DUI Defense Lawyers in Broward County, Florida
Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are on a downward trend that has continued over the past decade in Florida. The introduction of ride-share vehicles (such as Uber and Lyft) may certainly play a role in fewer DUI arrests, charges, and convictions. However, DUI charges in Broward County should be considered serious crimes. Although one DUI offense may not lead to jail time and fines, all DUI offenses are different, and the underlying facts of a DUI arrest will be thoroughly evaluated to determine what DUI charges apply. For example, if a DUI incident involves factors beyond simply being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating and/or in physical control of a vehicle, the DUI charge may be enhanced to a high-level misdemeanor or felony.
Musca Law is a well-known criminal defense law firm in Florida that has been meeting the needs of clients for decades. The Broward County DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law routinely handle DUI and other serious criminal matters and have the necessary skill, dedication, and expertise to provide clients with superior legal representation. At Musca Law, we have ample resources to provide all clients with the individualized care and attention they deserve. The first step to finding out what your legal options are following DUI charges in Broward County should be to contact Musca Law by calling (888) 484-5057.
DUI Charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – What You Should Know
Broward County has a population of nearly 2 million people, making the county the second largest in the state. With such a large population in addition to visitors and tourists who visit Broward County each year, police offices, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials are busy arresting and charging individuals with crimes daily. DUI charges are, without question, criminal offenses that should not be taken lightly. However, because Broward County law enforcement officials must address crimes that are much more serious than DUIs – such as violent crimes – many DUI offenses can be dismissed or reduced with the right DUI Defense Lawyer in Broward County, Florida (FL).
Like many states, the legal limit (blood-alcohol content – BAC) for driving under the influence in the state of Florida is 0.08. As such, most people generally know what amount of alcohol is enough to result in a Broward County DUI charge. But, it is important to keep in mind that a person may be arrested on suspicion of DUI in Broward County even if he or she passes a breathalyzer test as well as a field sobriety test (if one is given). The appearance of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as demonstrated by a person’s behavior and physical appearance, could be sufficient under Florida law to arrest and charge someone with driving under the influence.
DUI Laws, Criminal Penalties, and Long-Term Consequences in Broward County, Florida
Florida law defines multiple levels of DUI offenses that can be misdemeanors or serious felonies. Because all levels of DUI charges have the potential to result in jail time and the imposition of hefty monetary fines, anyone facing a DUI charge in Broward County should understand the consequences of facing a DUI conviction.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(1), a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may face criminal charges if he or she:
- Was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle; and
- Was under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances such that his or her normal faculties were impaired; or
- Had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
- Had a breath-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
Broward County prosecutors cannot successfully secure a DUI conviction unless they can prove the threshold requirements of establishing (1) that the driver was actually driving the vehicle and/or was in physical control of the vehicle, and (2) that the driver met the definition of “under the influence” in one of the three ways identified above. If a person’s BAC reading is below .08, whether he or she was under the influence is a key factor that will be contested in court. When the only way the prosecution can show that a driver was under the influence is by using a police officer’s testimony and police report, fighting DUI charges in Broward County may be successful. Without physical evidence of intoxication, a highly-qualified Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer can develop a strong defense for his or her client who is facing DUI charges.
DUI Classifications, Potential Jail Time, and Potential Fines in Broward County, Florida
Ranging from a minor misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, DUI charges vary greatly. As such, the penalties for each DUI will be different. The more serious the DUI charge, the more difficult it may be to dismiss or reduce such charges if the prosecution has sufficient evidence to take the DUI case to a jury. Florida law provides the following DUI classifications along with the maximum penalties for each crime if a person is convicted by a jury or pleads guilty.
First DUI Offense with BAC of .08 or Greater
A person convicted of a first DUI offense in Broward County with a BAC reading of .08 or greater faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and a maximum fine of $1,000.
First DUI Offense with Minor Under the Age of 18 in the Vehicle
A person convicted of a first DUI offense in Broward County with a passenger under the age of 18 faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 9 months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
First DUI Offense with BAC of .15 or Greater
A person convicted of a first DUI offense in Broward County with a BAC reading of .15 or greater faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 9 months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Second DUI Offense with BAC of .08 or Greater
A person convicted of a second DUI offense in Broward County with a BAC reading of .08 or greater faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 9 months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Second DUI Offense with BAC of .15 or Greater
A person convicted of a second DUI offense in Broward County with a BAC reading of .15 or greater faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 1 year and a maximum fine of $4,000.
DUI Offense Involving Damage to Property
A person convicted of a DUI involving property damage in Broward County faces a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 1 year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Third DUI Offense More Than 10 Years After Prior DUI Offense
A person convicted of a third DUI offense in Broward County more than 10 years after the prior DUI conviction faces a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 1 year and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Third DUI Offense Within 10 Years After Prior DUI Offense
A person convicted of a third DUI offense in Broward County less than 10 years after the prior DUI conviction faces a third-degree felony with a maximum jail sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $5.000.
Fourth or Subsequent DUI Offense
A person convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense in Broward County – regardless of how much time has passed since the prior DUI conviction – faces a third-degree felony with a maximum jail sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
DUI Offense Involving Bodily Injury
A person convicted of a DUI offense in Broward County involving serious bodily injury faces a third-degree misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
DUI Manslaughter – Causing the Death of Another Person or Unborn Child
A person convicted of DUI manslaughter in Broward County faces a second-degree felony with a maximum jail sentence of 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
DUI Manslaughter – Failing to Render Aid
A person convicted of DUI manslaughter in Broward County faces a first-degree felony when the person was aware he or she was in an accident and failed to render aid to injured individuals. A first-degree felony results in a maximum jail sentence of 30 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Depending on the unique facts of a person’s DUI case in Broward County, he or she may face more than one DUI charge, and conviction of more than one DUI charge could lead to multiple jail sentences and fines. As such, it is absolutely critical to have a knowledgeable Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer handle serious DUI charges that could lead to decades in jail.
Additionally, the consequences of a DUI conviction – whether such conviction is a misdemeanor or felony – can be far-reaching. Having a DUI conviction on one’s record, which is publicly available information (except when a criminal record is sealed or a conviction expunged), is damaging to a person’s reputation. A blemished criminal record makes it difficult to keep or obtain employment, rent a house or apartment, apply for a credit card, drive to and from work, and get accepted to a college or university. Such non-criminal consequences can harm a person’s life for years to come.
The Dismissal or Reduction of DUI Charges in Broward County
Many DUI charges in Broward County result in a reduction of the charge and alternative adjudication whereby adjudication of the DUI charge is withheld. In such cases, a Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer will negotiate with prosecutors to reach a result that is fair and reasonable, given the underlying facts that led to DUI charges. Such negotiations are more likely to reach a result that avoids jail time when the DUI at issue is a first or second offense, and the person charged has no criminal record. The more serious the DUI, the more difficult it is to avoid jail time.
Reducing a DUI charge and avoiding jail time does not mean that the accused individual will avoid all punishment. Rather, the individual will have to adhere to specific probationary requirements which include, among others, the following:
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in vehicles driven by the accused individual;
- Completion of a certain number of community service hours;
- Mandatory alcohol and drug testing (which may be routine or random);
- Completion of alcohol and drug abuse counseling;
- Completion of alcohol and drug abuse courses; and
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation.
In some cases, Broward County DUI charges may be dismissed. Dismissal of DUI charges may happen in situations which include, but are not be limited to, the following:
- Prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to convince a jury that the defendant is guilty of driving under the influence;
- Police officers or other law enforcement officials violated the defendant’s constitutional rights by failing to read the person his/her Miranda rights/warning;
- Securing a false, forced, or misleading confession; and
- Using illegally obtained evidence to support criminal charges (such evidence is not admissible at trial).
Legal defenses in a Broward County DUI case will be dependent on the conduct of law enforcement officials, the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, and other facts which a diligent Broward DUI Defense Lawyer can use to show weaknesses in a prosecution’s case.
What Happens After Getting Arrested for DUI in Broward County, Florida?
Individuals arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be detained by police following arrest, but such detention is limited in time. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 316.193(9), a person may be released from jail once the following occurs:
- The arrested individual’s BAC is less than .05;
- The arrested individual’s normal faculties are no longer impaired by alcohol, chemical substances, and/or controlled substances; or
- The arrested individual has been detained for at least 8 hours.
Being arrested – especially for the first time – is a scary experience that nobody wants to go through. As one can imagine, spending time in a Broward County jail is even scarier and stressful than the arrest and booking process, at least for most people. Although Florida law limits how long individuals arrested on suspicion of DUI can be detained by law enforcement officials, such laws are not always followed. Moreover, because many individuals facing DUI charges in Broward County may not be familiar with Florida law and what legal rights they have, they may find themselves in jail for more than 8 hours. Therefore, the first phone call following a DUI arrest should be to a Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer.
The Importance of Retaining a Highly-Skilled DUI Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County
Because DUI charges in Broward County are generally first or second offenses, most people facing such charges avoid jail time. When the majority of DUI charges do not lead to jail time, some people charged with DUI in Broward County may not approach the criminal matter as seriously as he or she should. The lawyer chosen to represent a person’s legal rights in the courtroom needs to be not only experienced but also needs to be dedicated, reputable, and diligent in his or her efforts to reach the best outcome possible for clients.
Choosing an inexperienced lawyer to handle a Broward County DUI matter can be catastrophic to a person’s case. For example, a person facing a DUI charge may choose to have a friend who is a lawyer handle the DUI case even if that lawyer lacks experience handling DUI cases. The legal field is highly specialized, and the best-case scenario for a person facing DUI charges in Broward County can only be achieved alongside a truly skilled Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer.
Experienced Florida DUI Defense Lawyers often negotiate with prosecutors to help clients avoid jail time. When DUI charges are felonies, the stakes are especially high, as jail time, fines, and limitations on constitutional rights are potential consequences. Becoming a convicted felon means that a person loses his or her right to vote as well as loses his or her right to own or possess a firearm. A new law in Florida does allow some felons to vote after being released from prison, but this does not minimize the severity of the consequences associated with felony DUI convictions.
When felony DUI cases go to trial in Broward County, prosecutors will relentlessly pursue a conviction at all costs. Defendants facing felony DUI charges need and deserve a Broward County DUI Defense Lawyer who has the necessary trial skills and track record of success. While an acquittal is never a guarantee in any criminal matter, lawyers with substantial experience in the courtroom will know how to point out the prosecution’s weaknesses to a jury. Leaving doubt in the jury’s mind is the ultimate goal to avoid a conviction, but getting to this point is not easy. As such, it is worth a person’s time and energy to locate and speak with an accomplished Broward County DUI Defense Attorney.
Contact the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
No matter how serious a DUI charge may seem, it is essential to speak with a DUI Defense Lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested on suspicion of DUI. If you are facing DUI charges in Broward County, you need a strong lawyer who knows what to expect from Broward County prosecutors. At Musca Law, our Florida DUI Defense Attorneys have more than 150 years of combined professional experience protecting the rights of every client. Contact Musca Law today to find out how our legal team may be able to help you by calling (888) 484-5057. We are available 24/7 to provide you with advice and guidance for moving forward with a DUI charge.