DUI Defense Lawyers in St. Johns County, Florida
Driving Under the Influence Charges in St. Johns County, Florida
Facing charges for driving under the influence is an intimidating and frightening experience. For many people, these charges mark the first time in their lives that they have had to deal with the criminal justice system. It is important to understand that no one has to navigate the criminal system alone. An experienced criminal justice attorney will be able to help explain the system, develop a strong defense strategy, and protect the rights of the accused.
Overall, DUIs are on the decline in the United States. Many minor DUI charges never actually make it to trial and often come to an end after an attorney negotiates for lesser charges. This means that many drivers are able to avoid some of the harsher consequences associated with a DUI conviction, such as time in jail.
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence in St. Johns County, the attorneys at Musca Law can serve as your advocates and protect your rights during the entire legal process.
Musca Law is an established criminal defense law firm that represents clients located throughout the Sunshine State. In St. Johns County, our attorneys focus their legal practices on criminal law and civil injunction proceedings. We represent individuals confronting the most serious criminal charges and are ready to take a stand for anyone who has been charged with a DUI, no matter how serious the accusations against that person may be. We believe that everyone deserves a strong legal advocate.
Contact our skilled team of St. Johns DUI Defense Attorneys today at (888) 484-5057 anytime, 24/7, to discuss your case.
DUI Laws and Penalties in St. Johns County, Florida
In Florida, a person accused of a DUI can face severe penalties, including fines and jail time for this offense. Many DUI cases are associated with misdemeanor charges and come with less severe penalties, however, the consequences for a felony DUI case can include long prison terms. Some of those convicted may even face decades behind bars.
The legal limit for drivers in Florida is a blood alcohol content of .08 percent alcohol per volume. However, a person may also face a DUI for using drugs, and in those cases, there are no clear legal limits.
Florida Statute Section 316.193(1) provides that a suspect may be convicted for a DUI if:
- The motorist is physically in control of the vehicle involved in the offense; AND
- The faculties of the driver are impaired due to the use of drugs and/or alcohol; OR
- The driver has a BAC that tests above the legal limit of 0.08; OR
- The driver has a blood alcohol level that tests above the legal limit of 0.08.
It is important to note that at 0.08 percent alcohol per volume, the individual will be considered under the influence per se, which means even if their behavior may not indicate impairment.
When a driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, the police will likely perform field sobriety tests to determine whether the individual’s behavior indicates intoxication. If the individual fails those tests or fails a breathalyzer test, then the officers will place that driver under arrest. If the person passes the breathalyzer test but fails the field sobriety test, there is a chance that the officer will still arrest that individual based on suspicion of the person being impaired by a substance other than alcohol (such as drugs).
DUI Categories in St. Johns County Pursuant to Florida Law
Depending on the circumstances, a DUI may be categorized as a variety of different crimes, for instance:
- A First DUI with a BAC at or Above 0.08- A driver with a BAC that violates the legal limit of 0.08, but is not above 0.14, will be charged with a misdemeanor for their first offense. The penalty for this unspecified misdemeanor can include six months behind bars as well as fines up to $1,000.
- A First DUI When a Minor is a Passenger- If a driver is convicted of a first DUI when a minor was a passenger in the car, the penalties for this unclassified misdemeanor will be increased to nine months in jail and a $2,000 maximum fine.
- A First DUI with BAC of 0.15 or Higher- If a driver’s BAC is 0.15 percent or higher, then the penalty for a first time DUI is up to nine months in jail and a $2,000 fine for this unclassified misdemeanor offense, even without a minor in the car.
- A Second DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or Higher- In the event a driver is convicted for his or her second DUI, but with a BAC of between 0.08 and 0.14 percent, the charges will be for an unspecified misdemeanor, and the penalties will include a maximum nine-month sentence and a fine of up to $2,000.
- A Third DUI in a Greater than Ten Year Period- When a driver is convicted of three DUI’s, and the third happens over a decade after the previous DUI, the charges will be for an unclassified misdemeanor, and sentencing may include up to a one-year jail term and a $1,000 fine.
- A DUI Resulting in Damage to Property- When a DUI results in damage to property, the penalty can include a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. This crime is categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor.
- A Second DUI with BAC Above 0.14- A driver convicted of a second DUI in cases where his or her BAC was above 0.14 percent will have committed an unclassified misdemeanor, and can face up to one year in jail and a maximum monetary penalty of $4,000.
- A Third DUI in Ten Years or Less- If a driver is convicted of three DUI’s, and the third conviction occurs with the same decade as an earlier conviction, the driver will face third-degree felony charges, which may result in up to five years in prison as well as a maximum fine of $5,000.
- A Fourth DUI- Regardless of the time in which these DUIs occur, a fourth DUI will result in charges for a third-degree felony and a sentence up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- A DUI that Causes Serious Bodily Injury- Drivers who commit a DUI that leads to serious bodily injury can face third-degree felony charges and up to five years in prison, as well as a maximum monetary penalty of $5,000.
- A DUI resulting in Manslaughter- If a driver commits a DUI that leads to the death of another person or the death of an unborn child, then the charges will be categorized as a second-degree felony. The sentence for this crime includes prison time of up to fifteen years and a maximum fine of $15,000.
- A DUI Manslaughter and Failure to Render Aid- A driver who commits a DUI that results in the death of another person, and who fails to provide aid to said individual, may face charges for a first-degree felony. The penalties for this crime include a maximum sentence of thirty years behind bars as well as a fine of $10,000.
In St. Johns County, prosecutors view any aggravating DUIs as a serious crime and will seek the maximum penalties in many cases. Anyone facing any type of DUI charges should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to protect his or her legal rights.
Additional DUI Penalties in St. Johns County
Drivers convicted of DUIs in St. Johns may find that the consequences go beyond fines and jail time. Even pleading to a lesser offense may include some serious penalties. Some additional consequences of a DUI include:
- A probation period;
- Mandatory counseling;
- Mandatory education on substance abuse or related topics;
- Mandatory random drug and/or alcohol tests;
- Mandatory community service time;
- The requirement to install an ignition interlock device in all the person’s vehicles or vehicles he or she uses;
- A revocation of the individual’s driver’s license for a set amount of time, if not permanently;
- The impoundment of the driver’s vehicle; and
- In the event of a felony, the loss of the right to own firearms and ammunition.
Of course, a driver may find other consequences that stem from the conviction, such as an impact on his or her ability to find employment, trouble finding housing, and complications when seeking higher education, to name a few.
Accordingly, it is important to hire an attorney who can fully explain the consequences of any plea deal and or conviction and who will fight to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
The Dismissal of DUI Charges in St. Johns County, Florida
If you are facing charges for a DUI in St. Johns County, the results are not already set in stone. In some cases, the prosecution will not have the evidence that they need in order to meet the high standards of a criminal conviction (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt). In other situations, the collection of evidence may have violated the suspect’s legal and constitutional rights. If these situations exist, then it is possible that the charges could be dismissed. A St. Johns County DUI Defense Attorney can examine your case to determine whether there are ways to fight for a dismissal of all charges. While no attorney can guarantee a positive outcome, hiring an experienced lawyer will put that person’s expertise at your disposal and provide the best changes to defend against the charges.
In some cases, the suspect will claim that he or she was not under the influence. If the prosecutor’s evidence inadequate, the defense attorney will attack the allegations and the prosecutor’s case by pointing to issues such as inadequate field sobriety test administration, or faulty breathalyzer results.
In other cases, the police may have failed to properly read the Miranda rights to the suspect or may have elicited a false confession from the person. While these mistakes may appear to be simple technicalities, such is not the case. An attorney will be able to look into these violations and any possible weaknesses in the state’s case in order to potentially dismiss the charges.
If it is not possible to have the charges dismissed, a defense attorney will attempt to seek a plea agreement that is favorable to his or her client. For instance, if the driver is facing felony charges, then the attorney may work to reduce those charges to a misdemeanor in order to avoid such consequences as a lengthy prison term. If the prosecutor is not willing to negotiate a favorable deal, the defense attorney will take the case to trial and seek to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. The right decision will vary depending on the facts of the case. Attorneys with experience representing persons accused of committing a DUI in St. Johns County will know what to look for in the arrest and other records in order to develop an individualized plan.
What to Know About Being Detained by the Police in a DUI Case
Florida Law limits when the police are able to hold a person who is suspected of a DUI in St. Johns County. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(9), the police may only hold the suspect until:
- The individual’s BAC test comes back under 0.05 percent;
- The suspect no longer appears to be impaired by any alcohol or drugs in his or her system; or
- The suspect has been in custody for eight hours or more.
Suspects have constitutional rights that protect them from certain mistreatment by law enforcement officers. Many people do not even know that their rights are being or have been violated because they do not understand what protections are available to them. In order to protect and preserve the suspect’s rights, the suspect must contact a skilled St. Johns County DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Lawyers are powerful advocates who know how the law works and will not let law enforcement take advantage of their clients. Once the police arrest or detain a person, that individual should contact a St. Johns County DUI Defense Attorney immediately. It is important to know that you do not have to face a DUI case without skilled legal representation.
Choosing an Attorney is an Important Decision
The court system is complicated, and it takes experience to navigate through that system effectively. Some defendants believe that they are able to represent themselves in court, which they have the right to do. However, this move is extremely risky, as the individual may not have the experience and knowledge required to adequately argue a case, and will not know how to negotiate a fair plea deal.
Legal fees can seem expensive, which leads some individuals to opt for a free public defender. Unfortunately, these attorneys, while skilled, are often faced with extremely large and demanding caseloads and do not have the same resources at their disposal as a private criminal defense attorney. When choosing an attorney, it is best to look for someone who has experience and proven results. There is way too much riding on your case. The best move is to contact a St. Johns County DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible.
Take Time to Research Attorneys and Make an Informed Decision
When looking for a DUI defense attorney, ask questions, and look for a lawyer who is willing to give you honest and straightforward answers. Look into the person’s professional qualifications, and make sure that the person is upfront, professional, kind, dedicated, and treats you with respect.
Musca Law’s Proven Results
At Musca Law, we are proud of our work for our clients. Our attorneys take their roles as legal advocates seriously and handle a wide range of criminal matters in St. Johns County. We believe that prospective clients are better served by making an informed decision about who will serve as their legal advocate. Check out past results here to see examples of Musca Law’s attorneys’ prior successes.
Contact Musca Law’s St. Johns DUI Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing DUI charges in St. Johns County, Florida, you need to act fast to obtain an experienced St. Augustine Defense Lawyer. Our skilled team of skilled St. Johns County DUI Defense Lawyers routinely handles all types of DUI cases, no matter how challenging or complex. The attorneys at Musca Law have more than 150 combined years of experience representing people who face all types of DUI charges in Florida. The St. Johns DUI Defense Attorneys at Musca Law are ready to work for you, so contact us now at (888) 484-5057. Don’t wait - your rights and your future deserve the best protection available.