DUI Defense Lawyers in Punta Gorda, Florida
In Florida, it is a serious crime to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While driving under the influence, or DUI, may seem minor, the truth of the matter is that under certain circumstances, it can lead to felony charges. If you are being charged with DUI in Punta Gorda, you need to work with a skilled legal advocate who can develop the strongest defense strategy possible on your behalf.
Musca Law is a highly reputable law firm that is known for its stellar representation of clients located throughout the state of Florida. Each of our attorneys focuses their legal practice exclusively on criminal law and civil protective injunction matters. No DUI case is too challenging or complex for Musca Law. To learn more about how your skilled team of Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorneys at Musca Law can make a difference for you, contact us today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case.
DUI Laws and Penalties in Punta Gorda
Under Florida law, a person who is convicted of DUI may face jail time and monetary fines. While most DUI matters are misdemeanor-level offenses, some are felonies that can result in long term imprisonment and other serious consequences. Florida’s legal limit of alcohol is 0.08%, however, many DUI cases involve drug use where the legal limit is inapplicable. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(1), an individual may face a DUI conviction if:
- The operator actually physically controlled the vehicle at issue; and
- The operator’s normal faculties were impaired by using drugs or alcohol; or
- The breath-alcohol level of the accused was 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or
- The blood-alcohol level of the accused was 0.08 or more grams per 100 milliliters of blood.
Several DUI cases involve a breathalyzer test and/or field sobriety test to measure the driver’s level of impairment. If a driver does not pass any of these tests, he or she will be arrested. Keep in mind that if a driver passes both a breathalyzer test and a field sobriety test, he or she could still be arrested if the officer believes that his or her faculties are impaired, perhaps by drugs and not alcohol.
How DUI Charges are Categorized in Charlotte County
DUI charges and the associated penalties of a conviction can dramatically affect an alleged offender’s life. Under Florida law, DUI charges range from unclassified misdemeanors to first-degree felonies, as follows:
- Initial DUI with BAC of 0.08 or more – a person will be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor if his or her first DUI offense involves a BAC between 0.08 to 0.14. If convicted, the offender will face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a monetary fine not to exceed $1.000.
- First DUI with a child under the age of 18 as an occupant of the subject vehicle – it is an unclassified misdemeanor to have a child under the age of 18 in a vehicle when driving while impaired for the first time. This is associated with a nine-month jail term and a maximum monetary fine of $2,000.
- First DUI with a BAC of 0.15 or more – for a first time DUI with a BAC of 0.15 or more, it is an unclassified misdemeanor, which is associated with a nine-month jail term and a monetary fine of up to $2,000.
- Second DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or greater – if convicted of a second DUI with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.14, it is deemed an unclassified misdemeanor, which is associated with a nine-month jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $2,000.
- Third DUI that occurred over ten years after a previous DUI – if a person is facing a third DUI Conviction that occurred over ten years after the previous one, it is an unclassified misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a one-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $1,000.
- DUI with property damage – if convicted of a DUI offense that involved damage to property, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a maximum one-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Second DUI with a BAC of 0.15 or more – if a person is convicted of DUI involving a BAC of 0.15 or more for the second time, it is an unclassified misdemeanor, which is associated with a maximum one-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $4,000.
- Third DUI within ten years of a previous DUI – if convicted of a third DUI that occurred within ten years of a previous one, it is a third-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum five-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Fourth DUI – a fourth DUI conviction is a third-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum five-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $5,000.
- DUI with serious bodily injury – if a person is convicted of DUI with serious bodily injury, it is a third-degree felony, which is associated with a five-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $5,000.
- DUI involving death to a person or an unborn child (known as DUI manslaughter) – it is a second-degree felony to be convicted of DUI manslaughter, which is associated with a maximum fifteen-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $10,000.
- DUI manslaughter without rendering aid to injury victims – if a person fails to render aid after committing DUI manslaughter, he or she will be charged with a first-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum thirty-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $10,000.
Prosecutors in Punta Gorda often strive to obtain the harshest penalties in DUI matters that are associated with some type of aggravating factor (such as a BAC of 0.15 or more). If you are facing a first-time DUI or a more serious DUI offense, it is critical that you contact a Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Additional Repercussions Associated with a Punta Gorda DUI Conviction
The punishment that carries with a DUI conviction is not just monetary fines and time in jail. If a person is convicted of a DUI in Punta Gorda, there may be additional consequences that he or she will face. These include the following (regardless of whether the case involves a plea agreement or conviction following a trial):
- A period of probation;
- Attendance at educational courses;
- Mental health counseling and/or substance abuse treatment;
- Random alcohol and/or drug testing;
- Community service;
- The installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle;
- Mandatory impoundment of the offender’s vehicle;
- The loss of the right to own/possess firearms and ammunition (in the case of a felony DUI);
- The loss of one’s license, whether on a temporary or permanent basis (depending upon the facts of one’s case); and
- A permanent criminal record that may make it challenging for the offender to find a job, a suitable place to live, and the ability to attend an educational institution.
While the avoidance of jail time is a positive result in a DUI matter, the violation of a plea agreement and the terms of probation can result in jail time and additional criminal charges. Accordingly, it is always important to take DUI cases seriously as well as to hire a skilled Punta Gorda DUI Defense Lawyer to assist you in your case.
The Dismissal of DUI Charges in Punta Gorda
Not every DUI case results in a conviction at trial or a plea agreement. In many instances, the government lacked the evidence necessary to secure a criminal conviction or law enforcement obtained evidence during their investigation that is violative of a person’s constitutional rights. Whatever the case presents, if there are valid reasons why a DUI case should be dismissed, a qualified Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney will bring forth various legal defenses to the court. While not every DUI case is dismissed, a skilled Punta Gorda DUI Defense Lawyer will strive to reach said result, or at the least, seek to have the charges reduced.
If an alleged offender in a DUI matter claims that he or she is innocent and that the government lacks the evidence necessary to establish intoxication, such as when he or she passes a breathalyzer test and a field sobriety test, the defense attorney handling the case will attempt to highlight the weaknesses in the government’s case. In other words, it may be achievable to have one’s DUI case dismissed if the evidence of intoxication is based solely upon the arresting officer’s impressions. In fact, if said officer did not read to the alleged offender his or her Miranda rights, or obtains a false confession, then the defense can seek a dismissal of all charges.
If the defense does not obtain a dismissal of the case, an experienced Punta Gorda Defense Attorney will seek to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor that is both fair and reasonable. When a DUI case involves conduct that is of a felony level, a positive result achieved by the defense may be to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense, which is associated with minimal jail time. If the prosecution does not accept a plea agreement, a competent Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney will bring the case to trial.
What You Should Know About Florida’s DUI Arrest and Detention Laws
Pursuant to Florida Law, law enforcement has the discretion to detain an individual who is under suspicion for DUI for only a certain period of time after he or she is arrested. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(9), the police can only detain a suspect until one of the following has been met:
- The alleged offender’s BAC is under 0.05;
- The alleged offender has been in jail for a minimum of 8 hours; or
- The alleged offender’s faculties appear to be no longer impaired by drugs or alcohol.
If law enforcement violates the above law, then a person’s DUI charges may be reduced or outright dismissed. Hence, it is critical that a person who is charged with DUI in Punta Gorda contact a Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible after having been arrested and detained by law enforcement.
Choosing the Right Attorney is Vital in One’s DUI Case
Some people who face DUI charges in Punta Gorda decide to go pro se, or, to represent themselves. This is not recommended, as most defendants do not have the experience and knowledge necessary to raise defenses that would help them to avoid jail time and the other serious consequences associated with a DUI conviction. Accordingly, choosing to represent oneself in a Punta Gorda DUI case is an extremely risky move. Rather than avoid a DUI conviction, an alleged offender should quickly try to find a qualified Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney who knows the ins and outs of the courtroom, the prosecutor assigned to the case, the presiding judge, and the applicable law.
Given the fact that legal fees can add up, several alleged offenders decide to seek representation by a public defender without consulting with attorneys at private law firms. While many public defenders are highly competent attorneys, they often are overworked, have high caseloads, as well as limited resources to devote to one’s case. As such, an alleged offender should at the least consult with a skilled Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney to discuss his or her legal rights and options, as well as the costs for legal representation and how arrangements can be made that may be manageable to the client. Given the severe nature of the consequences associated with a DUI conviction, the costs associated with hiring a private attorney experienced in criminal law may be well worth it.
It is Important to Do Your Research When Hiring the Right Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney
Several attorneys claim to have the right amount of experience in the courtroom to successfully represent a person accused of DUI in Florida. However, this is not always the case. If an attorney is not open about what they do, their level of experience, and their ability to represent an alleged offender’s legal rights, he or she may not be the right person for the job. A Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorney who is honest, dedicated, professional, and highly experienced in criminal law, as well as has a positive reputation in the community, may be the best option for a person facing DUI charges.
At Musca Law, We Have Proven Results
At Musca Law, our Punta Gorda DUI Defense Attorneys want all potential clients facing DUI charges to see just exactly how our attorneys have had success in defending other clients in their cases. We pride ourselves on our proven track record of success defending clients who face all types of criminal charges in Florida, ranging from DUI to capital murder.
Musca Law provides various examples as to how they have assisted clients in the past. Our attorneys focus their practices exclusively on criminal law and civil injunction matters. While no attorney can guarantee a given result in a case, it is best to work with one of the skilled criminal law attorneys at Musca Law who is knowledgeable of the law as well as the criminal law procedure. Contact Musca Law now at (888) 484-5057.
Contact Musca Law Today to Receive the Representation You Deserve in Your Punta Gorda DUI Case
If you are facing DUI charges in Punta Gorda, it is critical for you to work with an attorney who has a proven track record of success. At Musca Law, our skilled team of Punta Gorda Defense Attorneys has the experience and dedication necessary to develop the strongest defense strategy on one’s behalf. We have over 150 collective years of legal experience representing clients facing DUI charges located in Punta Gorda and throughout the state of Florida. Contact us at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options. We look forward to making a difference for you.