Stuart DUI Lawyers
150 Years of Combined Stuart DUI Defense Practice
If a law enforcement officer presumes that you were operating your vehicle while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the Stuart area, you will most likely find yourself under arrest and facing charges of driving while intoxicated. At Musca Law, we recognize that this circumstance may be scary and definitely stressful, but it is important to keep in mind that being charged with driving under the influence is not the same as being convicted. There are a lot of steps that you are able to take in order to circumvent being found guilty and to lessen the punishments that you might face, as long as you act immediately.
Under Florida state law, drunk driving is usually classified as a misdemeanor charge. The consequences of being found guilty of DUI, however, are both swift and severe, and they won’t be going away anytime soon. The outcomes can and will negatively affect your social, professional, and personal life. That is why you need to hire a professional Stuart drunk driving attorney to defend your rights.
What Happens After I am Charged With a DUI?
If you are charged with driving while intoxicated anywhere in the State of Florida:
- You will be held in jail for a minimum of eight hours
- Your driver’s license will be immediately suspended
- You will be allowed to drive for the next ten days, provided that your driver’s license was in good standing at the time of the incident
- You have only those ten days in which to request a formal review hearing to try and have your license reinstated
- A temporary license may be issued until the date of your hearing for a maximum of 45 days
Penalties of Driving Under the Influence
If you are a first-time DUI offender, you could face the following legal repercussions:
- Mandatory enrollment in a DUI school
- Maximum of six months in county jail
- Suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of one year
- Minimum of 50 hours of community service
- Minimum of $250 in court costs with a maximum of $500
- Maximum of one year of probation
- Enrollment in a victim awareness program
- Impoundment of your vehicle
- Permanent DUI conviction on your record, which is a criminal charge
Once you are charged with your second DUI, you will naturally be subjected to much harsher penalties, which will likely include a longer and more expensive advanced DUI school, much larger fines, an ignition interlock device installed in your car for no less than one year, a prolonged suspension of your driver’s license, and the very real possibility of a longer jail sentence. Incarceration could be compulsory, depending on how recent your prior conviction was. If you have been convicted of numerous DUIs, you will most likely be charged as a felon. A charge of felony DUI could bring with it a sentence of up to five years in state prison and a permanent revocation of your driver’s license.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Stuart or any other part of Florida, it is imperative that you are familiar with the 10-Day Rule, which says that a driver has exactly 10 days from their DUI arrest date in which to seek out a formal review hearing and dispute the administrative suspension of their license. Provided that you are able to request the hearing within this time frame, a temporary driver’s license will be issued to you, making it legal for you to drive for the duration of the temporary license, which is usually one week.
If, however, the formal review hearing is NOT obtained within this 10-day window, your driver's license will be suspended. This license suspension will last for anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on the specifics of your individual case. You are permitted to drive using your DUI citation from the police as a valid driving permit during the ten days following your DUI arrest.
Successfully fighting charges of driving while intoxicated requires extensive legal knowledge, special skills, and experience in the criminal justice system. Our expertise here at Musca Law comes from our representation of thousands of clients that have all been charged with DUIs.
An experienced Stuart DUI lawyer in our Florida law offices will evaluate your case and decide if you were unjustly charged. We will use every available means to disprove your case and receive the best possible result in your favor, all while avoiding any extensive suspension of your driving privileges and assisting you in returning your life to normal.
DUI with Property Damage
Oftentimes, when someone is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, property damage is involved. This offshoot of a standard DUI charge is charged as DUI with Property Damage. Harsher punishments will accompany a common DUI charge in the event that the driver has also been involved in an accident that caused property damage to another car or caused non-serious bodily injury to another person. These harsher penalties may include a longer mandatory length of jail time to serve and much higher fines to be paid to the courts.
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
In the event that the criminal charge should include a serious injury to another person, the charges will grow even more severe. What was a simple driving under the influence charge has now grown into a third-degree felony. If another person has been seriously injured as a result of your car accident, even if that other person was a passenger in your very own vehicle, the minimum penalty for a criminal charge of DUI with Serious Bodily Injury is five years incarceration in a Florida state prison.
When a person is killed by an alleged drunk driver, they are charged with DUI manslaughter.
To ensure that you are convicted for a charge of DUI manslaughter, prosecutors must prove that you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time and that your operation of the vehicle caused, or contributed to causing, the death of any human being, including an unborn child.
DUI manslaughter is charged as a second-degree felony under Florida law, carrying with it a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison. If more than one person should die, then there is absolutely no guarantee that each 15-year prison term will not be sentenced to run consecutively, rather than concurrently.
A DUI Manslaughter charge could be filed as a first-degree felony, which would bring with it a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. This would only be the case if, at the time of the deadly accident, the at-fault driver was aware or should have been aware that the accident had occurred but neglected to give the information or render any aid, both of which are required by law. In layman’s terms, a drunk hit-and-run.
The minimum sentence for a charge of DUI manslaughter is four years. Some recent changes to the state law also make it a four-year minimum sentence for fleeing the scene of a deadly collision, and that is with the prosecutors proving that you were drinking. This new law was enacted as a way of getting rid of the benefit that drunk drivers saw to flee the scenes of fatal car crashes.
Urine, Blood, and Breath Testing
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer test and blow over the .08% legal blood alcohol limit or receive blood test result that is over .08%, don't just assume that you will not be able to fight your DUI charges. Breath and blood tests frequently have incorrect or inaccurate results. Breath and blood testing equipment may not be calibrated properly, the operator may have had inadequate training or the blood samples may have been illegally or improperly collected.
The instruments that are used for testing your breath are very delicate and they need to be accurately calibrated prior to and following each use. Also, law enforcement officers are required to follow a very precise protocol in order to ensure that the results will be as true as possible and that they will be allowed in court. In New Port Richey, the most frequently used method for testing a suspected drunk driver’s blood alcohol level is with the Intoxilyzer 8000 which uses infrared spectroscopy to perform its breath analysis.
Even though your breath analysis might be the most pressing evidence against you, it could be false. Any breath testing unit has the potential for error, just like any other machine. The portable testing units found in police patrol cars have been known to fail since the machine can be thrown off by radio waves and temperature. Other obstacles that are involved in breath testing during a traffic stop could be any of the following:
- People who smoke cigarettes since smoking is able to raise the amount of acetaldehyde in their lungs, which the breathalyzer unit may identify as alcohol
- People who have diabetes or hypoglycemia could give false readings from the acetone in their system
- Having burped recently
- Consuming a certain diet
- Going without food for an extended period of time
It is essential that the specifics of how you were tested are examined by a legal professional who is knowledgeable on the various ways that a breathalyzer test is able to be incorrect and erroneously result in a charge for drunk driving.
Blood test specimens are able to be tainted while they are being processed in the lab and at the point of acquisition. Blood alcohol content could still elevate following a police stop, and your blood alcohol level at the time you were actually driving could be lower than what was recorded when your sample was finally obtained. There is a distinct method that has to be observed when blood is being tested. For starters, your arm MAY NOT be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), since this will affect your blood alcohol level.
Also, blood samples are capable of fermenting if they are not correctly stored. They could also potentially be combined with other blood samples if the protocols are not followed precisely. After the blood collection is complete, the whole sample has to be tested, not just the plasma, which is usually what is done. Even a flawlessly executed test is able to give a false reading and result in an inaccurate blood alcohol level. Talk to our Stuart DUI defense attorneys about exactly what transpired when you took your blood test.
Of the three testing methods, the urine test is less reliable when it comes to testing for drugs than the blood test. Even so, the current inclination now seems to be to use the urine test if the results are unable to be established by blood tests. When someone is arrested for driving under the influence of narcotics, the state is allowed to use the urine test results in order to establish the driver’s intoxication. These tests usually do not hold up under close analysis, because there are so many different, legal substances that could easily produce a spurious reading.
The issue with this tactic is that urine tests are very unreliable in that they are unable to ascertain the point in time at which a drug was used. Once drugs have been metabolized in the body they leave behind minuscule traces called metabolites. If metabolites are present, then the actual drug itself has already been processed. Urine analysis only detects these metabolites in the body, so depending on the drug that was taken, and the amount of it that is present in the urine test, it is very tricky, if not impossible, to accurately find out whether or not the drug was actually in the suspect’s bloodstream at the time of their offense.
Musca Law DUI Defense
If you know that you are facing charges for driving while intoxicated, or any other criminal traffic violation, it is imperative that you have an experienced attorney representing you in court. An attorney can examine the evidence against you and work to get your charges reduced to reckless driving, or possibly even dismissed. At the Musca Law offices in Stuart, we realize that being charged with a DUI is a stressful and frightening experience.
To schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation in the Stuart area, please get in touch with our reliable criminal defense attorneys by calling (888) 484-5057 today.