DUI Defense

Someone is arrested for Driving Under The Influence (DUI) nearly every day in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties.  DUI is different than most other crimes because the alleged drunk driver typically did not intend to break the law. Anyone, from any walk of life, can be wrongfully accused of this crime.  Over the last 25 years, Florida has enacted increasingly more serious penalties for DUI, and the local police, prosecutors and judges enforce those laws to the fullest. 

 

The consequences of a DUI conviction are serious, as shown under Potential DUI Penalties.  Not only could your sentence include jail, probation, suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and expensive fines, but there are other collateral consequences as well, such as increased insurance premiums, loss of your job and livelihood, public humiliation and a permanent stain upon your record and reputation.  Even if you believe that you are guilty, it is not in your best interest to throw yourself at the mercy of the court at your first court appearance without consulting with an experienced DUI Attorney.  With so much at stake, it is imperative that you hire a DUI Defense Attorney to tirelessly defend your rights and obtain the best possible result in your case.  You need a local attorney who has handled hundreds of DUI cases before every criminal judge sitting on the bench in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties. Christopher Jacobs is such an attorney, and he handles all of the firm's DUI cases.

 

DUI Defense Approach

When you hire Mr. Jacobs as your attorney, he prepares your case as if it will ultimately be tried in front of a jury. He thoroughly investigates the case utilizing on-call investigators and visits the scene of your arrest personally.  This is done to get a feel for the conditions under which you were subjected to roadside sobriety tests.  He demands the evidence that the State plans to use against you, such as police reports, breath machine maintenance records, videos from the roadside and jail and witness statements.  He then conducts a vigorous examination of the police officers at the DMV Hearing, assuming that you have not waived your right to one. 

 

Researching every unique detail of your case enables Mr. Jacobs to investigate every possible defense to your charge, including the filing of motions to dismiss or motions to suppress (throw out) evidence.  If needed, expert witnesses are on call and could aid in your defense.  Preparing your case so thoroughly enables Mr. Jacobs to level the negotiating playing field with the Prosecutor, and could result in a dismissal of the case or a reduction in the charges.  The goal is to resolve your case without the need for a trial, and many cases get resolved in this way.  Through his extensive preparation of your case, he will be able to give you an honest assessment of the pros and cons of your case and your chances at trial, enabling you to make an informed decision when the time comes.  Should you decide to take your case before a jury of your peers, you can be confident that your attorney knows every detail of your case and has the trial experience to effectively defend you at trial.

 

Florida's DUI Statute: What The State is Required To Prove

Florida Statutes Section 316.193 details Florida’s DUI law. As with any crime, if you have been arrested for DUI, the State is required to prove your guilt beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.  In order to prove the criminal charge of Driving Under The Influence, the State must prove two basic elements:

 

         1.  The accused was “driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state;”


 

         2.  The accused was under the influence of alcohol or drugs “when affected to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired,” OR has a “blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood,” OR has a “breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.”


 

Let’s take a look at the first element, “driving or in actual physical control.”  Everyone knows what “driving” means, but the concept of “actual physical control” is a more nebulous concept.  According to Florida’s Standard Jury Instructions In Criminal Cases, “actual physical control of a vehicle” means that the accused “must be physically in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether [he or she] is actually operating the vehicle at the time.”  Even if someone has had a few drinks and believes that they are doing the right thing by not driving, they can still legally be arrested for DUI if, for example, they are sleeping in the car and the keys are on their person or nearby.

 

Just as everyone knows what “driving” is, most people also know that “0.08 is the limit.”  While it is true that it is unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control while your breath or blood contains 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 mL of blood, or 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, it is also unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol while your “normal faculties” are impaired.  According to the Standard Jury Instructions In Criminal Cases, “normal faculties” include, but are not limited to “the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.”

 

In the typical DUI case, the officer will have had the accused perform a series of roadside sobriety tests to determine if the accused’s normal faculties are impaired.  Though the officer most likely does not know the accused’s normal physical or mental abilities, he will form an opinion as to whether the driver’s normal faculties are impaired, and that opinion, combined with the officer’s other observations, often results in an arrest.  Because the law contemplates situations where someone accused of DUI will refuse to give a breath, urine, or blood sample, this provision enables the Government to prosecute alleged DUI offenders if they refuse to give such a sample.  It also gives the prosecutor a back-up plan if the accused was “under the limit” or had not consumed alcohol at all, as is the case when one is accused of Driving Under The Influence of Drugs.

 

Although this is the current state of the law, it does not mean that your case is hopeless.  I have successfully obtained dismissals and reductions to lesser charges in many DUI cases.

 

Florida's DUI Statute: Potential Penalties for a Florida DUI Conviction

Florida has some of the most thorough DUI laws in the United States, and some of the harshest penalties. Florida Statutes Section 316.193 details the penalties for violating the law. It is important to note that if you are convicted of DUI, the judge must impose these penalties. Contact Attorney Jacobs now for a FREE, NO OBLIGATION consultation.  Some or all of these penalties may be avoided with the help of an experienced DUI Attorney like Christopher J. Jacobs.

 

First Conviction:

  • Fine: $500.00-$1,000.00 (.15% or higher: $1,000.00-$2,000.00)

  • License suspension: 6 months-1 year

  • Probation: 6 months-1 year

  • Jail: 0 to 6 months (.15% or higher: 0 to 9 months)

  • Vehicle Impoundment: at least 10 days

  • Ignition device: (.15% or higher: at least 6 months)

 

Second Conviction Within 5 Years Of Any Prior Conviction:

  • Fine: $1,000.00-$2,000.00 (.15% or higher: $2,000.00-$4,000.00)

  • License suspension: 5 years

  • Probation: 1 year

  • Jail: 10 days to 9 months (.15% or higher: 10 days to 1 year)

  • Impoundment: at least 30 days impoundment

  • Ignition device: at least 1 year (.15% or higher: at least 2 years)

 

Second Conviction (More Than 5 years Since Last Conviction):

  • Fine: $500.00 - $1,000.00 (.15% or higher: $2,000.00-$4,000.00)

  • License Suspension: 6 months-1 year

  • Probation: 1 year

  • Jail: 0 to 9 months (.15% or higher: 0 to 12 months)

  • Ignition device: at least 1 year (.15% or higher: at least 2 years)

 

Third Conviction Within 10 years Of Any Prior Conviction (Felony):

  • Fine: Up to $5,000.00 (.15% or higher: at least $4,000.00)

  • License Suspension: 1 year

  • Probation: 0 to 5 years

  • Jail or Prison: 30 days County Jail - 5 Years State Prison

  • Impoundment: 90 days impoundment

  • Ignition device: at least 2 years

 

Third Conviction (More Than 5 years Since Last Conviction):

  • Fine: $2,000.00 - $5,000.00 (.15% or higher: at least $4,000.00)

  • License Suspension: 6 months-1 year

  • Probation: 1 year

  • Jail: 0 to 1 year

  • Ignition device: at least 2 years

 

Fourth Conviction (Felony):

  • Fine: $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 (.15% or higher: at least $4,000.00)

  • License Suspension: Permanent

  • Probation: 0-5 years

  • Prison: 0 to 5 years

 

Second Refusal To Submit To Breath, Blood, or Urine Test:

  • Fine: Up to $1,000.00


  • Probation: Up to 1 year


  • Jail: Up to 1 year

 

 

Your License

 

If you have been arrested for DUI and submitted to the breath test with a result of 0.08 or higher or refused to submit to the breath test, the arresting official most likely seized your license and issued you DUI citation. By doing so, the officer has triggered what is known as the “Administrative Suspension.”  Even though you are presumed innocent of the DUI charge until proven guilty in a criminal court, the State of Florida, through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (or “DHSMV”) is required to suspend your license upon refusing a breath test or giving a sample above 0.08.  This suspension is separate from the suspension that could be imposed by the judge in your criminal case later on, if convicted of the DUI charge in court.

 

Length of Administrative Suspension

 

First DUI Arrest: If the results of the breath test in your case are 0.08 or more, your license is suspended for 180 days. If you refused to comply with the breath test, your license is suspended for 1 year.

 

Second or Subsequent DUI Arrest: If the results of the breath test in your case are 0.08 or more, your license is suspended for 1 year. If you refused to comply with the breath test, and have previously refused to comply with the breath test in a prior DUI, your license is suspended for 18 months.

 

Note: If you have previously refused to submit to a breath test, and refuse to take a breath test in a second DUI, you are also committing a first-degree misdemeanor. 

 

Driving On The DUI Citation

If your license or driving privilege was not suspended prior to your DUI arrest, you are able to legally drive with the DUI citation you were issued acting as your license.  Your citation reads, "unless ineligible, this citation shall serve as a temporary driver's license and will expire on midnight on the tenth day following the date of your arrest." You must have the DUI citation in your possession to drive legally during this period.  When this ten-day period expires, you may no longer drive legally in Florida or anywhere else, unless you take immediate action.

 

Florida’s Ten-Day Rule and The Importance of The Formal Hearing

You only have ten days to challenge the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by filing paperwork with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).  You may be able to save your license if you act immediately! 

 

Challenging the suspension by demanding a formal review of the allegations is, without a doubt, the most important step in protecting your right to drive and in defending the DUI charge itself, because:

You are entitled to a temporary driving permit, good for approximately 42 days;

You are entitled to examine all documents submitted by law enforcement and question all relevant witnesses, especially the arresting officer and the breath test operator;

The evidence may not support the continued suspension of your driver’s license, so you may be able to get your license back.

 

When someone hires Attorney Christopher Jacobs to represent them in their DUI case, the Formal Review hearing is included in the fee. He files the necessary paperwork to obtain a formal review of the charges, obtains your temporary driving permit and delivers it directly to you, if necessary. He then reviews the documents submitted by law enforcement prior to the hearing, in an attempt to spot issues that may affect your suspension or your criminal DUI charge. At the formal review, he vigorously questions the witnesses against you and argues for the invalidation of the suspension of your driver’s license.

 

Although the issues to be considered at the formal hearing are quite limited in scope, he has been able to invalidate the license suspensions of many of the firm's clients. Just as importantly, the recorded sworn testimony of the officers and other witnesses at the hearing may have a direct bearing on the disposition of your separate criminal charge of DUI, as it has with many of our prior clients.  Taking what he learns about the case from witness testimony at the formal hearing, he may be able to negotiate a better result for you than he otherwise might have been available, or the testimony from the hearing may “lock in” the statements of the witnesses so they could not later testify differently at trial.  Although you have a right to be present for the hearing, it is not necessary for you to be there if you have an experienced attorney like Christopher J. Jacobs working on your behalf.

Please do not let this valuable opportunity slip away by not acting within ten days of arrest.  

 

Conclusion

A DUI arrest can seriously affect your life. Please do not assume that your case is a lost cause without being informed of all of your options. We offer a free consultation, a personalized attorney-client relationship and an aggressive defense to these charges. Contact Attorney Christopher Jacobs now!

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© 2016 by Jacobs & Davis P.A.

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