Beating DUI Charges, DUI Consequences and Importance of DUI Attorney
DUI charges are usually based on a person’s BAC or blood alcohol concentration and may be determined by the administering of a breath, blood or urine test (which is usually conducted if drugs are suspected). All 50 states and the District of Columbia have set a BAC limit. Most states have a legal limit of 0.08 for citizens over age 21.
Can you beat a DUI charge?
There are steps you can take to get the charges reduced or to beat a DUI conviction and be acquitted, or found not guilty, of the charge (source, details )
1. Determine if you have a defense. The first step in beating any DUI charge is to determine if you have a legal defense to the crime. If you have a legal defense, you may be able to get the prosecutor to drop the charge against you or consider a plea agreement or a judge or jury to find you not guilty. Defenses to DUI may include:
- Involuntary Intoxication. If you were intoxicated involuntarily, such as if your drink was spiked, you may be able to use a defense of involuntary intoxication.
- Duress. If you were driving in order to prevent death or bodily injury from occurring, you may be able to use the defense of necessity. An example of duress would be someone holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to drive.
- Mistake of Fact. If you were mistaken about the fact that you were intoxicated, such as if you though the effects of your prescription had already worn off, you may be able to use a defense of mistake of fact.
2. Plea bargain. Probably the most common way of avoiding a DUI conviction is through a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement between a person charged with a crime (the defendant) and the prosecutor, wherein the defendant pleads guilty, usually to some lesser charge, in exchange for not having to stand trial, and a sentence upon which both parties agree.
3. Challenge the traffic stop. In order to stop a driver, an officer must have a “reasonable and articulate basis” to believe that a traffic or other law has been, or is being, violated. For example, if an officer said that a driver was weaving, that would not be considered a reasonable excuse to stop the driver, because weaving within your own lane is not a violation of any law. Not only must the officer provide a reason for the stop that a Court will find reasonable, but he or she must also be able to articulate that reason.
4. Challenge the officer’s suspicion that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In order to establish reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer will need to say that he or she smelled alcohol, that your speech was slurred, and/or your eyes appeared to be bloodshot. If you can establish that a medical condition, medication, allergies, or mouthwash caused the alcohol smell, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes, you may be able to have any field sobriety, breathalyzer, or blood test results ruled inadmissible in Court.
5. Challenge the field sobriety tests. Probable cause for the administration of a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test or arrest is established when a suspect fails the field sobriety tests. However, the results of these tests can be prevented from being admitted as evidence in Court, if you can establish that the tests were not valid field sobriety tests or that the results were inaccurate. At the very least, you may be to prove to the judge or jury that the tests are not reliable, giving them reasonable doubt that you are guilty of DUI.
6. Challenge breathalyzer results. Breathalyzer equipment must be used and cared for properly. The devices must be calibrated and tested according to manufacturer instructions and standard procedures. Many departments may be using outdated equipment for which replacement parts are no longer made. These outdated machines can be both unstable and unreliable. In order to challenge the results of a breathalyzer, a defendant needs expert testimony regarding the unreliability of the specific breathalyzer model used, the officer to testify that he or she did not calibrate or test the machine according to procedure, and/or that he or she did not follow proper procedure in administering the test. If you can establish reasonable doubt that the breathalyzer result was accurate, the judge or jury may have to find you not guilty.
7. Challenge blood test results. Blood alcohol tests must be done following specific rules and procedures. If the hospital or a law enforcement officer fails to follow the proscribed procedure, the results may be found inadmissible in Court. In order to establish that the proper procedures were not followed, one would need an expert to testify that they could not have been followed or the officer or healthcare provider who administered the test would need to testify that he or she did not follow the procedure.
8. Hire a good DUI defense attorney. While an attorney can be expensive, in the case of a felony DUI, it may be best for your criminal and driving record, if you spend the money and hire someone experienced with DUI defense.
Florida Penalties for DUI First Conviction
- Fine – $250 to $500
- Community Service – 50 Hours
- Probation – Not more than 1 Year
- Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months
- Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
- License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
- DUI School – 12 Hours
Addtional DUI Convictions
The penalties listed above are for a first DUI conviction. With each additional DUI conviction the penalties in Florida are more severe.
For job seekers and also for those who have held their positions for some time, DUI convictions can lead to serious hardships in the workplace. Florida has tough DUI laws. If pleading no contest or guilty to DUI charges, or when found guilty after a trial, DUI defendants receive permanent blemishes on criminal records, even when no jail time is imposed. Unlike findings of guilt administered in many other types of criminal offenses, DUI convictions can never be sealed. That’s why it’s wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney about legal strategies which may lead to the avoidance of a DUI conviction.
Fearing expensive jury awards, insurance companies often advise business clients to verify that prospective and current employees have never been convicted of DUI. People with career goals are mistaken when not appreciating the seriousness of DUI arrests. When learning a job applicant has been convicted of DUI, an employer often excludes the candidate from further consideration.
Each state has different sentencing laws when it comes to a DUI conviction. An experienced and skilled DUI lawyer can fight your charges and advise you about your best options.
West Palm Beach DUI/DWI Attorney
It is not illegal to drink and drive in Florida, so long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not over .08 or your normal faculties are not impaired. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we advise our clients to neither blow into a breathalyzer machine nor do a roadside test. Why give evidence to the state if you don’t have to?
If you have submitted to a breathalyzer test and failed, that is not the end of your case. The Intoxilzer 5,000 and Intoxilzer 8,000 breathalyzer machines used to measure BAC in Florida have significant problems. If you have an expert witness and an experienced attorney who can challenge the accuracy of the machine in court, the BAC evidence may be thrown out. DUI/DWI Lawyer Andrew Stine has obtained not-guilty verdicts due to machine failure for clients who have had blood alcohol levels of .229 and .227.
The most important thing in DUI/DWI cases is early intervention by your attorney. This preliminary involvement will help you avoid the consequences of a conviction, which are very serious in Florida. We will also represent you at your hearing before the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in order to protect your right to drive.
In addition to DUI/DWI charges, we represent clients in DUI accident cases, including:
- Leaving the scene of accident with severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI homicide
- DUI/DWI manslaughter
There are defenses in DUI accident cases, which an experienced and capable lawyer can use. Even if you made a statement to police during your arrest, our lawyers can usually get that evidence thrown out of court. Any statement you give officers cannot be used against you due to the Florida accident report privilege.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.