Drunk driving is one of the most common charges people in the Florida Panhandle may face. In too many of these cases, the accused believes he or she has no choice but to take whatever plea is offered to them. They recall having a drink — or many drinks — before getting behind the wheel, and accept the severe consequences that result.
Drunk driving is a criminal accusation. That means the government must prove its accusations beyond all reasonable doubt. This is a tough burden. Having a defense team early in the case can point out the flaws and the holes in the prosecution's case.
Warning: You only have 10 days to protect your driving privilege.
DUI Defense Lawyer in Fort Walton Beach
You don't have to accept the plea offered to you. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is vital that you take control of your future by hiring an experienced Fort Walton DUI defense lawyer. As an experienced defense lawyer, I have the knowledge and reputation necessary to help you receive the best possible outcome for your case.
I provide quality legal representation for clients in Crestview, Shalimar, Valparaiso, Niceville, Navarre, Mary Esther, Milton, Gulf Breeze, and Fort Walton Beach. If you are in need of a DUI defense team with a track record of success, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today at 850.243.6097 for free.
Information on DUI Laws in Florida
- DUI under Florida Law
- Can I Be Charged With DUI If I Wasn’t Driving?
- Fla. Stat. § 316.1932 Defines Implied Consent
- Administrative License Suspension in Florida
- Penalties for Multiple Drunk Driving Convictions
Driving under the influence is defined under section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes as being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, or where your breath alcohol content is .08 or higher (.04 or higher for a commercial driver, and .02 if the driver is under 21).
Police may determine your Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) or whether you are intoxicated using a breath test (often called a "breathalyzer"), a blood test a urine test. Field sobriety test, are tests generally performed roadside in which you are asked to complete various tasks and your body movement is scrutinized.
It is your right to refuse these tests, unless police obtain a warrant. Refusing the tests denies critical evidence to the prosecution. However, refusing has consequences, discussed below.
You are also prohibited from operating a boat or watercraft while intoxicated. You could face similar penalties if convicted of BUI.
In order to be charged with drunk driving in Florida, the prosecution must be able to prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under Florida law, you do not actually have to be driving for it to be determined that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle.
Several factors are used to determine actual physical control, including:
- If the keys were in the ignition
- If the defendant was in or on the vehicle
- Where the defendant was sitting in the vehicle
- Whether or not the vehicle had been recently driven
- If the is car was operable
In Florida, when you accept the privilege of operating a vehicle, you are deemed to have given your implied consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining whether or not you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you are pulled over and a law enforcement officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence, he or she may request that you submit to blood, breath, or urine testing.
You have the right to refuse testing, under the Fourth Amendment. However, doing so will result in an automatic administrative license suspension. You can also have your license suspended if you submit to a DUI test and the results show a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
In some cases, if you refuse to take a DUI test or you blow over the legal limit, an officer will confiscate your driver’s license at the scene. If your driver’s license is confiscated or suspended, you have 10 days from the date it was taken or suspended to file a request for an administrative license suspension review hearing.
At the hearing, a DHSMV hearing officer will determine whether or not your license suspension should be upheld. During this time, you and your criminal defense lawyer can point out mistakes made by the arresting officer that could lead to having your license reinstated.
Like most criminal offenses, the penalties increase for each subsequent conviction of a DUI related offense. For a first offense, individuals will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to nine months behind bars, and/or fines between $500 and $1,000.
If an individual is convicted of a second DUI, he or she can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, and be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and/or a between $1,000 and $4,000.
A third DUI conviction will result in a felony charge, which can lead to up to a year in prison, and/or between a $2,000 and $5,000 fine.
Aside from the penalties mentioned above, additional penalties for a DUI conviction can include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Community service
- DUI School
- Vehicle Impoundment
- Drug and alcohol education courses
In some cases, a judge may order the installation of an ignition interlock device in the defendant’s vehicle. The device is wired to the ignition of the vehicle and requires the driver to submit to a breath test before the car is started and at certain intervals while driving. If at any time the driver’s BAC is above the preset limit, the vehicle will not start, or it will shut off.
Working with the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Fort Walton Beach
If you are seeking to protect your future and your driving privileges, contact a qualified DUI defense attorney in Fort Walton Beach right away. I will leverage my knowledge and resources, and do everything within my power to help you receive the best result possible.
Our goal from day one will be simple: winning your DUI case. Every move we make will be with that goal in mind. When yopu’re ready to put our expertise to work for you, call us today at 850.243.6097 for a free consultation.