Whether you need criminal defense or representation for a personal injury claim, our team, lead by Chris Crawford, will fight 24/7 to guarantee that your rights are protected. These trial results should inspire confidence.
Pensacola DUI Attorney
Penalties for driving under the influence are often extreme — hefty fees, license loss, and even potential jail time. At Crawford Law, we will be by your side through every step of the process to ensure you get a fair DUI trial.
Our attorney will work around the clock and research every aspect of your case, including scientific, technical, and legal evidence.
What Is DUI in Florida?
Under Florida law, you can be arrested and charged with DUI under the following circumstances:
- You were found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. This is a “per se” DUI.
- You were found to be “under the influence” of alcohol or any chemical substance. Under the influence means you did not have full possession of your faculties. This is often referred to as impaired driving.
Depending on the facts of your case, penalties for DUI can include jail or prison time, fines, probation, DMV license suspension, community service hours, and vehicle impoundment.
Our firm defends clients arrested for all types of DUI-related offenses, including:
- First-time DUI
- Multiple-offense DUI
- DUI manslaughter
- DUI with a minor
- Underage DUI
- Felony DUI
- Breathalyzer refusal
- Reckless driving
- Vehicular homicide
When we work with you, we are committed to your case 100% from start to finish. Our attorney is involved with both the criminal court process as well as the DMV administrative process. We work diligently in seeking to get your suspended or revoked license reinstated, as well as to prevent the necessity of installing ignition interlock devices.
Typical Florida DUI Sentences
A Florida DUI conviction is unique in that it has a minimum mandatory sentence. For your first DUI, you are typically looking at an adjudication of guilt; meaning the DUI is put on your record permanently.
This typically means:
- 12 months of probation
- Fines and court costs
- Completion of DUI school
- At least 50 hours of community service
- Attendance at a DUI Impact Panel
- Potential vehicle impoundment of 10 days
Second DUI within Five Years
If it is your second DUI within five years, will face the same consequences as a first-time DUI, plus 10 days of mandatory jail time. The fine also increases to the $1,000 to $2,000 range.
Enhancements are also involved as follows:
- If your BAC exceeded 0.15% or you were driving with a minor, you will face increased fines.
- If you have more than three prior DUIs, you will be charged with a felony.
Florida has a particular score that corresponds with each initial charge, plus points for your prior record. If that score is over 44 points, then you must be sentenced to a prison term.
Additional enhancements, such as causing injury or death to another person, can also increase your DUI to a felony. The score of your felony charge will dictate the sentence. These charges can range from DUI manslaughter to DUI with serious bodily injury, or other charges. Those felonies all have their own unique scores, and you face at least the minimum sentence for that score.
What Factors Can Enhance or Aggravate a Florida DUI?
You could receive an aggravated charge for causing property damage, for your breath sample testing above a certain amount, for having a minor in the vehicle, or for causing injury or causing death, known as DUI manslaughter. Every time you have a new DUI, an enhancement will apply to your case.
In keeping with the state’s extremely harsh penalties for DUIs, Florida also has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drunk drivers. If you’re under the age of 21 and have a BAC of .02% or higher, you can be charged with DUI, even though that BAC is significantly less than the legal limit for those over 21.
Even though underage drivers cannot receive jail time for a conviction, the consequences are still severe and far-reaching. Penalties for underage DUI include loss of your driver’s license for up to six months, heavy fines, probation, and community service. If you or your child has been pulled over for driving under the influence, working with our dedicated underage DUI lawyers can help you to minimize the life-altering consequences of a criminal charge at such a young age.
What Happens if You Refuse a Breath or Blood Test?
In Florida, “implied consent” is part of the deal when you accept and take possession of your driver’s license. Implied consent means that any person who operates a vehicle on Florida roads has given their consent to submit to a chemical test, such as a breath, blood, or urine test, if they are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.
If you refuse a breath, blood, or urine test when requested by law enforcement, you will receive an automatic administrative license suspension by the DMV. For out-of-state drivers, this can be complicated. In those cases, the Florida DMV will create an artificial license for you and that license will be suspended. If you have an out-of-state license that you later want to reinstate, you will be required to clear the Florida suspension first.
The length of the suspension depends on whether you have previously refused a requested test. With a previous refusal, your license will be suspended for 18 months. On a first refusal, your license will be suspended for one year.
However, in a first DUI and first refusal, you can apply for a hardship license. To get this license, you must enroll in DUI school within 10 days of arrest. To enroll in DUI School, you will need your lifetime driving history, the arrest report, and the cost of the school. You must then submit your enrollment form to the Bureau of Administrative Review Office. If it is your first refusal and/or first DUI, the formal review process can be waived.
Only in certain circumstances can an officer request your blood. Blood tests are more intrusive, with more to learn about you than a breath sample.
The most common situation in which an officer will request a blood sample is when a breath sample is impractical or impossible. This typically occurs when the accused is in the hospital and cannot be taken to the Intoxilyzer machine. However, you can refuse.
The other scenario involving blood samples occurs in very serious DUI cases, such as DUI with injury or fatality. Law enforcement must then seek to get a warrant for a blood draw. If the warrant is approved, a registered nurse will take your blood sample, and it will be tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Judges are available around the clock to sign off on these warrants.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
After a DUI arrest, you will likely be taken to the police station, where the breathalyzer machine is located. You will be asked to give a breath sample. However, before this is done, you must be observed for 20 minutes.
During this observation period, the officer should be in the same room as you. This is to ensure that you do not regurgitate anything that may have alcohol in it. This also includes belching. The officer also must ensure that you don’t put anything in your mouth that may influence the machine. After the 20-minute observation period, you will be informed about implied consent and then asked to blow into the machine. You can refuse, but if you do, your license will be suspended.
If you take the test, you will need to give two samples of your breath to ensure the machine is working consistently. These samples should be very close in their measurements. After this, you will be questioned by the police. These questions are not designed to help you but to hurt your case.
One of the questions that are often asked is when you last slept. This is to prevent you from claiming you were sleep deprived rather than intoxicated later in court. You may also be asked what you wish you had done differently that night, in hopes that you will admit to drinking.
Do not answer their questions without an attorney present.
Finally, the officer will determine your bond amount. If you have cooperated, you may receive a low bond. However, if you cooperated, it means that you hurt your case.
Bonds for a simple misdemeanor DUI will generally range from $500 to $2,500. You will be held in jail until your breath result is below 0.05%. Once you are released, you will be prosecuted by the state of Florida.
DMV Hearings Regarding License Suspension
In Florida, you have only 10 days after you are arrested to apply for a DMV hearing about your license suspension. This hearing gives you the chance to fight your suspension.
DMV hearings are administrative — the rules are more relaxed. However, you do not have the same rights as in a criminal trial. The DMV’s role is to determine if a lawful arrest occurred, whether you refused to take a chemical test, or whether the sample that you provided was above 0.08%.
Since it is not a criminal trial, the DMV can accept what is provided in your arrest report. Witnesses are not needed. However, your attorney will generally subpoena law enforcement to question whether your arrest was lawful.
Being pulled over or arrested unlawfully is a fourth amendment violation. Generally, some type of video will be available (from a dash or body camera), which is critical as evidence in the review hearing. The chance of winning at these hearings is very low because you are not dealing with a real judge. The hearing is conducted by a DMV employee, who has an interest in suspending your license.
Even when losing at the hearing, this review provides a first glance at the criminal case. The arresting officer can be questioned before you go to trial. The hearing can be recorded, and a transcript can be used later in court. Many times, officers will exaggerate their testimony at trial. Thus, locking in the officer’s testimony at the formal review hearing can be valuable.
It is important to note that the outcome of your DMV hearing has no impact on your criminal case.
More About Facing Florida DUI Charges
Facing DUI charges is a daunting undertaking. The prospect of being arrested, having your license suspended or revoked, being charged hefty fines, and other consequences can seem insurmountable. These issues, along with the emotional and physical stress you might be under, are enough to make anyone panic. A DUI may seem like the end of the road, but there are resources at your disposal, and understanding your position can make all the difference.
The right criminal defense lawyer can be one of the most valuable resources available after a DUI incident and may be the key to returning to everyday life. When facing harsh penalties for driving under the influence, the most crucial thing to do is to contact a DUI defense attorney and discuss the details of your situation.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Many people have a misconception that, just because you are allowed to represent yourself, you should. Many judges will look upon this unfavorably, and it could ruin your chances for a reduction in charges or an acquittal.
If you choose to represent yourself, neither the judge nor the court has any obligation to assist you. That is the role of an attorney. Court processes and rules can be incredibly complicated and lengthy. Without representation, you may be quickly overwhelmed and in a worse place than you began.
Contact Crawford Law for Unrelenting DUI Defense
Setting up a consultation with Crawford Law ensures that you will have tireless representation behind you at every stage of your DUI ordeal. Google can be an excellent resource for information, but it will never match the quality and level of service you will receive from a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.
Each state is different in how they handle both criminal proceedings and DUI charges, and each county within the state may even have specific guidelines in place. By retaining our services in and around Pensacola, you will have the protection and help of an attorney who thoroughly understands every aspect of DUI in this area.
At Crawford Law, we understand the immense stress of DUI charges and genuinely care about the outcome of your case. We prepare all our cases for trial to put our clients in the strongest legal position for positive results, whether through negotiation with prosecutors or in court.
Arrested for DUI? Request a consultation with our Pensacola DUI lawyer at Crawford Law to discuss your case. You can reach us at (850) 220-2098 or by using our online contact form.
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