DUI Defense Lawyers in Leon County, Florida
Florida Driving Under the Influence Defense Overview, Laws, Penalties, and Defenses
Leon County, Florida is home to Tallahassee, which is a populous city. In addition to local residents, tens of thousands of college students call Leon County home most of the year. Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are common in Leon County, and while many charges do not lead to jail time, some are serious enough to land a person in jail for many years. Whether you are a resident, student, visitor, or tourist, facing DUI charges in Leon County carries consequences that can be life-altering and long-lasting. As such, finding a qualified Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer should be the first step after being arrested on suspicion of DUI.
The Leon County DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law regularly represent clients facing a wide range of DUI charges, some of which lead to jail time while others do not. The more serious the alleged conduct at issue, the more severe the DUI charge. At Musca Law, we possess the requisite experience, resources, reputation for success, and good rapport with prosecutors and judges to ensure we are providing superior legal representation to our clients. To speak with a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer about your situation, act quickly by calling Musca Law at (888) 484-5057. Our legal team understands that criminal charges can happen at any time, day, or night. As such, we are standing by 24/7 to provide clients with the advice they need to move forward.
Florida’s DUI Laws, Penalties, and Additional Consequences
Many people facing DUI charges in Leon County can avoid jail time with the assistance of a skilled Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer. However, anyone facing DUI charges should assume that they may face jail time if convicted. To face DUI charges in the first place, a person must be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(1), a person may face DUI charges in Leon County if:
- The accused person was driving and/or had actual physical control of the vehicle at issue in the alleged DUI offense; and
- The accused person’s normal faculties were impaired by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
- The accused person’s blood-alcohol level was .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath; or
- The accused person’s breath-alcohol level was .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
All DUI charges require that a driver be in actual physical control of a vehicle at the time of allegedly being impaired by alcohol or drugs. A failure to establish this requirement is grounds for dismissal of DUI charges. Moreover, in cases where a blood-alcohol content (BAC) reading is below .08 but a law enforcement official still suspects that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, the driver can be arrested and charged based on the officer’s subjective interpretation of the driver’s behavior. If evidence does not clearly show that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a qualified Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer will seek dismissal of DUI charges.
If a DUI case cannot be dismissed on legal grounds and evidence shows the prosecution may have a valid case against a defendant, a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer will seek to reduce the DUI charge(s) to a less serious offense that does not result in harsh consequences. If a DUI case involves a BAC reading of .15 or greater, involves property damage, and/or involves bodily harm or death, the DUI charges become much more serious, requiring the assistance of a superior Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer.
Facing Jail Time and Hefty Fines for Leon County DUI Convictions
Under Florida law, there are numerous DUI offenses a person can face, depending on the nature and severity of the alleged underlying conduct. Such DUI offenses include the following:
- First DUI with BAC of .08 or More – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of six months and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- First DUI with Minor Under 18 in the Vehicle – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of nine months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- First DUI with BAC of .15 or More – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of nine months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- Second DUI with BAC of .08 or More – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of nine months and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- DUI Involving Property Damage – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Second DUI with BAC of .15 or More – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $4,000.
- Third DUI More than 10 Years After Prior DUI – This DUI charge is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $4,000.
- Third DUI Within 10 Years of Prior DUI – This DUI charge is considered a third-degree felony. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Fourth DUI – This DUI charge is considered a third-degree felony. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- DUI Involving Bodily Injury – This DUI charge is considered a third-degree felony. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- DUI Manslaughter (Death of Another Person or Unborn Child) – This DUI charge is considered a second-degree felony. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of fifteen years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- DUI Manslaughter with Failure to Render Aid – This DUI charge is considered a first-degree felony. A conviction results in a maximum jail sentence of thirty years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
To be in the best position to fight DUI charges in Leon County and avoid significant jail time, anyone facing DUI charges should retain a high-quality Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer.
Additional Consequences Associated with Leon County DUI Convictions
Avoiding jail time in a DUI case is certainly a positive result when a DUI case cannot be dismissed. However, all convicted individuals – regardless of whether they serve jail time – may face additional consequences that limit driving abilities and make life difficult for the foreseeable future. Such consequences include, among others, the following:
- Probation (violation of which can land a person in jail and open the door to additional criminal charges);
- Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Counseling;
- Mandatory Submission to Random Drug and Alcohol Testing;
- Mandatory Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on the Driver’s Vehicle(s);
- Suspension or Revocation of Florida Driver’s License; and
- A Blemished Criminal Record, which can make it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment or house, attend college, or even obtain credit.
The consequences of a DUI conviction, or any conviction in lieu of DUI, can turn a person’s life upside down for many months or years to come. As such, it is crucial to understand how important it is to find the best Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer to handle a DUI case. Waiting too long to seek the advice of a lawyer can harm a person’s chances of success when facing DUI charges in Leon County. The early stages of a DUI case are essential to understanding the scope of the criminal charges and whether a defendant was lawfully arrested and detained in the first place.
Dismissing DUI Charges in Leon County, Florida
The dismissal of DUI charges in Leon County is the best result for any DUI case. In some cases, Leon County prosecutors may have insufficient evidence to secure a conviction if a DUI case goes to trial. In other cases, evidence supporting a DUI case may have been obtained illegally in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. Even if a DUI case seems clear cut and is based on a BAC reading that is indisputable, legal grounds may exist to seek dismissal of the case. Unfortunately, many people facing DUI charges do not retain a lawyer who properly raises all legal defenses and instead seeks resolution of the matter with a plea deal. Even if a person pleads guilty to a lesser offense, he/she is still facing a criminal conviction that may have been avoided with proper legal defenses.
A qualified Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer adequately evaluates a client’s case to determine whether any law enforcement official made a mistake from the time of being pulled over to the time of being formally charged with DUI. Examples of mistakes that have a profound impact on a defendant’s legal rights as well as on the outcome of a DUI case include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Failure to read a defendant his/her Miranda rights;
- Obtaining a confession through coercion;
- Conducting a traffic stop without probable cause (i.e., simply fishing to see if a driver may have committed a crime); and
- Failure to consider witness testimony that refutes DUI charges a person is facing.
A Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer will take all possible steps to seek dismissal of a DUI case. If a DUI case cannot be dismissed, the lawyer will work with prosecutors and the client to negotiate a result that is fair given the facts of the case.
Detention Following Arrest on Suspicion of DUI in Leon County, Florida
The process of being suspected of a crime, arrested, and taken into custody is, without question, a scary experience, especially when being arrested for the first time. Law enforcement officials must follow the law when taking individuals suspected of DUI into custody. What many individuals in Leon County may not know is that Florida law provides law enforcement officials with the discretion to detain individuals suspected of DUI for a period of time after arrest. Per Florida Statute Section 316.193(9), law enforcement officers can detain accused individuals until one of the following criteria has been met:
- The detained person’s BAC reading is less than .05;
- The detained person’s normal faculties are no longer impaired by alcohol or drugs; or
- The detained person has been in detention/jail for at least 8 hours.
If a person arrested on suspicion of DUI in Leon County is detained beyond the time allowed under Florida law, as identified above, the arrested person may have grounds to seek dismissal of any criminal charges. However, many people arrested and detained on suspicion of DUI may not know what legal rights they have and that there is a limit on how long they can be kept in detention/jail. The arrest and detention process is a critical step in a DUI case that should be discussed and evaluated with a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer.
Finding the Best Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer for Your DUI Case
Finding a lawyer that suits your needs is not always an easy task, especially when there are hundreds to choose from in Leon County. While time is of the essence when seeking a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer, you should spend sufficient time learning about a lawyer or firm’s experience and track record of success before making a decision. A quality lawyer or firm will willingly share case results to demonstrate the lawyer and/or firm’s prior success in handling serious criminal matters.
At Musca Law, we want prospective clients to feel comfortable when considering our firm as a choice for legal representation. We provide prospective clients with examples of case results that reveal our firm’s abilities to help clients with a variety of criminal matters, including DUI cases. As previously stated, no lawyer can guarantee positive results. However, the right lawyer will utilize all means to help clients reach the fairest result. Such means include, among others, sufficient years of experience, dedication to criminal law, dedication to protecting constitutional rights, a strong legal team with superior advocacy skills, and success in the courtroom against tough Leon County prosecutors.
A lawyer or firm’s reputation within the legal community is also a key factor to consider when finding the best lawyer to handle your DUI case. Lawyers and firms who have a good relationship with fellow criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, and court staff often achieve better results for clients. Experience and skill are certainly important characteristics in the right lawyer but having a good reputation as a strong and ethical advocate in the courtroom is equally important. Take the time to thoroughly vet a lawyer or firm before finding the Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer who will best suit your needs in the courtroom.
Why Should I Spend Money On a Skilled Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer?
The cost to hire a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer can be expensive. However, when comparing the cost of a qualified lawyer to the cost of spending time in jail, facing thousands of dollars in fines as well as facing a whole host of other negative consequences, the cost of a lawyer is well worth it. Many public defenders in Leon County are excellent lawyers that adequately represent their clients. However, public defenders are not afforded the same resources as private criminal defense lawyers. As such, many public defenders are forced to handle a large case load with little time and money to dedicate to each case.
Moreover, some defendants facing DUI charges choose to represent themselves in court “pro se,” which can be very risky. In doing so, defendants place themselves at risk of facing the harshest penalties allowable under Florida law. Criminal law is a specialized area of law that requires decades of experience to master. Many lawyers who excel in other areas of the law would find it challenging to successfully defend a client in a criminal matter. As such, a person without a law degree is in a vulnerable position when facing prosecutors in the courtroom. Working with a lawyer who routinely handles DUI cases in Leon County is the best person for the job.
Contact the Leon County DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you are facing DUI charges in Leon County – no matter how serious – you need the legal advice and guidance of a Leon County DUI Defense Lawyer right away. Although Leon County has many lawyers to choose from, you need a firm with a proven track record of success.
At Musca Law, our nationally-recognized Tallahassee Defense Lawyers have successfully helped clients fight DUI charges and avoid jail time and other serious penalties. While all cases are unique, a law firm with proven results is in the best position to help you achieve the best result for you given the facts of your case. To speak with a member of our legal team about your DUI charges in Leon County, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.