DUI Defense Attorney Eric J Dirga 407-841-5555

Florida DUI Defense

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  • DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses in Florida.
  • DUI is one of the most complex crimes to defend.
  • You must address a DUI charge immediately to minimize your penalties

Driving Under the Influence

DUI is a common offense and can be very serious. An arrest for driving while impaired is the most basic form of DUI (which means Driving Under the Influence). A basic DUI can be aggravated if there is property damage (vehicle accident), injuries (accident with injuries), or death caused by the impaired driving.

With all DUIs, there is the impact of having a DUI arrest on your record. Employment can be impacted (certain government jobs require a person with a DUI be terminated), especially any job that requires you to drive (commercial drivers, firefighters, police officers, etc.).

Financially all DUIs are costly. A basic DUI arrest can cost you upwards of $10,000 in costs that include fines, court costs, probation fees, payment for required classes, reinstatement fees, and attorney fees.

Finally, a DUI arrest can have a serious impact on your ability to drive. This is very serious because we all take driving for granted. However, when you lose that privilege, it looms large on how you are going to be able to manage your life.

Florida DUI Penalties

[A]ny person who is convicted of a violation of [DUI] shall be punished:
1. By a fine of:
a. Not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a first conviction.
b. Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 for a second conviction; and
2. By imprisonment for:
a. Not more than 6 months for a first conviction.
b. Not more than 9 months for a second conviction.
3. For a second conviction, by mandatory placement for a period of at least 1 year, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person, when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted license.

For information on additional penalties please read section 316.193, Florida Statutes. A run down of almost all the penalties you are facing when you have been charged with DUI in Florida can be located on the DMV Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Law page.

Things You Should Do Immediately After A DUI Arrest

Several things happen to a person all at once when they are arrested for DUI. The two legal issues are:

  • the criminal charge of DUI, and
  • the administrative driver’s license suspension.

You must be cognizant of both of these issues. The immediate issue to address is the administrative suspension.

How a DUI Immediately Affects Your Driver’s License

After you have been arrested for driving under the influence, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [DMV] will automatically suspend your driving privilege in the State of Florida if:

  • you blew over a 0.08 on the breathalyzer, or
  • you refused to blow.

This suspension is automatic and immediate. The DUI citation will act as a temporary Business Purposes Only [BPO] license for only 10 days after your arrest. During these 10 days you need to act to prevent your driving privilege from being totally suspended for a minimum of 30 days.

Sign Up For Classes, Counseling

If you refused to blow or blew over 0.08, you need to do the following within 10-days of your arrest:

These classes are beneficial for both the criminal charge of DUI and the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.

At the Bureau of Administrative Review

You will have to decide whether to waive your right to a review hearing (and avoid a period of no-driving at all) or to have a hearing (and possibly avoid any restriction of your driving privilege). Consult with an attorney to help you make that decision.

The Criminal Charge of DUI

The evidence the state will use against you in a DUI case will come from the police report, video recordings, the breathalyzer, and possible audio recordings. These will all be reviewed by both of us once it is received.

After a DUI arrest, you will be required to remain incarcerated for a minimum of 8-hours. After this period of time, you may be allowed to bond out of jail. In some instances, you may be taken before a judge for a “first appearance.”

Typically, the first appearance judge will review the police report, ensure your arrest was based on probable cause, and enter a not guilty plea for you, provide conditions for release, and give you the date for your next court appearance, which is the arraignment. If you entered a plea of guilty or no contest at the First Appearance – contact us immediately.

An arraignment date is usually set out about 30 days after the arrest. This will give you plenty of time to deal with your license issues (see above) and hire a lawyer. This is just the beginning. A typical basic DUI case can last up to 6 months or more.

Once we are hired for your representation, you will still have to complete your classes (DUI Counter-attack class and the Victim Awareness Panel) and sign up for counseling (let us advise you on counseling). We will deal with the court, prosecutor, and preparing your defense.

Possible Outcomes in DUI Cases

In Florida today, there are several possible outcomes for a DUI arrest. Some counties have pretrial diversion programs for DUIs, however most do not. Faced with bad facts that make a trial unrealistic, there are these possibilities:

  • enter a plea to the charge of DUI with minimum mandatory penalties.
  • enter a plea to a lesser criminal charge.

Sometimes the facts of the case or your personal circumstances (e.g., employment) suggest that a trial is required. The possible outcomes of a trial are:

  • the state fails to establish a case and you are acquitted.
  • the jury finds you not guilty.
  • the jury finds you guilty and the court pronounces sentence.

A trial is never a sure bet or slam dunk, no matter what the evidence suggests. If you take your case to trial you have to be prepared to possibly go to jail. This should be thoroughly discussed with your attorney beforehand.

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