Fort Walton Beach DUI Lawyers
DUI Defense Attorneys in Fort Walton Beach, Florida – Over 150 Years Combined Experience
Musca Law has dedicated attorneys who only focus on DUI. We believe it is imperative that a person speaks with an experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Fort Walton Beach, Florida as soon as possible to understand their legal options. A DUI conviction in Fort Walton can adversely affect a person’s life now and in the future. After the arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the first penalty a person could receive is a lengthy suspension of their driving privileges. According to Florida Law which applies to Fort Walton Beach, a person arrested for DUI may apply for a DMV Administrative Review Hearing to defend their driving privileges has 10 days after the arrest to apply for a DMV Administrative Review Hearing.
Does Musca Law Handle DMV Administrative Hearings?
Our Fort Walton Beach DUI defense law firm has many years of law practice experience handling all DUI offenses throughout the state of Florida. Our attorneys can represent a person in both the criminal case and the administrative hearing.
DUI Defense Lawyers in Fort Walton Beach – (DUI) [Florida Statute 316.193]
DUI Offenses in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Fort Walton Beach DUI defense attorneys at Musca Law want people to know that in the state of Florida, there are several different types of DUI offenses. The most common DUI offenses are First Time DUI and Subsequent DUIs. If a person has a prior DUI offense on their record or if they have caused personal injury or property damage while under the influence of alcohol they could face additional charges and harsher penalties if convicted.
- First DUI
- Second-Time DUI
- Third, Fourth, or Subsequent DUI
- Felony DUI
- Underage DUI
- Drug-Related DUI
- DUI Manslaughter
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- Commercial Driver’s License DUI
Fort Walton Beach – Florida Statute 316.193
Under Florida Statutes Section 316.193, an individual can be charged with driving under the influence if certain factors can be established beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. Whether a person is charged with a DUI offense in Fort Walton Beach Florida will depend on:
- The blood alcohol concentration.
- The level of impairment by alcohol and/or drugs.
- Whether the person was operating or in physical control of a vehicle.
- If someone was seriously injured.
- If someone was killed.
- Whether property damage was caused.
- Whether they have any prior DUI convictions.
Fort Walton Beach DUI Penalties
A DUI conviction in Fort Walton Florida can result in penalties that include fines and jail time and the administrative suspension of a person’s driving privileges. Other consequences of even a first-time DUI conviction can include:
- A substance abuse course.
- Mandatory use of an ignition interlock device.
- Community service.
- Impoundment of the vehicle for ten days.
A person who has a DUI conviction on their record can also experience negative impacts on their ability to obtain or keep a job, the ability to rent a home, and whether they are eligible to receive student financial aid. If a person receives a second DUI conviction in the five years after their first offense, they can face a minimum jail sentence of ten days in addition to harsher penalties than those they received for the first conviction. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, a person can receive even tougher penalties, including those associated with a felony DUI offense.
Felony Fort Walton Beach DUI Attorneys
A DUI offense in Fort Walton Beach is typically treated as a misdemeanor. Under some circumstances, a person can be charged with a felony DUI offense. To be charged with a felony DUI offense in Fort Walton Beach Florida, the accused generally:
- Has had two previous DUI convictions in the last five years;
- Has been arrested for their fourth or subsequent DUI offense;
- Has injured someone else either severely or fatally as a result of the DUI.
A felony DUI in Fort Walton Beach is usually considered a third-degree felony where the penalties might include up to five years in prison and large fines. Felony DUI convictions can also result in being labeled as a Habitual Traffic Offender. What this means is a person can lose their driving privileges for a period of five years.
DUI Defense Fort Walton Beach – DUI Manslaughter
DUI manslaughter is also considered a felony offense anywhere in Florida including Fort Walton Beach. DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony, happens when someone dies as a result of the DUI offense. If the person leaves the scene after someone is killed due to DUI manslaughter, they can face first-degree felony charges where a conviction can result in up to thirty years in jail.
Fort Walton Beach BUI Defense Attorneys
In Fort Walton Beach a person can also be charged with the offense of boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Under Section 327.35 of the Florida Statutes, someone can be convicted of BUI if the prosecution can prove that they were operating a vessel while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. If someone is convicted of a BUI first offense, they can face up to six months in jail, but it is also possible to be subject to harsher penalties depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Implied Consent Laws in Florida
The state of Florida has what is referred to as “implied consent” laws. The legal definition of these laws states that whenever a driver gets behind the wheel of any vehicle in Florida, they are recognized as having given their approval, or their implied consent, to yield to a blood-alcohol content test during a suspected-DUI stop. This does not mean, however, that the driver is also obligated to consent to take any field sobriety tests.
In the event that a driver should refuse to surrender a blood, urine, or breath sample for a blood-alcohol level test, they might possibly face harsh civil penalties, including an automatic suspension of their driver’s license for as long as one year. If this turns out to be the second time they have failed to submit a blood-alcohol test, then their driver’s license may very well be suspended for as long as a year and a half.
On the occasion that a driver refuses to take any of the approved blood alcohol tests, they will automatically be arrested and will receive a Notice of Suspension. The suspension of their Florida driver’s license will go take effect right away and, as mentioned earlier, they could have their license suspended for as long as one full year.
A vital piece of information for anyone who has been charged with driving under the influence is that the accused only has a 10 day period after their arrest in which to fight to keep their driving privileges. Inside of that 10-day window, the accused driver has to petition for a formal review hearing with the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, where the accused will be able to contest the suspension of their driver’s license. A skilled DUI attorney will be able to help you qualify for a 42-day driving permit, enabling you to drive yourself to and from school or work, and for pre-approved medical or religious reasons while the challenge to your suspension is ongoing.
It is important to bear in mind that the suspension of your Florida driver’s license is fully separate from your charges of driving under the influence. The license suspension is a civil sentence, whereas the drunk driving charges are criminal sentences. This means that, under some circumstances, someone who has been charged with a DUI could conceivably avoid a conviction for driving under the influence but still be faced with the administrative suspension of their driver’s license.
Requesting a Hearing
In the event that you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will have just 10 days in which to petition for a formal review hearing, sometimes referred to as an administrative interview in Fort Walton Beach, with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you neglect to ask for this formal hearing, you will have automatically waived your right to dispute the deferral of your Florida state driver’s license. If this happens to you, it is crucial that you get in touch with an experienced drunk driving attorney in Fort Walton Beach as soon as you are able to do so. A DUI attorney will be able to assist you in making the best of the DUI process and with registering any of the necessary paperwork that will enable you to get a provisional driving permit so that you may still drive yourself to school, to work, and for any approved medical and religious reasons.
This administrative hearing can play a pivotal role in your defense because the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles hearing official will be the one who determines whether or not the police officer did or did not have probable cause to pull your vehicle over, whether or not you were accurately apprised of the outcome should you opt to not take a breath, urine, or blood test, and whether or not you actually declined to agree to any of these tests. At your hearing, a Fort Walton Beach drunk driving attorney will have the ability to cross-examine any witnesses like the officer who made the arrest, as well as to subpoena any relevant reports that could be utilized in a potential criminal trial.
Another significant element is your criminal trial which will be used to decide your innocence or guilt, and what your sentence will be in the event that you end up being convicted of a drunk driving charge. The state of Florida imposes laws regarding the mandatory minimum sentences for each case of driving under the influence. The punishments grow correspondingly severe for each succeeding DUI offense.
The first DUI conviction is punishable by as long as six months in county jail, and as long as nine months if the accused’s blood alcohol content was .15% or higher. A second DUI conviction that takes place within five years of an earlier DUI conviction could be sentenced to as little as 10 days or as long as nine months in county jail, or as long as one year if the accused’s blood alcohol content was over .15% and the suspension of your Florida driver’s license for as long as five years. Substantial fines are also inflicted for convictions for drunk driving. Even your very first driving under the influence conviction can earn you a fine of anywhere from $500 to $1000, and with a second conviction, you could see a fine of as high as $1000 to $2000.
Other Outcomes of a DUI Conviction
The upfront costs of a DUI charge are the ones that are inflicted by the court which include:
- One full year of controlled probation
- A minimum of 50 hours of working for community service
- Participating in a pre-chosen DUI program
- Drug and alcohol assessment and treatment
- Administrative fees, court costs, and other fines and expenses
- The dollar amount of your managed probation, investigation fees, and the costs of the prosecution
- The impounding or complete loss of the use of your vehicle
- The potential of doing time in either jail or prison
- Forced placement of an ignition interlock device in your car
Even more damaging are the unexpected costs of a drunk driving charge. These expenses may be accompanied by a substantial increase in your car insurance premiums, raises in premiums for your life or your medical insurance, compulsory FR-44 insurance, and the damage that having a criminal record could inflict on any of your future and current activities, including employment and educational possibilities.
If you or a loved one could possibly be facing these kinds of charges, it is your best bet to get in touch with an experienced Fort Walton Beach attorney in order to receive a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation in order to determine if our legal services are right for your circumstances.