Boca Raton DUI Lawyers
150+ Years of Combined DUI Defense in Boca Raton
The state of Florida has some of the strictest laws regarding drinking and driving in the United States. A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) has some very severe punishments attached to it, including hefty fines, jail time, obligations to perform community service, and even having an ignition interlock device installed in your car. Alongside these criminal penalties, the guilty driver will also most likely face civil and administrative outcomes, including the suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.
Just the process of being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be an uncomfortable and terrifying experience. The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that just because you have been arrested that does not mean that you will necessarily be found guilty of the driving under the influence charge. Driving under the influence is a serious violation; however, making sure that you have an experienced and qualified defense attorney in your corner will greatly increase your chances of putting this event behind you with the best outcome possible.
After your DUI arrest, you have just 10 days in which to request a formal review hearing. Hiring the right attorney for the job during that 10 day period is one of the most critical decisions that you will ever make. If you or someone you love has recently been charged with driving under the influence in Boca Raton, FL then please contact the offices of Musca Law right away so that we can discuss your case and determine your legal options during a free, no-obligation, confidential consultation as soon as possible.
The Ten-Day Rule
After you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Boca Raton, the arresting officer will immediately suspend your driver’s license if:
- Your blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit of .08%; or
- You declined to submit to a scientific analysis of your breath, blood or urine.
This administrative suspension that is put into motion by the arresting officer is sometimes referred to as an “on-the-spot suspension.” Following your arrest, you have just ten days in which to request a hearing for a formal review in order to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. Challenging the administrative suspension provides your criminal defense attorney with the ideal way to investigate all of the defenses in your case.
Your DUI attorney is able to make a request on your behalf for the review hearing and get you a 42-day driving permit so that you may continue to drive while we challenge the administrative suspension. You will still want to preserve your driving by requesting a formal review hearing during the initial ten days following your arrest.
The formal review hearing is one of the essential components of your case. A lot of ill-informed people forego their right to the formal review hearing by obtaining a hardship license immediately. They do this without realizing the permanent results that go along with that choice.
Regrettably, surrendering all of your personal rights indicates that you are basically agreeing to the suspension of your driver’s license and the conclusion that you were driving under the influence. Unless you challenge this suspension and win during your formal review hearing, the administrative suspension will remain on your driving history for the next 75 years.
The only advantage of agreeing to the penalties is that you will avoid the 30-day or 90-day blanket suspension. That is a modest price to pay, however, for having that administrative suspension erased from your driving history. Rather than relinquishing your rights, you could hire a criminal defense attorney to ask for a “formal review hearing” to oppose the administrative suspension. If you are successful, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will permanently erase the suspension from your driving history as though it never took place.
The methods used by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at the Bureau of Administrative Review are very involved. Before deciding which way is best for you to go, call the legal team at Musca Law so we can examine the best strategy for you to successfully fight your case.
Reasons Your Charge Could be Reduced to Reckless Driving
The DUI prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office in Boca Raton, Florida might allow the reduction or the dropping of your charges for driving under the influence for a multitude of reasons that include but are not limited to:
- Reduced Impaired Driving Recidivism – If you are a first-time offender, you could be allowed to participate in a program, the trade-off of which is a reduction to reckless driving in exchange for participating in this voluntary punishment
- Unlawful Stop – The defense may win a motion to quash certain evidence because the stop performed by a law enforcement officer, including the Florida Highway Patrol, was considered unlawful
- DUI Sobriety Checkpoints – A DUI checkpoint stop is the most thoroughly examined form of restraint that falls under the purview of the Fourth Amendment. If any portion of the DUI checkpoint was arranged incorrectly, then any evidence regarding any driver that stemmed from that particular checkpoint is eligible to be tossed out by the court
- Other Motions – Concern that the defense may obtain a motion to eliminate other evidence in your case. This includes evidence that you either refused to submit to a blood-alcohol level test or that you took the breathalyzer test but blew over the legal limit of .08%
- Problems with the Intoxilyzer 8000 – Any suspected motions to refute the precision or authenticity of the breath test device or the precise test read-out that was obtained in your case. Your criminal defense attorney will file various motions to demonstrate that the device, the Intoxilyzer 8000, that was used in your instance had not been kept up in accordance with the laws that oversee the keeping and the care of these devices
- Video Evidence – Concerns regarding the jury assigned to you delivering a finding of not guilty if you do not sound, look or otherwise appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol on any recording that was taken during the stop or after your arrest
- Expert Witness – Concern that a drunk driving expert witness summoned by the defense would weaken the legality or authority that a key piece of their evidence has, especially if it is one that the prosecutor plans to lean on during your trial (i.e. the results of a urine, breath, or blood test, or your successful completion of a field sobriety test)
Florida Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)
Under Florida law, an officer is allowed to pull over any driver that they believe under probable cause guidelines to be intoxicated. After pulling someone to the side of the road, the officer may engage in conversation to determine sobriety or, in some cases, may administer a physical test in lieu of or before a breathalyzer. These standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) include:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: During the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer observes the suspect’s eyes while the suspect’s eyes follow the path of a slow moving object. Officers typically use flashlights as it allows them to illuminate and easily monitor the suspect’s face, but any small item is usable. Officers look for certain signs of intoxication while administering the test. These signs include being unable to smoothly follow the object. The suspect involuntary jerking their eye is a movement called nystagmus, and the suspect involuntary jerking their eyes when it’s moved 45 degrees to the right or left is something that the officer is looking out for.
- The One-Leg Stand Test: This test is designed to measure a suspect’s intoxication levels by their ability to stay balanced and to multi-task. The officer begins this test by explaining the instructions to the suspect. After the suspect has heard the instructions while both feet were on the ground and the suspect’s arms were at their side, the suspect then lifts one foot, keeping the bottom of their foot parallel to the floor. They must then begin counting while keeping their attention on their raised foot. The officer will be monitoring their ability to remain balanced, and will be observing if the suspect swayed, dropped their foot too soon, or used their arms to remain upright.
- The Walk and Turn Test: The walk and turn test is a staple of intoxication testing and is likely the one that first comes to mind when you think of an officer testing someone who may be intoxicated. To administer this test, an officer explains the instructions to the suspect who must then walk nine steps forward in a straight line. Each step must be heel-to-toe, and the suspect must not sway or wobble while walking. After proceeding nine steps forward, the suspect must then turn and walk back to their starting point. If the suspect cannot stay balanced while walking or turning, begins before the officer has instructed them to do so, takes the wrong number of steps, or does not walk heel-to-toe, the officer may have probable cause to determine that the suspect is intoxicated.
When is a DUI a Felony?
There is a world of difference between a misdemeanor case and a felony case. A felony charge tends to carry with it penalties that are far more severe than those of a misdemeanor, including heftier fines and increased prison time, not to mention the figurative “scarlet A” with which you will be branded, a stigma worthy of the disdain of Nathaniel Hawthorne himself, long after you have been deposited back into society as a convicted felon. This is an outcome which can have a tremendous amount of negative impact on the rest of your life.
Being arrested for a DUI in Florida can be prosecuted as a felony in the event that:
- You are being convicted of your third DUI offense in the span of ten years
- You are convicted of your fourth DUI within any timeframe
- You caused catastrophic injury to another person while you were driving under the influence
- You took the life of another person while you were driving under the influence. In Florida, this also applies to unborn children
Felony DUI charges are less commonplace when it comes to these types of arrests, but they are by no stretch of the imagination hard to come by either. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 34% of all car accident deaths are instigated by a driver who has had too much to drink. In Florida specifically, there were 8,500 people who lost their lives due to drunk driving accidents over the past decade. Tens of thousands more have been grievously injured.
In those circumstances, if the driver survives, they are normally prosecuted for felony DUI.
Stages of a DUI Case
Following your arrest for a DUI, your criminal defense attorney will be able to waive your appearance for most, or possibly even all, of your pre-trial court appointments. Waiving your appearance during a pre-trial court appearance spares you from the stress and aggravation of having to go to court when your presence there is not strictly needed.
The stages of a typical DUI case include:
- Your first appearance, which is your bond hearing;
- Your formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which typically takes place within 40 days of when you were arrested;
- Your arraignment on your DUI case;
- Your status hearings date;
- Your evidentiary hearing, which includes a motion to quash the evidence or a motion to throw out the DUI charge altogether;
- Your pre-trial meetings; and
- Your jury trial or bench trial.
If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with any of the above-mentioned crimes in Boca Raton, Florida, the actions that you take to protect yourself can impact the rest of your life. It is in your best interest to contact Musca Law at your earliest convenience in order to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation case consultation to determine how our legal services may best serve you, given the particular circumstances of your case.