A conviction for driving under the influence in Florida can have life-changing consequences – especially if this is not your first offense. Depending on your past DUI record, you could face third-degree felony charges, which come with a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison even if there are no injuries or death.
Although these penalties apply to defendants who have been convicted of three offenses in a ten year period or four or more DUI violations, a first-offense DUI is still a serious charge. According to Section 316.193 of the 2016 Florida Statutes, in addition to administrative penalties, a first DUI conviction may come with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months to a year behind bars, amongst many other required and expensive penalties. Insurance costs can increase 300 to 500 percent for three to five years!
Fortunately, there are several possible defenses against DUI charges, and with the right approach, it may be possible to win your case, reduce your charges or the penalties, or to get your case dismissed altogether. Michael D. Leader of Leader & Leader P.A. will evaluate your case and explain your defense options. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a free consultation with a DUI defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale.
Read on to learn about four possible defenses against DUI charges in Florida:
- Unlawful Stop
An officer cannot stop your vehicle unless he or she has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or you are in the process of committing a crime or probable cause that a traffic infraction occurred. If the officer did not have a lawful right to stop your vehicle, then any evidence collected after the stop may be inadmissible in court. This can include the results of breathalyzer tests and field sobriety exercises.
- Testing Errors
Florida is an implied consent state, which means that all drivers automatically consent to taking a chemical test. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, then your license will be subject to suspension although there may be ways to avoid the suspension as well. This should not be dispositive of your decision to give a breath, blood or urine sample as that is a particular decision that may be right for you but not someone else. We generally do not suggest giving a purely voluntary sample and make law enforcement invoke “implied consent” even if you intend to give a sample.
However, these tests are not always accurate. Your breathalyzer results might not be admissible in court if your DUI defense attorney can present evidence to prove:
- The officer did not calibrate or administer the test correctly;
- Administrative guidelines or applicable statutes were not properly complied with;
- The device was defective; or
- Extenuating factors could have inflated the results.
- Other possible grounds that may be unique to your case.
- Rights Violation
If the officer did not read your Miranda Rights before questioning you in certain situations, then your statements may not be admissible in court.
This defense is rarely effective, but if you had no choice but to drive under the influence, then arguing necessity may apply to your case. For example, if a child was injured and there was nobody to take him or her to the hospital, and you did not have the means to contact emergency services, and you were charged with DUI while en route to the hospital, then your case might successfully defensible.
Michael D. Leader is a criminal lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who will evaluate your arrest, gather evidence and structure a comprehensive defense based on the unique facts of your case. Call 954-523-2020 today to start planning your defense.