DUI Defense Lawyers in Martin County, Florida
How to Beat a Florida Driving Under the Influence Charge
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) in Martin County, it is important that you take this matter seriously. The consequences of a DUI can be life-altering and devastating. While the immediate sentence can be bad enough, the penalties and repercussions often last longer and reach farther than many people would ever imagine. Jail time is a definite possibility, and drug abuse or addiction counseling, the loss of a driver’s license, mandatory community service hours, probation, and required attendance to driving school may also be imposed on the convict. Of course, you could also have a permanent criminal record for your Martin County DUI.
The stain left on your record by a Martin County DUI will potentially lead to difficulty obtaining employment, increases in insurance premiums, and professional discipline. The stigma can also be troublesome and affect one’s life for years to come.
In Florida, drivers are not violating the law by consuming alcohol and driving. The law states that it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent per volume, or if the alcohol caused an impairment of the driver’s normal faculties. A careful reading of this would indicate that driving under the influence can be illegal even if the person’s BAC was technically under the legal limit. In such a case, the prosecutor would have to show that the driver’s normal faculties were impaired.
When it comes to criminal conduct, most Florida crimes involve an element of intent. Proving the intent of the suspect means indicating that the individual had a certain state of mind at the time when he or she engaged in the illegal conduct. The prosecutor need not prove this in the case of a DUI, though. If you thought you were sober enough to drive safely, that would not serve as any form of defense to your claim.
If you were arrested for a DUI in Martin County, you are already involved in a process that is likely to be complicated and stressful. You will be the subject of legal procedures, and your actions moving forward can impact the turn out of your case.
While you might feel alone and frightened, it is important to note that you do have legal and constitutional rights. One of those protected rights is the right to obtain an attorney. At Musca Law, our Martin County attorneys are ready to stand up for you and to ensure that the system treats you with fairness. Call our dedicated attorneys today at (888) 484-5057 to consult with a Martin County DUI Defense Attorney. The prosecutors will take your case seriously. You can protect yourself by ensuring that you, too, take the allegations made against you seriously. Call the Martin County DUI Attorneys at Musca Law today so that we can develop a strategy to defend you.
Martin County, Florida DUI Laws
The state laws pertaining to DUIs are listed in Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. These laws detail the elements of DUI-related crimes and provide maximum and minimum penalties that can be imposed on a person who is convicted of violating such laws.
In Martin County, what the prosecution must prove is that the suspect was in control of a vehicle, or driving the vehicle. Next, the issue of impairment comes into play. There are two separate ways in which the prosecutor may claim that a person was impaired. One way to assert impairment is to state that the driver’s normal faculties were impacted by alcohol or drugs. Section 316.1934(1) of the Florida Statutes states that normal faculties that may be reviewed to determine whether the person was under the influence include walking, talking, seeing, hearing, reasoning, understating, and processing information. If the suspect cannot make decisions or properly judge distances, then his or her normal faculties could be considered impaired.
Of course, as stated, there are two ways to indicate impairment, and if the police were able to obtain a chemical sample from the suspect’s blood or urine, then proving any impact on normal faculties will no longer be necessary. Suspects may take a breathalyzer test or have blood tests performed. If those tests reveal that the driver had a BAC above the legal limit of .08 percent, then impairment will be presumed. Even if the driver could somehow indicate that his or her normal faculties were functioning perfectly well, the test results are enough for the prosecutor to claim impairment under Florida law. If the procedures used to reach such results were performed according to the law, then these results can convince jurors that the person was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt- which is the legal standard for criminal cases.
Not all chemical tests are performed properly, though, and some are taken in violation of the suspect’s rights.
First Time DUI Consequences in Martin County, Florida
Drivers convicted of committing a DUI can face serious consequences. This is true even for motorists with a previously clean record. In Martin County, Florida, a person convicted of a DUI for the first time may be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and year-long probation. The conviction will also come with 50 hours of mandatory community service and a ten-day impoundment of the driver’s vehicle. The court can order the convict to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle as well. Such devices require that the driver’s BAC be checked in order to start the engine. Probation may come with counseling for drug or alcohol abuse, and the mandatory completion of a driver’s education course.
When a person is convicted of a DUI, the court is required to suspend that driver’s license for at least 180 days. In some cases, the suspension of the license will last even longer, but cannot exceed one year. While police also impose an administrative suspension on the driver’s license, the court’s suspension is a separate act.
At the time of one’s arrest, the police will ask a person suspected of committing a DUI to undergo a breathalyzer test. If the person fails that test, then there will be a mandatory six-month suspension on the driver’s license. The person will get a temporary license good for the next ten days, though.
Drivers may refuse to take a breathalyzer test, but this will not work to avoid the consequences of an administrative suspension. In fact, if the person fails to undergo the test, then he or she will suffer a year-long license suspension.
If you believe that your license was improperly suspended, you have just ten days to appeal.
Second Time DUIs in Martin County, Florida
Drivers who are convicted on a second DUI will see the penalties increase for their actions. Now the maximum time in jail will rise to nine months, and the convict must pay a fine of $1,000 to $2,000. If the first DUI occurred less than five years prior to the second, then the judge is legally obligated to impose at least a ten-day jail sentence. If you had a DUI outside of Florida within the last five years, that too will be used against you and will lead to the mandatory jail time.
In the case of a second DUI, the court will order a license suspension of one year or more.
After the person has his or her license reinstated, then he or she will be required to install an ignition interlock device which will remain in place for at least two years. The person’s car will be impounded as well.
Florida is a popular state for tourists, and in many cases, out of state drivers are arrested for DUIs in the state. The strict nature of Florida’s DUI laws may be shocking to some, especially to those with previous convictions for DUIs.
Florida’s statutes do allow for those convicted of DUIs to obtain credits for entering rehabilitation or treatment programs. These credits can help to lower the person’s jail time. This policy is in place to acknowledge that some people who commit DUIs are struggling with addiction and require treatment for their substance abuse issues.
Third Convictions for DUIs in Martin County, Florida
In Martin County, Florida, a driver who is convicted of a DUI a third time may end up facing jail time, or potentially a prison sentence. The consequences will depend in part on the timing of previous DUIs. If you are convicted of a third DUI within ten years of a previous conviction, then the judge can sentence you to up to five years in state prison for a crime that is classified as a third-degree felony.
If the prior DUI conviction occurred over ten years before the third conviction, then the crime is categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor. In this case, the fines will range between $2,000 and $5,000, and the court will impose a minimum of 30 days in jail. Again, the convict will have his or her vehicle impounded and will have to install an interlocking ignition device once he or she regains driving privileges.
Fourth DUIs in Martin County, Florida
Once a driver is convicted of a fourth DUI (or more), the timing of past DUIs is no longer legally relevant. If the most recent DUI was fifteen years ago, this would not mean a lighter sentence as the court looks at the person’s lifetime driving record.
The judge has no choice in these cases but to sentence the person to at least 30 days in jail. It is within the judge’s discretion to increase that penalty to five years as a fourth DUI is categorized as a third-degree felony.
If you are convicted of a fourth DUI, your license will permanently be revoked. In some cases, it is possible to have a license reinstated following a fourth DUI, but typically the use of the license will be limited to certain specified purposes.
Enhanced DUI Penalties in Martin County, Florida
In some cases, the circumstances surrounding a DUI will warrant a harsher penalty, even in the case of a first time DUI. Some such cases include when a driver’s BAC is or is greater than .15 percent. Another aggravating factor is when the person convicted of the DUI was in the car with a person under the age of eighteen. In these cases, a first DUI will be effectively treated as a second offense.
A person who is convicted of a second DUI with aggravating factors can be fined $2,000 to $4,000 and might be sentenced to one year in prison. For a third DUI with aggravating factors, the driver may face a maximum of five years in prison.
Martin County, Florida DUIs with Collisions
If you are convicted of a DUI and were involved in an accident, the sentence you will face will again be more severe. If the crash led to property damage or caused minor injuries to another person, then the crime will be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. The sentence will include a maximum of one year in jail. If another person suffers severe injuries in the collision, the crime will be upgraded to a third-degree felony.
In the worst case, as in the ones in which a person is killed, the crime is referred to as DUI manslaughter. The sentence for a person convicted of DUI manslaughter is up to fifteen years in prison. This crime also comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of four years. While a judge might consider such a low sentence, the state sentencing guidelines suggest that a sentence of at least ten years is proper for DUI manslaughter cases.
If the drunk driver was only partly to blame for the fatal incident, the crime would still be DUI manslaughter. As long as the convicted person’s intoxicated driving played some part in the cause of the other person’s death, that will be sufficient to qualify as DUI manslaughter.
Temporary Driver’s Licenses After DUIs in Martin County, Florida
If your license was suspended for a DUI, you likely understand how limiting this can be on your life. Getting to and from work may be challenging, if not impossible. The law will allow a person to apply for a partial reinstatement of a license for business purposes. Such “hardship” licenses can help you move on with your life.
If you took a chemical test and the results indicated a BAC of .08 percent, you will have to wait 30 days to apply for such a license. In the event that you refused the test, you will be obligated to wait 90 days to apply. In both of these scenarios, you must also show proof that you have enrolled in a DUI education program.
If you refuse to submit to a chemical test two or more times, this license will no longer be available to you.
It is possible to have all driving privileges reinstated after a first DUI. However, you will have to complete a DUI education program, and in the cases of a DUI with a BAC of .15 or higher, you must install, at your expense, an ignition interlock device.
For a second offense, the person must wait one year prior to reinstatement and install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle if his or her BAC was .15 or higher. Of course, a DUI education course will be mandatory for these individuals as well.
The terms only become more challenging, and the wit periods longer when a person has committed a third DUI or more.
Defending Against a DUI in Martin County, Florida
There are numerous defenses that might apply in the case of a Martin County DUI. The right defense will depend heavily on the facts of the case. In some incidents, the police officer violated the suspect’s rights at the time of the arrest. Such violations can lead to the suppression of evidence collected during the arrest in such cases. The prosecutor may not have enough evidence to convict, and the case could be dismissed. The same is true if the police did not correctly administer the Miranda Rights.
Even chemical tests are not always accurate and could be attacked. The scientific evidence in DUIs is often touted as infallible, but such is not the case.
There are other circumstances where the police might not have enough evidence to prove that the driver was operating the car. This is referred to as the “wheel defense,” and in many cases, it is a powerful argument.
Musca Law’s Martin County Attorneys are Ready to Defend Your Rights
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law are ready to develop a defense strategy to fight the charges you are currently facing. We will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are always protected, and we will pursue every possible avenue to defend you. Contact us today, anytime, 24/7 at (888) 484-5057 to connect with one of our Stuart Defense Attorneys. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is your best opportunity to protect yourself and your future.