Daytona Beach DUI Lawyer
Handling Drunk Driving Charges in Volusia County, FL
If you or someone you love has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you face a number of penalties if convicted. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the more common criminal offenses in the Volusia County and Daytona Beach area. With Florida’s legal blood alcohol limit leaving little room for error, one can be considered legally intoxicated after consumption of only a few drinks.
Florida takes a tough stance on DUIs, and subjects convicted individuals to a number of short- and long-term penalties, all of which have the potential to threaten one’s personal and professional future. An experienced attorney may be able to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed entirely, helping you avoid the harsh penalties of Florida law. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our Daytona Beach DUI attorneys draw from over 40 years of combined experience to help you pursue the best outcome possible in your case.
How Is a DUI Defined in Florida?
Florida Statute 316.193 enumerates the elements for driving under the influence.
Under this law, a person commits an offense when they:
- Are in actual or physical control of a vehicle and
- They were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or
- They had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher.
To be "under the influence" means that the individual's normal faculties (such as seeing, hearing, or judging distances) are diminished to the point that the driver cannot safely control their vehicle.
It's important to note that a person need not have been driving their vehicle to be accused of DUI. "Actual or physical control" means that the person was in or near the car and they could have started it up.
What to Do After a Florida DUI Arrest
If you've been arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, this may be your first brush with the law, and you might not be sure what to do. It's important to know what steps you can take to help avoid or minimize any substantial impacts on your case's outcome.
Below are a few things you can do after being arrested for a DUI in Daytona Beach:
- Stay calm: Throughout your DUI case, it's crucial to keep a cool head. You might be feeling worried or scared, and you might not be thinking clearly. Still, trying to alleviate your fears by verbally or physically fighting the arrest can negatively impact you in the long run. Even if you're trying to reason with the officer or explain why your driving might have been erratic, anything you say can be used against you. Additionally, if you use physical force to prevent the officer from taking you into custody, that may be considered resisting and could result in additional charges.
- Remain silent: As alluded to above, any responses you give or statements you make can be used as evidence against you. From the moment the officer pulls you over, law enforcement officials are looking for anything that can strengthen the case against you. After you're lawfully arrested, an officer will likely read the Miranda warning, advising you that you have the right to remain silent. It's vital that you invoke this Fifth Amendment right and wait until your attorney is present to answer questions.
- Know what charge you're facing: Understanding the charge against you is important for building your defense. It'll help you pay attention to all the little details as your matter progresses, which you can eventually hand over to your lawyer for review. Anything that violates your rights or lawful procedures can help attack the accusations made against you.
- Speak with an attorney: The law is complicated, and even if you understand the charge you're facing, DUI matters are nuanced, and such cases should be handled by someone familiar with them. A lawyer can explain the situation, the potential outcomes, and your legal options. They can also advise you on when and how to respond to law enforcement officials' questions and build a solid defense on your behalf.
- Seek to prevent administrative driver's license suspension: Your driver's license is in jeopardy the moment you're arrested for drunk driving. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can take away your driving privileges even before your case concludes. You have 10 days to request a hearing to challenge this action.
- Work on your defense: Even though you might have been charged with a DUI and the state may have collected evidence against you, all hope isn't lost. As mentioned before, these matters are complex and dynamic. Anything from your initial traffic stop to the chemical test being administered can be called into question and cast doubt on the prosecutor's case. An attorney can help build a persuasive argument on your behalf.
Penalties for DUI in Volusia County, FL
When charged for DUI, most people are concerned about the penalties handed down in criminal courts – and for good reason.
Even a first-time offense can pose considerable consequences, including:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to $2,000 in fines (with BAC over .15 or minor in the vehicle)
- Community service (50 hours)
- Up to 6 months imprisonment
- Up to 9 months imprisonment (with BAC over .15 or minor in the vehicle)
- Vehicle impoundment or immobilization
- License revocation between 180 days and 1 year
It is important to note that the unique facts and circumstances involved in a case will have an impact on the severity of penalties involved.
Florida Second DUI Penalties
A second DUI conviction within 5 years of a first offense will result in enhanced penalties. This includes increased fines and terms of imprisonment.
Additionally, a minimum license revocation of 5 years, with possible hardship license after 1 year. Other second DUI offenders face license revocations between 180 days and 1 year.
Florida Third DUI Penalties
A third DUI within 10 years results in very steep fines and a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 30 days. A third DUI within 10 years is a third degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
It will also result in a minimum driver’s license revocation of 10 years. After two years, motorists may be able to obtain a hardship license.
Florida Fourth or Subsequent DUI Penalties
A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction can result in felony charges, with is the most serious offense a person can face. Four DUIs or more will subject you to thousands of dollars in fines and up to 5 years in a state prison. Per Florida law, you will also be labeled as a habitual / violent offender.
Regardless of when prior DUI convictions occurred, motorists who have four or more DUI convictions will have their driver’s licenses permanently revoked without the possibility of hardship reinstatement.
Florida High BAC or Minor Passenger Penalties
In any DUI case, having an excessively high BAC level (above .15) or having a minor in the vehicle during an arrest is grounds for increased penalties. Individuals charged for DUI with either aggravating factor typically see increased fines and increased terms of imprisonment, regardless of whether it is their first offense or not.
Florida DUI Resulting in Accidents & Injuries Penalties
DUIs resulting in accidents, injuries, or even death result in the most serious charges. Typically, these cases are prosecuted as felonies. DUI resulting in bodily injury, for example, is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony, and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison (or 30 years if a person also fled the scene).
Additionally, the license revocations for these convictions include:
- DUI with Injury: DUI resulting in injury will result in a minimum license revocation of 1 year.
- DUI Manslaughter: DUI manslaughter will result in a mandatory permanent license revocation. However, if a driver has no prior DUI conviction on their record, they may be eligible for a hardship reinstatement after 5 years.
Florida's Implied Consent Law
Under Florida Statute 316.1932, any person who operates a vehicle in the state is considered to have given their permission to be subject to a chemical test in a DUI case. The law is referred to as "implied consent" because permission was not explicitly given, but the state "deems" such was provided when the individual accepted their driving privileges.
Under the implied consent law, a driver may be subject to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine the level of alcohol and/or drugs in their system. The chemical test can be given only if the officer had reasonable cause to believe that the driver was under the influence, and they made a lawful arrest. The officer must also notify the driver that refusal to participate will result in a driver's license suspension of up to 18 months.
Administrative License Hearing in Florida
In addition to penalties handed down in criminal court, motorists charged for DUI will also face repercussions to their driving privileges. Following an arrest, you have only 10 days to request an administrative hearing in order to protect your license from automatic suspension and challenge any administrative actions.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles takes an exceedingly tough stance on drivers charged for DUI, especially when multiple offenses or aggravating circumstances are involved. Because license revocations can significantly impact your ability to meet the demands of daily life and find transportation to work, you need to take steps to protect your driving privileges by working with an experienced legal team.
Defense from Our Daytona Beach DUI Attorneys
As former Florida prosecutors, the lawyers of Hager & Schwartz, P.A. have a real edge when it comes to formulating a defense for a client’s DUI charges. Every angle of your case will be thoroughly examined to evaluate if the police followed proper legal procedure during your arrest. Something as simple as an officer neglecting to read you your rights upon arrest can lead to dismissal of your case.
Another key to an effective DUI defense is learning with what degree of accuracy the blood or breath tests were administered, as sometimes these testing methods can produce false results. Your Daytona Beach DUI lawyer will study every aspect of a blood or breath test to find out if the results are inaccurate, which can benefit your case greatly.
I thoroughly recommend Brett Schwartz as a defense attorney.- Michael
Should you ever need a defense attorney, he is the person to contact.- Lisbeth
If you need help go see Brett!- Sally
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