The attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. represent Florida drivers who have been charged with a wide range of traffic violations and criminal offenses, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI is a serious crime in Florida that can come with significant consequences, even if it is a first-time DUI. Our Tampa Bay DUI lawyers are former state prosecutors who work aggressively to resolve these matters as favorably as possible. We know how to build compelling defenses for clients, and we have a strong track record of successful results for the people whom we represent. Our lawyers are dedicated to guiding clients through the criminal justice system with experience and understanding.First-Time DUI Penalties
Like other states, Florida makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle (as well as a boat) while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Police officers and prosecutors usually gauge intoxication via blood alcohol content (BAC), and a person with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is considered legally intoxicated. State law imposes harsher penalties for drivers whose BAC is 0.15 percent or higher, as well as when the crash leads to a death or serious injuries.
A DUI conviction often comes with stiff penalties. A first-time offense, for example, can mean up to six months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and 50 hours of community service. A conviction also means that you will lose your driving privileges for at least six months. Although you may be able to get “hardship” permission to drive to work or school, you will be required to complete a DUI driver safety course before you can get back behind the wheel.Defenses in Drinking and Driving Cases
The first thing that you should know about DUI (and all criminal) cases is that the burden of proof is on the state to convince a judge or jury that you committed the crime. In other words, the prosecutors need to prove that you were operating the vehicle while intoxicated. They often try to do that with evidence obtained after pulling over a driver. A common issue for the cops, however, is that they need to have a good reason for stopping the car in the first place.
In order to make a traffic stop, a police officer needs to have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime or moving violation or that you were recently involved in a violation. Cops often pull drivers over in DUI cases after seeing the car speeding, swerving, changing lanes without signals, or otherwise being operated in an erratic fashion. To force you to get out of the car and submit to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety examination, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated.
A reasonable suspicion means more than just a hunch or a guess. A police officer must be able to articulate the specific reasons for pulling the car over and conducting the test. If the officer cannot do that, the judge may exclude any evidence obtained during the stop from the case against you at your attorney’s request.
You have the right to decline to submit to a breathalyzer test if you are asked by a police officer. However, a person who refuses a breathalyzer faces the possibility of having their license suspended for a year to 18 months. You have the right to challenge that suspension in court. Since you will automatically have your license suspended if you are convicted of drinking and driving, some drivers choose to refuse the test to limit the possible evidence against them.Contact a Knowledgeable Tampa Bay Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we understand how cops and prosecutors usually approach these cases and know which pieces of evidence often carry significant weight when a judge or jury decides whether to convict a defendant. We work tirelessly to get charges dropped or reduced whenever possible and stand ready to fight a case through trial when needed. We represent defendants in Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg, as well as other cities in the Tampa Bay region. Call us at (727) 286-6141 or contact us online to make an appointment to discuss your DUI or criminal case with an attorney.