Lake City DUI Defense Attorneys
In 2017, law enforcement officials arrested more than 100 drivers for driving under the influence (DUI) in Lake City and throughout Columbia County. A court found more than 80 of those drivers guilty, resulting in heavy consequences for each one of them. Regardless of whether it is your first DUI, or you have been in this situation before, you are facing life-changing penalties if you are convicted.
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Under Florida law, a DUI is a criminal offense. In addition to the stress and expense of a criminal trial, a conviction might cause you to lose your job, have to pay expensive fines, and possibly serve time in jail. A seasoned DUI criminal defense attorney can advocate for your rights and fight to get the best outcome for your charges.
Whether you were arrested in Columbia County and are still in jail, were released, or you are seeking a DUI attorney for a friend or family member, call the experienced Lake City DUI defense attorney at Meldon Law that serve Lake City at 800-373-8000 to discuss your case and determine the best path forward for your situation.
Meldon Law’s Results Defending Criminal DUI Charges
The criminal defense attorneys at Meldon Law have years of experience defending clients who have been charged with DUIs. Their committed legal team has helped clients get charges dropped, get charges reduced to a lesser offense like reckless driving, and get fines and jail time reduced in more than 100 cases in Florida courts. Whether this is your first DUI or you are a repeat offender, you are guaranteed certain rights as you go through the legal process. The legal team at Meldon Law advocates for their clients’ rights and diligently pursues the best possible outcome for their cases.
How Does Florida Define Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
Florida law clearly defines what constitutes a DUI in their statutes. Under Florida law, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if:
- They are driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and
- They are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the extent their normal faculties are impaired or
- They have a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath or
- They have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more per 100 milliliters of blood.
What Penalties Are Associated With DUI Convictions?
Penalties for DUIs and DUI-related offenses vary widely. If a driver causes property damage or injury to another person, the penalties are even steeper. In fact, DUI manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Those with multiple offenses will find that each offense carries a larger fine and more time in jail. An attorney will give you the specifics for your situation, but here is a broad overview of penalties for DUI convictions in Florida:
- Fines. A person’s first DUI conviction will result in a minimum $500 fine, but not more than $1,000, and a second conviction has a minimum $1,000 fine. Repeat offenders charged with a third offense DUI can expect a minimum fine of $2,000.00 with a max of $5,000.00, while a fourth offense has a minimum fine of $2,000.00 with no maximum fine. Fines levels increase if the DUI is considered enhanced. An enhancement could be based on breath or blood alcohol level that is above a 0.15 or if is a minor is in the vehicle during the time of the offense. In this these case, for a first conviction, the minimum fine is $1,000.00 with a max of $2,000.00. A second conviction is punishable by a minimum of a $2,000.00 fine with a maximum of $4,000.00, while a third and fourth offense would have a minimum fine of $4,000.00 with no maximum.
- Jail time. First time DUI convictions in Florida do not require mandatory jail time—however, depending on the circumstances a judge could impose a jail sentence. For a first offense DUI, the maximum amount of jail time is six months, while if the DUI is enhanced the maximum is nine months in jail. Subsequent convictions do not have mandatory jail time unless the conviction occurs within a certain period of years. If a second conviction occurs within five years of the prior offense, there is a mandatory 10 days in jail with a maximum of nine months, while a third conviction that occurs within a 10-year period, the minimum amount of jail is 30 days with a maximum of five years in prison.
- Vehicle immobilization and Ignition Interlock Devices (IID). Under Florida law, those convicted of a DUI might lose access to their vehicle or have to breathe into a special device to use their vehicle. First time DUI convictions require 10 days of vehicle immobilization; second and third convictions may come with a 10, 30, or 90 day period of immobilization. After a second DUI conviction that involves alcohol, offenders must have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicle under Florida law. The law requires increased time periods with an IID as a person gets more DUI convictions. If a person has an enhanced breath or blood alcohol level or second DUI convictions, offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. For a first DUI conviction that is enhanced, the minimum time period is six months, while a second and third offense has a minimum of two years and a fourth offense is five years.
- License suspension. After a driver’s first DUI conviction, the state suspends their license for six months. A second DUI within five years will result in a five-year revocation and a third DUI within ten years of the second will result in a ten-year revocation. Four DUI convictions result in permanent revocation of an offender’s driver’s’ license.
What to Do if Pulled Over in Lake City
Being pulled over by the police is always a very scary experience, even if you have not had anything to drink or have not violated any other laws. Unfortunately, many people become nervous, which is natural but can also work against you as you deal with law enforcement. Many people do not know what to do if pulled over in Lake City, and that causes them to become more nervous and make even more mistakes. Those mistakes can work against you if you are charged and so, it is crucial to understand the most important steps to take. Our criminal defense lawyer in Lake City has outlined these steps below.
Pull Over Slowly
Any time a police officer tries to pull you over, you must comply. Failing to do so is a violation of the law and will likely only result in charges being filed against you, even if you are innocent of any other violation of the law. Pull over as soon as you can, but do not put yourself or others in danger. If you cannot pull over right away, turn on your signal to alert the officer that you intend to pull over. After you have made it safely to the shoulder, turn off your vehicle, roll your window down, and place both hands on the wheel. These actions will tell the officer that you want to cooperate once they approach you.
Provide Appropriate Documentation
Law enforcement will likely ask you for certain information any time they pull you over. This includes your registration, proof of insurance, and your driver’s license. All drivers in Lake City are required to carry this information on them when they are driving and so, you should provide it. If it is not readily available and you need to reach into other areas of the vehicle, such as the glove compartment, tell the officer before you make any movements. Once the officer has the information, place your hands back on the wheel.
Know the Questions to Answer
The officer will ask you several questions and the ones you answer, and choose not to, is important. You should provide the officer with basic information, such as your name and address if they ask. However, you should not provide any information that would incriminate you.
For example, you should never tell an officer how much you have had to drink. If a police officer asks you this after pulling you over, simply ask if you are under arrest. Do not become belligerent or rude and always remain polite. You do not have an obligation to answer their questions though, and you are entitled to tell them that.
Why You Need a DUI Criminal Defense Attorney
A DUI conviction creates hardships for offenders and their families. The expense of fines and other court-ordered services might cause financial hardship, especially if it results in job loss. Additionally, offenders often struggle with family relationships after a conviction and suffer damage to their reputation. Hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney cannot undo the arrest, but with an attorney’s help the prosecutor might drop or reduce charges and/or penalties. After investigating the circumstances of your arrest, your attorney might discover poor handling of lab evidence, police misconduct, or other violations of your rights. Hiring a DUI attorney might help you avoid job loss and much more.
Contact a Seasoned Lake City DUI Defense Attorney
If you were arrested for a DUI in Lake City, let a skilled DUI defense attorney advocate for your rights and minimize your penalties. Contact Meldon Law‘s experienced DUI defense attorneys at 800-373-8000 for a confidential free consultation to discuss your charges and the next steps for your case.