to legal representation when accused of a crime. Every American citizen has the right to a defense attorney when charged with any criminal offense, even if they can’t afford to hire a private attorney. Public defenders are available to defendants at no charge if they are unable or unwilling to pay for private defense counsel. To some defendants, this seems like a realistic and accessible option for securing legal representation, and others have no choice but to have public defenders represent them.
The public defenders of Brevard County, FL, are hardworking and talented attorneys who do their best for their clients. However, the inherent demands of their work prevent them from giving clients much individual attention. If you are able to do so, hiring a private Brevard County, FL, DUI defense attorney can offer a much higher level of legal counsel for your impending DUI case. Depending on the severity of the charges against you, you may require an attorney’s assistance to get out of jail ahead of your preliminary hearing, and the sooner you secure defense counsel, the sooner you can take full advantage of the many other legal services they can provide in your situation.
Ultimately, every defendant will face different challenges and opportunities in their criminal court cases, and the best asset any defendant can have in a DUI case in Brevard County, FL, is an experienced DUI defense attorney. When you choose Chang Law Firm to represent you as your defense counsel in a DUI case, we will carefully examine all potential avenues of defense available to you. We’ll help you make informed decisions and determine whether seeking a lighter sentence or case dismissal would be more appropriate for your circumstances.
Our team develops uniquely tailored legal solutions for every client we represent. We know your situation may feel hopeless, and you likely have many pressing legal questions after an arrest for DUI. The sooner you connect with an experienced Brevard County, FL, DUI defense attorney you can trust, the more time they have to prepare an effective defense on your behalf.
If you are ready to discuss your case with a Brevard County, FL, DUI defense attorney, contact Chang Law Firm today and schedule your consultation with our team.