St. Petersburg DUI Lawyers
150 Years+ of Combined Legal Experience in DUI Defense
St. Petersburg DUI lawyers at Musca Law defend individuals accused of drunk driving. People facing DUI charges in the St. Petersburg, Florida area can contact us for a no-cost consultation. We are experienced and knowledgeable St. Petersburg Defense Attorneys. A DUI conviction can have lasting negative consequences, including jail time and fines, and having a criminal record can adversely affect a person’s ability to do certain things such as obtaining student financial aid, renting housing or getting or keeping a job. Learn about DUI laws below.
Driving Under the Influence in St. Petersburg (DUI) [Florida Statute 316.193]
St. Petersburg DUI lawyers at Musca Law want to bring Florida Statutes Section 316.193 to the attention of people charged with drunk driving. It sets forth the elements of a DUI offense and the penalties that one might receive upon conviction. Under Florida law, which applies to St. Petersburg, one can be convicted of driving under the influence if:
- They had a BAC of .08 percent or more; and,
- They were operating or in control of a vehicle.
What this means is that while a person can get a DUI while driving a vehicle, they can also get one if they are simply in physical control of or have the ability to operate the vehicle. For example, if a person is drunk and passed out in a vehicle with keys in hand, they can still be arrested for and charged with DUI. An individual might also face DUI charges if they were driving while impaired to some degree by alcohol and/or drugs.
DUI Defense Lawyers in St. Petersburg, Florida
In St. Petersburg, even a first-time DUI offense can have adverse consequences that might include:
- Hefty fines.
- Depending on the circumstances of the case, up to nine months in jail.
- Suspension of driving privileges.
- Vehicle impoundment.
- Community service.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device.
- Completion of a substance abuse class.
Second DUI in St. Petersburg
A second DUI offense that occurs within five years of the first offense can result in even harsher penalties. Depending on whether there are any aggravating factors present in the case, a conviction can mean jail time for up to a year and fines of up to $2,000. A second DUI conviction can also result in driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, probation, and completion of a substance abuse class.
First-Time DUI Defense Lawyer in St. Petersburg, Florida
In St. Petersburg, driving under the influence is typically considered a misdemeanor offense. However, an individual can face felony DUI charges even if it is their first DUI offense. An individual can be charged with felony DUI in Florida if:
- The offense is the third in ten years;
- The offense is the fourth or subsequent DUI;
- A person seriously injures someone else as a result of the DUI;
- Someone is fatally injured as a result of the DUI.
In St. Petersburg, if a person is convicted of a third-degree felony DUI, they can face jail time of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
DUI Manslaughter in St. Petersburg
Florida also has a felony criminal offense known as DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter is generally considered a second-degree felony, but if the person leaves the scene of the crime, they can be charged with a first-degree felony. The penalties for a first-degree felony DUI manslaughter can include jail time of up to thirty years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Regardless of whether a person is facing a first-time DUI conviction or their third, it is imperative to consult with an experienced St. Petersburg DUI Defense Lawyer right away in order to protect and preserve legal rights.
St. Petersburg DUI Frequently Asked Questions
I performed roadside tests and failed. Why would I need a private lawyer to defend me?
One of the biggest mental roadblocks to overcome when charged with a crime is to make the decision to fight the charges. The sense of guilt that most people feel after being arrested is powerful. However, the feeling of regret that follows making a poor decision is lifelong. Defending yourself from a DUI charge is not an attempt “to get away with a crime.” Defending yourself is ensuring that our legal system is fair and just. In addition, defending yourself against DUI charges helps you to potentially minimize the penalties that you could receive. In essence, if you made a mistake and you intend to never make the same mistake again, should you receive the maximum punishments that could potentially ruin the rest of your life? Our DUI defense firm believes in defending clients to the fullest extent possible. We understand that a good person can make an error in judgment. We believe in the right of every citizen to rigorously defend themselves to protect the constitutional rights for the generations to come.
When Can I be Charged With a DUI?
In Florida, you can be arrested for driving under the influence anytime that your blood alcohol level is higher than the legal limit for driving, which is .08%. You can also be arrested for driving under the influence if you display a pronounced handicap in your everyday faculties that appears to be induced by alcohol or drugs, even if you tested with a blood alcohol level that is under the legal limit. Lastly, teenagers can be charged with driving under the influence under Florida’s zero-tolerance policy. This policy enables persons who are under the age of 21 to be charged with driving under the influence if their blood-alcohol levels are at 0.02% or higher.
What Are the Punishments For a DUI Charge?
The punishments for a DUI charge in the state of Florida hinge upon whether or not you have any previous convictions for the same charge and whether or not there were any mitigating or aggravating or factors to be considered.
On a first DUI offense, you could be fined somewhere between $500 and $1000 except in cases where your blood alcohol level exceeds .15%. If that is the case, then you can face a fine of somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. For first time offenders, the requirement is a minimum of 50 hours of supervised community service and the possibility of as long as six months in jail, or as long as nine months if your blood alcohol levels were extremely high.
The jail time, court-mandated fines, and community service hours escalate from this point on. For example, once you receive your fourth conviction, you will be facing fines that are a minimum of $2,000 and facing an incarceration term of as long as five years.
Will I Be required to Install an Ignition Interlock Device on my Car?
An ignition interlock device, also called an IID, is basically a breathalyzer test that is connected to your car. It is a piece of equipment that is installed in your vehicle, that you have to blow into so that it can test your breath alcohol level. If you meet the legal requirements, you will be allowed to start your car. According to Florida state law, any motorist who is found to be guilty of their second DUI charge will be required by law to install an ignition interlock device in their car. The installation of the device and any necessary maintenance will be paid for out of your own pocket for the duration.
Am I Going to Have a Criminal Record?
Operating a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is considered a crime in the state of Florida. You could be charged with a misdemeanor DUI or possibly with felony DUI if the courts discover that you are a repeat offender. Your felony or misdemeanor conviction will indeed be displayed on your criminal record, the same as with any other criminal conviction.
There are some changes, however, in specific cases where it might be possible to have your charges reduced to something less serious or for you to voluntarily enter a first-time DUI offender class, which will enable you to circumvent having a criminal record for the rest of your life, so long as you abide by specific demands that will be placed on you by the courts. The DUI defense attorneys at Musca Law will represent anyone who has been charged with a DUI in St. Petersburg and we will help you to decide which of these choices may be the best one for you and will begin to outline a plan in case we go to trial.
Am I Able to Defend Myself Against DUI Charges?
The short answer is yes. It is entirely possible for you to represent yourself against charges of drunk driving. Each case is separate than the one before it. Musca Law DUI attorneys will be able to advise you raise a variety of legal defenses that are available to you, including an erroneous breathalyzer test or blood test. You might also be able to demonstrate that there is a lack of evidence against you or even that your constitutional rights were, in some way, violated by law enforcement and that any evidence against you stemming from that violation needs to be quashed by the court.
The smartest route for you to take if you have your heart set on defending yourself against DUI charges in St. Petersburg is to meet with an accomplished Florida DUI attorney so that you can better educate yourself on what legal defenses will work the best in your specific circumstances.
How Can a DUI Attorney Help Me?
Retaining legal counsel to help you fight your DUI charges is undoubtedly the best way to handle the situation. Your Florida DUI attorney will be able to fully advise you of your legal rights and evaluate your case in order to give you specific details on the smartest way for you to proceed if you hope to have the charges dropped, or sidestep some of the more severe consequences of driving under the influence.
Our experienced St. Petersburg, Florida DUI attorneys are here to help you get through this ordeal and see the best possible outcome. Any additional questions that you may have are able to be addressed in our free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Boating Under the Influence Defense Attorneys in St. Petersburg, Florida
Under Florida and St. Petersburg law, a person can also be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI). Section 327.35 of the Florida Statutes provides the elements of and the penalties associated with a BUI offense. Individuals can be convicted of BUI in Florida if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were operating a vessel while under the influence or impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. A first-time BUI conviction can result in up to six months in jail and significant fines. In relation to St. Petersburg DUI offenses, the punishment for a BUI conviction can be more serious depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and whether the person has any prior criminal offenses on their record.
As St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense attorneys, it is our mission at Musca Law to do everything we possibly can in order to make sure that you receive the best possible result for your specific situation. The first step to achieving this is a meticulous review of your case. We will go over your Arrest Affidavit before we even meet with you. This will enable us to accurately decide what possible legal defenses we will be able to use that pertain to your case. It is essential to remember that just because you have been arrested for a crime, it does not mean that you will be convicted of a crime. We look for insufficiencies in the State’s case against you, disparities in the witness statements and look into every aspect of your case. Because of our determination and commitment, we have forged a solid reputation as Florida criminal defense attorneys who routinely surpass the presumptions of their clients.