Do I Need a Lawyer for a DUI?

DUI, driving under the influence, is a serious charge that carries harsh penalties if convicted. While some people may think they can save some time and money by simply representing themselves through the DUI process, the result is typically not a favorable one. It is essential to get the help of an experienced DUI attorney in order to properly fight these severe charges. A conviction could mean penalties that include fines, jail time, suspension of your driver’s license, and more. The best results are usually obtained by those who seek professional help in defending against DUI charges.

DUI in Florida

In Florida, the legal drinking limit is 0.08%. This means that you must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of less than this percentage in order to be legal to drive a motor vehicle. The first thing that happens in a possible DUI arrest is that you will be stopped by law enforcement. If they feel that you may be driving drunk the officer may administer some preliminary roadside sobriety tests. These tests may consist of some of the following:

  • Walk a straight line
  • Recite the alphabet
  • Follow a light with your eyes
  • Touch your finger to your nose
  • Hold your leg out in front of you

These tests are subject to review of the officer. If the officer determines that you are over the legal limit he will ask you to take a breath, urine, or blood test. Of these, the breathalyzer test is the most common because it is easy and fast to administer. What many people don’t know is that they can, and often should, request an independent test be completed. While you’ll need to pay for the test it may end up to be a very important factor in determining your BAC level. This is particularly important if you are close to the legal limit.

Breathalyzer Tests

Breath tests are administered by law enforcement either at the scene of the traffic stop or at the police station. It is helpful to know that there can be problems with the way the test was performed or with the interpretation of the results. A lawyer with experience and training in breathalyzer tests will be prepared to review the test results as well as the way the test was given. You may be wondering whether you should actually submit to this type of testing. The state has addressed this situation through the use of an implied consent law. The law states that any licensed driver in Florida must submit to testing as requested by anyone of authority. Failure to submit to this testing will result in additional charges. These charges are separate from the initial DUI charges and carry an automatic driver’s license suspension. Also, your refusal to take the tests can be used against you in your DUI case. When stopped for DUI it is best to consult immediately with an attorney who focuses on DUI cases.

DUI Penalties

A DUI conviction carries harsh penalties. The first thing that will occur is that your license will be suspended until your DUI situation is resolved in court. In order to maintain your driving privileges you will need to request a special hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This must be done within ten days of your arrest. During the hearing your attorney will assist you in presenting a case for keeping your license, even if it’s on a restricted basis. Your DUI case will proceed to court. If you are convicted of DUI you may be subject to payment of fines, jail time, points on your driver’s license, suspension of your driver’s license, probation, and rehabilitation. If you are convicted of additional DUI’s or there was an accident with injuries involved, the penalties increase. In order to get the best possible result it is important to seek the help of an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible.