Tampa DUI Lawyers

Over 150 Years Combined Experience in DUI Defense in Tampa FL

Tampa DUI and drunk driving defense attorneys at Musca Law provide facts about the law to our clients. This helps them understand the potential penalties, how the law is applied and the potential defenses against the charges. It is true that being arrested and charged with a DUI can mean serious consequences. At Musca Law we educate our clients, explain our past successes and provide realistic expectations for their particular case. For those who have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is important to consider consulting with an experienced Tampa DUI Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Also, check out our "DUI Investigation Mistakes to Avoid" article.

Here is the DUI law:

Tampa FL DUI Laws – Statute 316.193 – Driving Under The Influence

Tampa DUI laws and penalties are laid out in Florida Statutes Section 316.193 which provides the elements of and penalties associated with driving under the influence. In Tampa, an individual can be convicted of DUI if it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The blood alcohol concentration or BAC was .08 percent or more; and,
  • The person was operating or in physical control of a vehicle.

Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Musca Law want people to know that this means a person doesn’t actually need to be driving a vehicle in order to be convicted of driving under the influence in Florida. As long as the person charged is in physical control of the vehicle, or has the ability to operate the vehicle, they can be charged with a DUI. Under Tampa FL law, a person can also face DUI charges if they were driving while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Moreover, persons could face a Federal DUI criminal charge if caught driving while under the influence along federal roads, federal parks, military bases, another federal property.

Tampa DUI Lawyer - First-Time Offense Penalties

First-time DUI offenses in Tampa can have serious consequences that include:

  • Up to nine months in jail depending on the case facts and circumstances.
  • Driver’s license suspension.
  • Fines of up to $2,000.
  • Impoundment of the vehicle.
  • Community service.
  • Probation.
  • Use of an ignition interlock device.
  • A substance abuse class.

Tampa Second-Time DUI Defense Attorneys

In Tampa people facing a second DUI conviction in less than five years can face more severe penalties. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the penalties can include fines of up to $2,000 and time in jail for up to a year. Other adverse impacts of a DUI conviction on the individual’s criminal record can include probation, vehicle impoundment, suspension of driving privileges, an Ignition Interlock Device installed in the vehicle, and completion of a substance abuse course.

Tampa Florida Felony DUI Defense Attorneys

When is DUI Charged as a Felony in Florida?

DUI’s in Tampa are a misdemeanor offense in most situations, such as a "Medical Marijuana DUI,"  "DUI Manslaughter" or "DUI with Injury," but an individual can be charged with a felony DUI even if it is their first offense. A DUI is considered a felony in Tampa FL if:

  • It’s the third DUI within ten years
  • It is the person’s fourth or subsequent DUI
  • An individual is seriously injured as a result of the DUI
  • An individual is fatally injured as a result of the DUI

A third-degree felony DUI conviction in Tampa can mean a jail sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.

DUI Manslaughter Defense in Tampa, Florida

DUI manslaughter is a felony offense in Tampa or anywhere in Florida. As a second-degree felony, the penalties are even more severe. The offense is considered a first-degree felony if the accused left the scene of the crime. A first-degree felony DUI can result in fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to thirty years.

DUI Defense for Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Holders in Tampa, Florida

In Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) laws apply to all drivers, including commercial driver's license (CDL) holders. However, CDL holders face stricter penalties and regulations than non-commercial drivers when it comes to DUI offenses. For example, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for CDL holders is 0.04%, half of the 0.08% limit for non-commercial drivers. If a CDL holder is convicted of a DUI, they face a mandatory one-year suspension of their commercial driving privileges for a first offense, and a lifetime revocation for a second offense. Additionally, a DUI conviction can have severe consequences for a CDL holder's career and employment opportunities. Therefore, it is crucial for CDL holders to seek the help of an experienced Tampa CDL Holder DUI Defense Attorney who can help them navigate the legal system and protect their rights.

Tampa Boating Under the Influence Defense Attorneys

Tampa BUI Lawyers at Musca Law have been defending people charged with Boating Under Th Influence for decades. According to Section 327.35 of the Florida Statutes, a person can be convicted of boating under the influence or BUI if the prosecution can establish certain elements. To be convicted of BUI in Tampa, it must be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was operating a vessel while under the influence or impaired by alcohol or drugs. The consequences of a first-time BUI conviction can include up to six months in jail and significant fines. As with DUI offenses in Tampa, the penalties associated with BUI convictions can be more severe depending on the circumstances and facts of the case and whether the person charged has a criminal history. Our firm also represents people charged with BUI Manslaughter, BUI with Injury, and all other felony offenses throughout Florida.

What to Do If You Are Being Detained or Questioned By Law Enforcement in Tampa

Being detained or questioned by law enforcement can be a stressful and intimidating experience. Whether you are innocent or guilty, it is important to know your rights and what steps to take to protect yourself. In this article, we will discuss what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

1.    Stay calm and be polite - The first and most important thing to do is to stay calm and be polite. Remember that law enforcement officers are doing their job, and getting angry or defensive will only make the situation worse. Do not argue, resist or interfere with the officer, as this can lead to further charges.

2.    Ask if you are free to leave - If you are not under arrest, you have the right to leave. You can ask the officer if you are free to leave, and if they say yes, calmly and respectfully walk away. If the officer says no, you are being detained, and you should ask them why and what the reason for the detention is.

3.    Know your rights - It is important to know your rights, as this can help protect you from unlawful detention or questioning. You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You also have the right to an attorney and to have that attorney present during any questioning. If you are arrested, the officer must read you your Miranda rights, which include your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.

4.    Be careful what you say - If you do choose to speak with law enforcement, be careful what you say. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so it is important to be truthful, but also cautious. Do not lie, as this can lead to further charges, but also do not provide unnecessary information.

5.    Ask for an attorney - If you are being questioned and feel uncomfortable or unsure about what to say, ask for an attorney. This is your right, and the officer must provide you with an opportunity to speak with an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one for you.

6.    Do not consent to a search - If the officer asks to search your belongings or property, you have the right to refuse. It is important to be polite and respectful when doing so, but also firm. If the officer has a warrant, they do not need your consent, but if they do not have a warrant, you do not have to consent to the search.

7.    Document the encounter - If possible, document the encounter. This can include taking notes, recording the conversation (if legal in your state), or writing down the officer's name and badge number. This can be helpful if you need to file a complaint or if the encounter leads to legal action.

8.    File a complaint if necessary - If you feel that your rights have been violated, or you were treated unfairly by law enforcement, you can file a complaint. This can be done with the officer's department or with a civil rights organization. It is important to provide as much detail as possible about the encounter and any evidence you have.

Being detained or questioned by law enforcement can be a stressful experience. However, knowing your rights and following these steps can help protect you and ensure that the encounter is handled legally and fairly. Remember to stay calm, be polite, and ask for an attorney if necessary.

What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney During Your Free Consultation?

If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Many attorneys offer free consultations, which can be a valuable opportunity to discuss your case and determine whether the attorney is the right fit for you. Here are some questions to ask during your free consultation:

1.    What experience do you have with cases like mine?
It is important to choose an attorney who has experience with cases similar to yours. Ask about the attorney's experience with cases involving the same charges or legal issues as your case. You may also want to ask about the attorney's success rate in these cases.

2.    What is your approach to handling cases like mine?
Each attorney may have a different approach to handling criminal cases. Some attorneys may be more aggressive in pursuing a defense, while others may take a more collaborative approach with the prosecutor. Ask the attorney about their approach and whether it aligns with your goals for your case.

3.    What is your availability and communication style?
You will want to choose an attorney who is available to answer your questions and provide updates on your case. Ask about the attorney's availability and preferred method of communication. You may also want to ask how quickly the attorney typically responds to client inquiries.

4.    What are the potential outcomes for my case?
Ask the attorney about the potential outcomes for your case. They should be able to provide a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and what outcomes are possible. This can help you to manage your expectations and make informed decisions about how to proceed.

5.    What is your fee structure?
It is important to understand the attorney's fee structure before hiring them. Ask about their hourly rate, retainer fee, and any other expenses that may be associated with your case. You may also want to ask whether they offer payment plans or other options for managing the cost of legal representation.

6.    Can you provide references or testimonials from past clients?
Ask the attorney if they can provide references or testimonials from past clients. This can give you a sense of the attorney's track record and how satisfied their clients have been with their representation.

7.    What is your assessment of the strength of the prosecution's case?
Ask the attorney about their assessment of the prosecution's case against you. They should be able to provide a clear analysis of the evidence and how it may be used against you in court. This can help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case and make informed decisions about how to proceed.

8.    What is your strategy for defending me in court?
Ask the attorney about their strategy for defending you in court. They should be able to provide a clear plan for how they will approach your case, including any potential defenses or legal arguments they may use.

Choosing the right criminal defense attorney can be a critical decision when facing criminal charges. During your free consultation, be sure to ask about the attorney's experience, approach, availability, potential outcomes, fee structure, references, assessment of the prosecution's case, and strategy for defending you in court. By asking these questions, you can make an informed decision about which attorney is the right fit for your case.

What Are the Stages of a Criminal Case in Florida

If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, it is important to understand the stages of a criminal case. The criminal justice system can be complex and confusing, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the process ahead. Here are the stages of a criminal case in Florida.
1.    Arrest - The first stage of a criminal case is the arrest. This occurs when law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person being arrested committed the crime. The person is then taken into custody and brought to a detention facility.

2.    First Appearance - Within 24 hours of the arrest, the person will have a first appearance before a judge. At this hearing, the judge will inform the person of the charges against them, set bail if applicable, and appoint an attorney if the person cannot afford one.

3.    Arraignment - The arraignment is the next stage of a criminal case in Florida. At this hearing, the person will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges. If the person pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set.

4.    Pre-Trial Motions - Before the trial begins, the defense attorney may file pre-trial motions to challenge evidence or request that certain evidence be excluded from the trial. The prosecutor may also file pre-trial motions to request additional evidence or witnesses.

5.    Plea Negotiations - During the pre-trial stage, the prosecutor and defense attorney may engage in plea negotiations. This involves the defense attorney and prosecutor discussing potential plea deals, such as reducing charges or offering a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

6.    Trial - If a plea agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime. The defense attorney will present evidence and argue on behalf of the accused.

7.    Sentencing - If the person is found guilty, the next stage is sentencing. The judge will consider factors such as the severity of the crime, the person's criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating factors. The judge will then determine the appropriate sentence.

8.    Appeal - If the person is found guilty, they may have the option to file an appeal. This involves challenging the verdict or sentence in a higher court. The appeal process can be lengthy and complex, and it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side.

The stages of a criminal case in Florida involve an arrest, first appearance, arraignment, pre-trial motions, plea negotiations, trial, sentencing, and potentially an appeal. It is important to understand these stages and work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights. A skilled attorney can help to challenge evidence, negotiate a plea agreement, and present a strong defense at trial to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

The Differences Between Public Defenders and Private Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are facing criminal charges, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. While some defendants may qualify for a public defender, others may choose to hire a private criminal defense attorney. Here are the differences between public defenders and hiring a private criminal defense attorney.


The most obvious difference between a public defender and a private criminal defense attorney is the cost. Public defenders are provided to defendants who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Public defenders are paid by the government, and their services are free to the defendant.

Private criminal defense attorneys, on the other hand, charge fees for their services. These fees can vary widely depending on the attorney's experience, the complexity of the case, and other factors. Some private attorneys charge a flat fee, while others charge an hourly rate.

Experience and Expertise

Public defenders are typically experienced attorneys who have worked in criminal defense for many years. They often handle a large number of cases and have experience representing clients with a variety of charges. However, because public defenders are appointed by the court, defendants may not have a say in who their attorney is or the level of experience that the attorney has.

Private criminal defense attorneys, on the other hand, can offer more personalized service and tailor their approach to the specific needs of the defendant. Private attorneys may have more experience in certain types of cases or in certain jurisdictions. They may also have access to resources that public defenders do not, such as private investigators or expert witnesses.


Public defenders often have heavy caseloads and may be handling multiple cases at the same time. This can result in less individual attention and less time spent on each case. Private criminal defense attorneys, on the other hand, typically have fewer cases and can devote more time and attention to each client.

Level of Control

Defendants who hire private criminal defense attorneys have more control over their case than those who are represented by public defenders. Private attorneys will work closely with their clients to develop a defense strategy and will keep their clients informed of all developments in the case. Defendants who are represented by public defenders may have less control over their case and may not be kept informed of all developments.


Public defenders often work with limited resources and may not have access to the same resources as private criminal defense attorneys. This can make it more difficult for public defenders to conduct thorough investigations or to provide expert witnesses. Private attorneys, on the other hand, may have access to more resources and may be able to provide a more comprehensive defense.

The choice between a public defender and a private criminal defense attorney depends on a number of factors, including cost, experience, workload, level of control, and resources. While public defenders are experienced attorneys who provide free services to those who cannot afford a private attorney, private criminal defense attorneys can offer more personalized service, more resources, and more control over the case. Ultimately, the decision to hire a private attorney or to accept a public defender will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the preferences of the defendant.

How to Choose a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa?

Choosing the right criminal defense attorney in Tampa is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. A qualified attorney can help protect your rights, advocate for your interests, and provide guidance and support throughout the legal process. Here are some tips on how to choose a qualified criminal defense attorney in Tampa.

1.    Look for experience in criminal defense
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a criminal defense attorney is their experience in handling criminal cases. Look for an attorney who has experience in the specific area of law that relates to your case. An experienced attorney will have a better understanding of the legal process and may be able to identify potential defenses or strategies to help your case.

2.    Check their track record of success
In addition to experience, it is important to consider the attorney's track record of success. Look for an attorney who has a history of winning cases similar to yours. You can also check online reviews or ask for references to get a better understanding of the attorney's reputation and client satisfaction.

3.    Evaluate their communication skills
Communication is key when it comes to working with an attorney. Look for an attorney who is responsive and communicative, and who takes the time to explain complex legal concepts in a way that is easy to understand. You should also feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns throughout the legal process.

4.    Consider their fees and billing structure
While cost should not be the only factor in your decision, it is important to consider the attorney's fees and billing structure. Ask about their fee structure, including any retainer fees or hourly rates. You should also ask about any additional costs that may be associated with your case, such as expert witness fees or court fees.

5.    Check their credentials and reputation
Before hiring an attorney, it is important to check their credentials and reputation. Look for an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Florida and who has a good standing with the Florida Bar Association. You can also check online reviews or ask for references to get a better understanding of their reputation.

6.    Look for someone who understands your needs
Finally, it is important to choose an attorney who understands your needs and goals. Look for an attorney who takes the time to listen to your concerns and who is willing to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. You should also choose an attorney who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to represent your interests in court.

Choosing a qualified criminal defense attorney in Tampa is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. Look for an attorney with experience in criminal defense, a track record of success, strong communication skills, a reasonable fee structure, and a good reputation. By taking the time to choose the right attorney, you can help ensure a fair outcome for your case and protect your rights and interests throughout the legal process.

Tampa Frequently Asked Questions

Should I hire a private attorney to defend me?

Ultimately, the decision to use a public defender or a private attorney will have to be decided. The advantages of retaining a private attorney are numerous. For example, a private attorney will typically represent you in your DMV administrative hearing to help you keep your driving privileges. This way you are able to drive to work and continue to earn a living. Contact our law firm to discuss the beneficial legal services that we can offer you.

I failed the roadside tests. Should I just plead guilty?

One of the best reasons to retain an attorney is advocacy. As your defense team, our goal is to tell your side of the story and to explain to the court who you are as a citizen. Representation from a skilled Tampa DUI defense attorney can reduce your charges and reduce the court assessed penalties.

Will a prior DUI conviction in another state affect my current DUI case?

In Florida, the State Attorney's Office will likely use any prior DUI convictions in order for a judge to pass down harsher penalties should the prosecutor when your conviction for Dui. This would also include DY convictions in other states. This is one of those times when you need an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer on your case. An experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney will file a motion to "strike "any prior convictions.  

What are some of the signs of intoxication that a law-enforcement officer will look for during a roadside DUI investigation?

In the state of Florida, police officers attend standardized drunk driving training courses to teach them how to identify an individual who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some of these warning signs might include: 

A flushed face; 
Bloodshot, Glassey, watery eyes;
Sluggish motor skills;
Failure to answer questions properly;
Instability while attempting to keep their balance on 1 foot;

It is important to know that any potential sign of impairment may not be impairment but disability. For example, an officer might think the driver is intoxicated because they have slurred speech. However, The suspect they have a speech impediment. And since the officer likely doesn't know the defendant personally, it could be argued with success in court that the officer had no probable cause for the stop and the DYI investigation.

Am I required by law to perform any roadside Field Sobriety Test? 

In the state of Florida, drivers may refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. However, the punishments for test refusal continued to become harsher. There are no criminal punishments for refusing to perform a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests were often recorded on the law enforcement officer's dashcam. Therefore, it might be in your best interest to decline to perform field sobriety tests.  

Read our other DUI pages:

Before you make this important life decision, it is essential that you speak with a private DUI defense attorney. This way you are able to weigh all of our options and make an educated decision on which option is best for you.

Time is of the essence, and every moment counts. Reach out to Musca Law, P.A. today at (813) 362-5623 or visit our office in Tampa, Florida, to receive the guidance, advocacy, and legal expertise you need. Together, we can work towards a better tomorrow.

Tampa Office

Musca Law
625 East Twiggs Street, Suite 1000, Unit 117
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 362-5623

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