If you’ve just been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Rockledge or Melbourne, Florida, you may be worried about your future. Will you lose your job—or your driver’s license? What will happen if you have a criminal conviction on your record? Will you spend time in jail, and how much will your defense cost?
Although DUI charges can be serious, they don’t need to be life-altering—and, in many cases, a lawyer experienced with Florida DUI laws may be able to have these charges reduced or even dismissed. But if you want to pursue these options, you’ll need to seek legal advice right away. There are important court deadlines associated with these criminal charges, and missing even one deadline could limit your options.
At the Law Office of James Kontos, we are committed to helping those who have been wrongfully charged with a DUI in Florida. In your initial consultation we will review the facts of your case, explore all of your defense options, and fully explain all possible penalties that you may face.
Although most people associate DUI arrests with driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI arrests can involve other types of intoxication as well. If you’re pulled over for suspicion of DUI and fail a field sobriety test (which can include walking in a straight line, touching the tip of your nose with your finger with your eyes closed, and reciting the alphabet in reverse order), you may be arrested and booked into jail. If a blood test reveals that you had cocaine, amphetamines, or opiates in your system at the time of your arrest, your DUI charges may stand.
But in most cases, those charged with DUI will face allegations that they were operating a motor vehicle (which can include a scooter, ATV, or any other street-legal vehicle) with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more. If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you may be subject to additional charges.
The severity of DUI charges can depend on whether you’re over 21, whether it’s your first, second, or subsequent offense, whether you’re considered a “habitual offender,” whether you had any passengers (including children) in the car at the time of your arrest, and whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your driving.
If you’ve been issued a DUI citation by the arresting officer, this citation acts as your driver’s license for the next 10 days. Unless you request a formal review hearing within this 10-day period, after the 10th day, your license will be administratively suspended. This means that even if you’re ultimately acquitted of the DUI charges or charges are dropped, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months or until the case has concluded.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to seek legal advice as quickly as you can. Having an experienced Florida DUI attorney to request an administrative review hearing on your behalf and defend you at this hearing can be the difference between keeping and losing your license.
Being arrested for DUI doesn’t mean a conviction is inevitable. Unless the prosecutor can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges won’t stand. This means that there are several possible ways your attorney can attack the evidence against you and provide the reasonable doubt necessary for acquittal.
Although the best defense for your case will depend on the specific facts presented, some of the most common (and successful) defenses include:
In other cases, you may be able to negotiate a plea deal that allows you to plead guilty to a reduced set of charges. This can ensure that a felony or high-level misdemeanor isn’t on your record, and may even allow you to keep your driver’s license after your conviction.
Not necessarily. If you have a previous DUI arrest in Florida and refused to blow at that time, the second refusal can be punishable by up to one year in a county jail (Florida § 316.1939). There are other reasons that a refusal to have a Breathalyzer test administered may land you with an additional charge, which is why it is so important to seek legal counsel immediately after a DUI arrest in Florida.
Absolutely! You can refuse to perform any test that the arresting officer asks of you. At that point, law enforcement must decide, based on the evidence at hand (if there is any), whether or not to arrest your for driving under the influence. If you are arrested, it would be up to a jury to decide if you were impaired while driving based on any other evidence.
No! We can fight the suspension within 10 days of your DUI arrest with a request for a formal review. On the other hand, if you do submit to a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test, and fail, your license will also likely be suspended (after a review process), possibly for six months.
There a few types of Florida DUI charges that constitute a felony charge, such as:
These are all very serious felony charges. If any of these circumstances apply to your DUI arrest, contact us immediately!
You can be charged with a Florida Aggravated DUI if there are extenuating circumstances such as an extremely high BAC, having a minor child in the car, or driving while impaired without a valid driver’s license.
A conviction of Driving Under the Influence in Florida can have serious consequences, and affect the rest of your life. Don’t put your license, employment, family and freedom at risk! Call the Law Office of James Kontos for a confidential consultation today! James Kontos will personally review your case and discuss your options with you.