Protecting the Rights of Individuals Accused of Drunk Driving in South Florida
Tens of thousands of people are arrested each year in Florida on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). As the most second-most populous county in the Sunshine State, Broward County is the location of many of these arrests, including Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale is home to nearly 200,000 people and is a popular tourist destination. Its gorgeous beaches and close proximity to Miami draw thousands of visitors on a regular basis. Both residents and tourists enjoy relaxing on the water or experiencing the many restaurants and bars the area has to offer. Unfortunately, this can result in people deciding to drive home after having too much to drink.
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors in and around Fort Lauderdale take drunk driving very seriously. Anyone suspected of drunk driving will likely be immediately arrested and charged with a serious criminal offense. If you’ve been accused of DUI in South Florida, you should not wait to contact a highly skilled Fort Lauderdale DUI defense law firm. Timing is extremely important in these cases, so please call Meldon Law to discuss how we can protect your rights today.
Florida DUI Laws
Unlike some states, Florida law does not treat driving under the influence of alcohol as a traffic offense but instead, the law makes DUI a criminal offense with potentially serious consequences. To convict you of DUI, the prosecutor must prove that you were in physical control of a vehicle while:
- Your faculties were impaired by alcohol, or
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 percent or higher
The legal limit for underage drivers is 0.02 percent and the limit for drivers of commercial vehicles is 0.04 percent.
Even if a chemical test shows that you are under the legal limit, an officer can still arrest you if they claim they have probable cause to believe you were impaired. Prosecutors can present evidence including an officer’s observations of intoxication or your performance on field sobriety tests to prove such impairment without a BAC reading over 0.08. For this reason, even if a test showed you were under the legal limit, you could still be convicted and should always take your case very seriously.
At Meldon Law, we can assist in DUI cases whether or not they involve breath or blood test results over 0.08. We will build an individual defense strategy based on the evidence against you and the circumstances of your case. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin protecting your rights.
Possible Penalties for a DUI
There are many possible penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida, both imposed by the criminal court and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The court can issue a sentence for probation, fines, or even jail time, as well as other requirements such as drunk driving education classes or community service. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can revoke your driver’s license for a certain period of time and can require that you have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for reinstatement under certain circumstances.
The specific penalties you face will depend on whether you are accused of causing bodily injury while drunk driving and whether you have prior DUI convictions within a certain period of time. The following are possible penalties for a first DUI conviction in Broward County:
- Misdemeanor conviction on your permanent record
- Fines between $500 and $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
- Driver’s license suspension from 180 days to one year
If you refused to submit a breath sample when requested by a police officer, you can have your license suspended for one year under Florida’s implied consent laws. Losing your license and having a criminal record can affect many aspects of your life, including your job, educational opportunities, and even where you live.
DUI- related charges are not always misdemeanors, as the following will likely be charged as felony offenses with significantly escalated penalties:
- Third DUI within a ten-year lookback period (third-degree felony)
- Fourth or subsequent DUI within any timeframe (third-degree felony)
- Your DUI involved an accident that caused serious bodily injury (third-degree felony)
- You DUI involved a fatal accident, which constitutes DUI manslaughter (either a second-degree or first-degree felony)
Such felony convictions can result in years of imprisonment. No matter what type of DUI charges you are facing, you need qualified legal representation to limit the consequences that you face.
Defending against Drunk Driving Charges
Just because you’ve been charged with DUI does not mean that a conviction and harsh penalties are inevitable. Our experienced legal team has many ways to defend against DUI charges to have your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Only some examples of the many defense strategies in Florida DUI cases include:
- Challenging the legality of your traffic stop or arrest
- Challenging the accuracy of chemical tests
- Identifying when there were problems with field sobriety testing
- Challenging the testimony of the arresting officer
- Providing another explanation why you may have seemed impaired, such as fatigue or illness
In addition, our lawyers know how to negotiate with Fort Lauderdale prosecutors to reach a plea bargain. This can result in a lesser charge, known as a “wet reckless,” or lesser penalties for a guilty plea. We explore every possible option to obtain the most favorable result we can for each and every client facing DUI allegations.
Find Out How a Fort Lauderdale County Drunk Driving Attorney can Help You
At Meldon Law, we have represented many people in the South Florida area in DUI cases. While a DUI arrest may disrupt an enjoyable evening in Fort Lauderdale, we work to minimize the long-term effects that a DUI case may have on your life. We are thoroughly familiar with the criminal justice system in Florida and we are here to assist you with both the criminal and administrative aspects of your case. Contact us online or call (954)-334-1276 to discuss your situation for free today.