DUI Defense Lawyers in Sumter County, Florida
How to Beat a Driving Under the Influence Charge in Sumter County, Florida
Driving under the influence is a common crime, but that does not mean that Sumter County prosecutors will take it any less seriously. Drivers who are charged with DUIs are often people who have never been involved in the criminal justice system. Notwithstanding, facing charges can be confusing and frightening. Most people do not know how to navigate the court system and will have to familiarize themselves with its processes and procedures.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney is your best chance of a favorable outcome in your case. Not only will your attorney know how to navigate the system and negotiate plea deals, he or she will serve as your legal advocate throughout the process. What this means is that you will not face the charges alone.
In Sumter County, law enforcement officers and prosecutors consider it their job to keep the public safe. Over the course of eight years, Florida lost 8,476 people to drunk driving crashes. Nationally, over 10,000 people die in such accidents each year. Florida has more DUI-related fatalities than most states across the nation. In fact, only California and Texas have more fatal DUI crashes than Florida. Still, with so many fatal DUIs occurring in the Sunshine State, it is no mystery why the state feels so strongly that there is a need to arrest and prosecute offenders.
While DUIs have dropped in general, from 2014 through 2018, the number of DUI arrests increased by 30 percent. If you are facing DUI charges in Sumter County, Florida, contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn how we can help you. Our Sumter County DUI Defense Attorneys believe that everyone has the right to experienced and aggressive legal representation, and we are ready to serve as your advocates.
DUI-Related Law in Sumter County, Florida
Not every DUI is treated the same. There are a number of factors that can lead to a DUI being handled as a more or less serious crime, with more or less severe consequences. The crimes range from fairly minor misdemeanors to serious felonies with the potential for decades behind bars. Regardless of which type of DUI you are facing, the charges and a potential conviction can have major consequences that can affect your life for years to come.
It is important to remember that the legal limit for Sumter County, Florida is .08 percent alcohol per volume. This means that a person whose blood alcohol level meets or exceeds .08 percent in a chemical test will be presumed to be under the influence of alcohol for the purposes of criminal charges.
In order to convict a person for driving under the influence, the state must show certain factors. The elements of a DUI are as follows:
- The suspect was controlling the vehicle;
- The suspect's normal faculties were impaired by alcohol or drugs; and/or
- The suspect had a BAC that met or exceeded .08 percent based on laboratory test results.
Again, in the event that the person is found in violation of the legal limit, he or she will be deemed influence, even in the case of an individual whose normal faculties appear completely unaffected.
When a police officer suspects that a driver is drunk, he or she will ask the driver to perform certain field sobriety tests. Based on the suspect's performance in those tests, the officer may decide that the individual is under the influence and will take the driver into police custody. If the driver agrees to take a breathalyzer test and has a BAC of .08 or more, then the officer will arrest that suspect.
Sometimes, a person may pass the breathalyzer, but the officer may still believe that the person is impaired because of his or her behavior. In such cases, the officer might suspect that the person was using drugs other than alcohol leading to impairment by a substance that the test is not equipped to detect. It is important to note that driving under the influence of many different drugs, both illegal drugs, and prescription medicals is against the law.
Sumter County, Florida Criminal Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
As mentioned, different types of DUIs can come with different types of charges and wildly different sentencing terms. There are many circumstances that are referred to as "aggravating factors." Such factors will make a charge upgraded and lead to steeper fines and longer sentences.
Here is a list of the different levels of DUI-related crimes in Sumter County, Florida:
- First Time Offense DUI with a BAC of .08 percent to .14 percent: A driver convicted of a fort time DUI offense can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of no greater than $1,000. This is the case as long as that first offense does not come with any aggravating factors, such as a BAC above .14 percent.
- First DUI Offense while Transporting Passengers Under Eighteen: Drivers who are convicted of a first time DUI, but who have a passenger or passengers who are under eighteen, will see their sentence increased to a maximum of nine months in prison, and a maximum monetary fine of $2,000.
- First DUI Offense with a BAC of .15 or Higher: Another aggravating factor occurs when a driver has a particularly high BAC. Once the chemical tests reveal a BAC of .15 or more, the person's penalties increase from six to nine months for a first-time offense, and the fine imposed will rise from $1,000 to $2,000.
- Second Offense DUI, BAC of .08 to .14 percent: A second DUI without aggravating factors is punishable by a sentence of nine months and a monetary fine of up to $2,000.
- Second Offense DUI, BAC of .15 and higher: For drivers with particularly high BACs, defined as those at or above .15 percent, the penalties will include a maximum sentence of one year in jail, along with a maximum fine of $4,000.
- A Third Offense DUI Occurring Within More than Ten Years: For third-time offenses, the question of time comes into play, with more recent DUIs being considered more of a problem. If the most recent conviction for DUI occurred over one decade earlier, then the third DUI is punishable by a one-year jail term and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Third Offense DUI in under Ten Years: If the second DUI and third are less than ten years apart, the crime rises from a misdemeanor to a felony. The sentence for this third-degree felony conviction includes a maximum of five years in prison, along with a $5,00 fine.
- Fourth Offense DUI: By the time a person is convicted a fourth time, it no longer matters when the other crimes occurred. The most recent could be fifteen years ago, and that will not matter as far as the category of the offense. This crime is a third-degree felony and comes with a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- DUI Offense that Causes Property Damage: Property damage caused in the course of a DUI is considered an aggravating factor that will raise the offense to a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence on a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, even for a first offense.
- DUI Offense Resulting in Bodily Injury: If a person causes injuries in the course of a DUI, this offense is considered a third-degree felony. Penalties for this crime will include a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- DUI Offense Resulting in Manslaughter: If a driver commits a DUI that ends in the loss of life, including any other person, or an unborn child, the crime is upgraded to a second-degree felony. In such cases, the driver can face up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of at most $15,000.
- DUI Offense Causing Manslaughter and the Failure to Render Aid: If a driver commits DUI manslaughter, as defined above, and then flees the scene, the crime is again upgraded, this time to a fire-degree felony. A person convicted of this serious crime can face up to thirty years in prison, along with a fine of $10,000.
In Sumter County, a driver who commits a DUI, especially one involving an aggravating factor, should understand that the consequences are severe and can involve prison and hefty fines. It is vital to find an experienced Sumter County DUI Defense Attorney to represent you in your case. There is far too much riding on the outcome.
Additional Consequences to a Sumter County, DUI
When a driver is convicted of a DUI, the penalties do not stop at jail or prison time and fines. There are many other consequences to these crimes, including ones that the court can impose, and other external impacts.
The judge in such cases can include the following penalties for a person convicted of a DUI:
- Probation periods;
- Counseling for drug or alcohol abuse;
- Educational courses on substance abuse;
- Testing for drug and alcohol use;
- Required community service for a set amount of hours;
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in the individual's vehicle;
- The loss of a driver's license for a period of time or indefinitely;
- The impoundment of the convict's vehicle; and
- In the event of a felony conviction, the person can also lose his or her right to bear arms.
Of course, while these court-imposed penalties can be devastating enough, there are other factors that also may result. For instance, the person may find that because of background checks, he or she is struggling to find adequate housing or secure employment. The individual's credit score can take a serious hit, and even attempts to attend higher education may become more challenging.
The best way for a person to protect his or her future and rights is to find an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent him or her, and find the best options for fighting against the charges or negotiating a favorable plea deal. If you are being charged for a DUI, call a Sumter County DUI Defense Attorney today.
Defenses and Dismissals for SUI Charges in Sumter County, Florida
Charges are basically accusations, and until they become convictions, you can fight those charges or negotiate with the prosecutor. There are many ways in which a driver is able to argue against charges for various DUI charges. Remember that the state has to meet a very high threshold when it comes to proving a person guilty of a crime.
The standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" is the most difficult one to meet in a criminal case. The evidence and proof must be particularly convincing. In the event that the evidence cannot meet the high required standard, the state will not be able to convict the person.
Your attorney will be able to analyze your case to determine whether the evidence is lacking. In such cases, he or she will be able to fight against the charges based on the fact that the evidence is insufficient.
In other situations, the evidence might be adequate, but it may not have been properly acquired by law enforcement. The police must meet strict standards when it comes to arresting a person and gathering evidence. The "Miranda Rights" have to be properly read to the suspect. In the absence of such warnings, the evidence collected in violation of this rule may be excluded from the case. This may leave the state with inadequate evidence to convict the driver of a DUI. In some situations, the officer's decision to stop the driver may not have been proper. Again, the evidence can be suppressed, making the state's case impossible to prove by the required standard.
Drivers sometimes claim that they were not under the influence. While a chemical test might at first appear to be irrefutable, the science behind such tests is not infallible. These tests can be flawed, not properly calibrated, or improperly administered. An attorney can, therefore, fight against such evidence as well.
These circumstances may not exist in all cases. Sometimes the evidence will have been properly gained and will be enough to likely convict the defendant. In such situations, there is still the chance to negotiate for a lesser sentence. After reviewing the evidence of your case, your attorney might try to negotiate a deal that will avoid the most serious consequences of a possible conviction. In doing this, your attorney may be able to avoid the possible prison time.
Attorneys cannot predict the outcome of your case. There are too many factors, and each case will be factually different. The prosecutor may also be more or less willing to negotiate. In the event of stubborn opposition, your lawyer should be prepared to take your case to trial.
An experienced Sumter County criminal defense attorney will be able to help you determine the best strategy given the unique factors of your particular case.
DUI Arrests and Your Rights in Sumter County
If you are arrested for a DUI in Sumter County, you might find yourself in jail and wondering how long you will have to stay there. You do have rights, and the police can only hold you for a certain amount of time. In the event of a DUI arrest, Florida Statute Section 316.193(9) states that the police must release you when:
- Your BAC comes back as .05 percent or lowers on a chemical test;
- You no longer exhibit signs of impairment; or
- You have been in custody for at least eight hours.
If you are arrested, you have many legal protections and rights. You may not know all of those rights, and this is why it is crucial to find an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to protect your rights and ensure that the system treats you fairly.
Finding a Sumter County Criminal Defense Attorney
When selecting an attorney to represent you in your criminal case, it is vital to find someone experienced in DUI defense. Your attorney should be open, honest, responsive, and show you respect.
While hiring an attorney comes with costs, a private attorney will have more resources at his or her disposal than would a public defender. In many cases, public defenders are overwhelmed by huge caseloads and a lack of resources. You will need your case handled by someone willing to look at it and all of its unique aspects to tailor your defense accordingly.
Your attorney should also be willing and able to show you past results. By clicking here, you can find information about Musca Law's attorneys and previous successes. We are proud of our track record representing clients located across Florida.
Contact Musca Law to Speak to an Attorney Today
You do not need to face your DUI alone. At Musca Law, we are prepared to defend you and advocate on your behalf. Call today at (888) 484- 5057 to speak to a dedicated Sumter County Criminal Defense Attorney. Your life and future depend on what you do next.