Clearwater DUI Defense Attorney
Driving Under the Influence in Clearwater
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, we will fight to help you keep your license, stay out of jail, avoid fines, and allow your life to resume to normal.
Many people are stopped and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs. The results can be unclear for those involved, especially when they are not sure of their legal rights.
When you call on us at Roman & Roman, our knowledgeable Clearwater DUI attorneys will work forcefully to protect your rights as well as your freedom. We understand that facing the suspension of your driver’s license, costly fines, rocketing insurance premiums and spending time in jail is extremely serious to you. It is to us, too. That is why we will mount an effective defense strategy designed to help you keep your driver’s license, stay free of jail, and allow your life to resume to normal.
Here are the details of the possible penalties if you are convicted of a DUI. Note that the charges are more serious if the Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) is above .15:
|At the court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment.|
|First Conviction||Not more than 6 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months.|
|Second Conviction||Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.|
|Third Conviction||If third conviction within 10 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. If third conviction more than 10 years, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.|
|Fourth or Subsequent Conviction||Not more than 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as habitual offender.|
|First Conviction||First Conviction: Not less than $500, or more than $1000. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1000, or more than $2,000.|
|Second Conviction||Second Conviction: Not less than $1000, or more than $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $2,000, or more than $4,000.|
|Third Conviction||Third Conviction after more than 10 years: Not less than $2,000, or more than $5000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $4,000.|
|Fourth or Subsequent Conviction Fourth or Subsequent Conviction:||Not less than $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle. Not less than $5,000.|
|First Conviction||Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum one year.|
|Second Conviction Within 5 Years Minimum||5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after one year. Other 2nd offenders same as “A” above.|
|Third Conviction Within 10 Years||Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after two years. Other 3rd offenders same as “A” above; one conviction more than 10 years prior and one within 5 years, same as “B” above.|
Business Purpose License & Interlock
|First Conviction||Must complete DUI school, apply to department for hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for up to six months for BAL of .15 or higher, or for two years if BAL is greater than .15.|
|Second Convictions (or more)||No hardship license except as provided below. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year, effective 07/03.|
|Second Conviction Within 5 Years||(5-Year Revocation)May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after one year. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in cancellation of the hardship license). Applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year or for two years if BAL is greater than .15.|
|Third Conviction Within 10 Years||(10-Year Revocation) May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after two years. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in the cancellation of the hardship license). Applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for two years.|
Immobilization of Vehicle
|Unless the family of the defendant has no other transportion:|
|First Conviction||10 Days|
|Second Conviction within 5 years||30 days|
|Third Conviction within 10 years||90 days|
Impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration. The court may dismiss the order of impoundment of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant if they are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.
Learn More about Driving under the Influence charges: A thorough explanation of the possible consequences and different penalties of DUI are detailed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/duilaws.html.
Our Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys in Clearwater Discuss What to Expect During and After a DUI Arrest
If you have been stopped and arrested for DUI, it will help if you know what to expect. This information will assist you in being prepared for the chain of events that is set into motion by such an arrest. You will be required to do certain things within certain time frames, and failure to do what is required may result in further penalties. Your DUI defense attorneys in Clearwater will inform you and help you make sure you receive the best possible outcome following your arrest.
The Initial DUI Stop
All DUI’s begin when a law enforcement officer develops probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. The officer may notice your vehicle, driving too slow, speeding, ignoring traffic signals, weaving, and similar behavior. Any one or a combination of these actions may prompt the officer to pull over your car. At Roman & Roman, our experienced DUI defense attorneys in Clearwater will do is to pick apart the officer’s reasoning to stop your vehicle and look for ways to have your case dismissed or reduced.
Field Sobriety Exercises
Once you are stopped, the officer may look for the “classic” signs of DUI: slurred speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol, or an inability to follow directions. Based on what the officer senses, he or she may then ask you to perform Field Sobriety Exercises (FSE’s). In Florida, FSE’s are voluntary, so you do not have to do them. If the officer acts in any way that causes you to believe that you are obligated by law to perform these exercises, your performance may not qualify to be used in court. FSE’s are used by law enforcement officers to gauge your level of impairment during the DUI investigation in order to develop probable cause to make an arrest.
When the officer is administering the FSE’s, he or she will be looking to see how well you perform and how well you follow directions. The police almost always focus on what you are doing wrong and seldom focus on what you are doing right. FSE’s are highly unreliable and there are many ways to attack their results. When you hire Roman & Roman to fight your case, you will have an experienced Clearwater DUI defense attorney on your side to aggressively defend you.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (link: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/) created three standardized exercises that are regularly used during a DUI stop: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk and Turn, and the One-Legged Stand. There are set ways that law enforcement officers should give each of these exercises; if given incorrectly then the reliability of the exercises will be compromised, thus damaging the State’s case against you.
10 Day Rule
When you are arrested, the arresting officer will confiscate your license and issue you a DUI citation. That DUI citation will act as your normal driver’s license for up to 10 calendar days. Also, within those 10 days you MUST file for an Administrative Formal Review Hearing or your license may be suspended for up to 18 months. Once you have filed for this hearing you will receive what is called a hardship license that will allow you to keep driving to work or school until the hearing. At Roman & Roman, we have all the necessary forms to set this process in motion and will assist you each step of the way.
DMV Review Hearings
There are two suspensions that attach to your license after a DUI arrest: an administrative suspension and a criminal suspension. Roman & Roman will handle the details of both suspensions for you.
Administrative suspension: Refusal — If you refuse to take the breath test on your first DUI, your license will be suspended for 12 months. If you refuse the breath test on second or subsequent DUIs, your license will be suspended for 18 months.
Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level .08% or More
If you take the breath/blood test and register a .08% blood alcohol level (BAL) or more, your license will be suspended for 6 months, and then 12 months for any additional offenses with a BAL reading of .08% or more. If your license is suspended for either of the above reasons (BAL over.08% or refusal ) you must file for the Administrative Formal Review Hearing within 10 days of your arrest.
The Administrative Formal Review Hearing
This hearing will be Roman & Roman’s first opportunity to attempt to have your driving suspension invalidated – that is, get you your NORMAL license back. At the hearing, a Hearing Officer will determine whether you were stopped lawfully, whether the officer had probable cause to believe you were the driver, whether there was probable cause to arrest you, whether you were informed of the consequences of not submitting to a breath test, and whether you refused the test after being informed of those consequences.
The Administrative Pre-Trial Hardship Hearing
If you took the blood/breath test and register .08% BAL or more, you must serve 30 days without any permit/license to be eligible for this hearing and if you refused, you must serve 90 days without any permit/license to be eligible. This hearing is used to obtain a hardship license during the time your case is pending in criminal court and will allow you to drive to school or work. Be sure to bring with you to the hearing:
- Proof of enrollment in DUI school
- Proof of employment or school
Clearwater DUI Defense Attorneys Discuss Criminal Suspension
The Post-Conviction Drivers License Suspension — If you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, the judge may suspend your license for a period of 6 months up to 10 years depending upon the number of convictions for DUI and the time in between each conviction. If you took the blood/breath test and registered .08% BAL or more you must serve 30 days without any permit/license to be eligible for the Administrative Post-Conviction Hardship Hearing, and if you refused you must serve 90 days without any permit/license to be eligible. After a DUI conviction, this hearing will allow you to drive to school or work. Be sure to bring with you to the hearing:
- Proof of completion of DUI school
- Proof of employment or school
Costs Associated with Obtaining Your Hardship License:
- $115 administrative fee
- $35 reinstatement fee
These fees will be required unless you provide proof of liability insurance in effect on the DUI arrest date.
Seek Immediate Consultation from Our Experienced Clearwater DUI Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI, it is important to retain the services of an experienced, reputable lawyer. When you decide to retain Roman & Roman Law, you will have an experienced criminal defense attorney defending you in court against the possible penalties and repercussions of a DUI.
Contact Roman & Roman Criminal Defense at 877.767.1032 for a free consultation about your case. We also handle personal injury and business and real estate law cases. We will fight to preserve your rights and return your life back to normal.