A first-offense DUI conviction can create a permanent criminal record that results in financial, emotional, and professional consequences that last a lifetime. With so much at stake, it is important to mount a legal defense that will obtain the best possible outcome on your behalf. Do not allow one poor choice to define your future.
Having a Criminal Record Can:
- Limit child custody rights
- Prevent a foreign national from obtaining a green card, or becoming a naturalized citizen
- Make it more difficult to find employment
A single mistake can find a first time DUI offender having to defend their character to professional licensing boards, friends, family, and colleagues.
You have a lot to lose. Collectively, the legal team at Meldon Law has over 60 years of experience representing people in the Miami Dade/South Florida area. Protect yourself from the distressing consequences of a criminal conviction. We have unique backgrounds and experience that can help you defend against a DUI conviction.
Jeffrey Meldon, the founder of the Meldon Law Firm, has 12 years experience conducting DUI seminars for the Florida Bar Association, 10 years serving on the committee that that writes the rules of DUI trials, and is recognized statewide for creating an exceptional DUI defense team. (Read more)
The Penalties Are Severe
The legal statutes are rigid and the consequences are harsh. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI in South Florida, a judge is required to impose:
- Jail time (up to six months)
- Up to twelve months of probation
- Minimum six-month, maximum twelve-month license revocation
- A fine of $500-$1,000
- Ten-day impoundment of the vehicle used in the DUI
- 50 hours of community service
- A 12-hour DUI substance abuse course
- A professional evaluation to determine if substance abuse treatment is required
Defenses to First DUI Offense
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in South Florida, exercise your right to legal representation. At Meldon Law, we review all the evidence, read all the reports, and investigate every aspect of your case to identify and expose any misconduct, procedural errors or violations of your rights. There are many legal defenses possible in a DUI case, and your best defense is a passionate and aggressive attorney. At Meldon Law, we stand with you throughout every step of the legal process.
Carey Meldon – Partner at Meldon Law
Prior to joining his father in 2009, Carey Meldon was an Assistant State Attorney, handling thousands of criminal cases ranging from misdemeanor DUIs to capital felonies. “The main focus of my current practice is defending drivers who have been accused of DUI.”
Examples of evidentiary defenses in a first DUI offense include:
- Illegal traffic stop
- Not being in control of the vehicle
- Insufficient Probable Cause
- Improper field sobriety testing
No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop
The law is clear, a law enforcement officer may only stop a vehicle for:
- Exhibiting behavior that indicates impaired driving
- Traffic violations witnessed by law enforcement. Traffic infractions such as speeding, or running a red light or stop sign, is probable cause for a traffic stop under Florida criminal law.
- Not wearing a seat belt. Florida has what we call a “primary safety belt law,” which means that you can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seatbelt, or having someone in your car who is not wearing a seatbelt.
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Exclusionary Rule requires that evidence obtained from an unreasonable (and therefore illegal) search and seizure should be excluded at trial.
- Did something make you stand out from the rest of the cars on the road?
- Were your headlights and tail lights in good working order?
- Did you fail to come to a complete stop when mandated?
- Did you make a turn without signaling?
If your answer is no, police may have lacked a valid legal reason to pull you over.
No Actual Physical Control
In order to be convicted of DUI charges, the state must prove a person was in control of the vehicle. Like a great many things in law, there is no definitive answer to the definition of “control”. It is possible that a driver, realizing his or her limitations, pulls off the road to sleep it off. Some things that may be taken into consideration are:
- Where the car was found
- Where in the vehicle the defendant was found
- If the car key was in the ignition
- Whether the engine was running or not
- If the headlights were on
- If the driver was asleep
Improper Field Sobriety Tests
In the event that field sobriety tests were administered, it should be noted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends these tests should not be given if the suspect:
- Is overweight by 50 pounds or more
- Is over 65
- Has substantiated back, hip, leg, knee, or ankle problems
- Has any disability affecting his or her balance
- Is wearing shoes with heels two inches or higher
In addition, it is possible that the officer conducting the tests was not specifically trained or qualified to do so, or that the test itself has been deemed unreliable.
Inaccuracies in the Blood or Breath Testing Device
Countless complex factors can skew blood alcohol test results, and accuracy depends on persistent quality control, as well as monthly and quarterly maintenance. A driver’s BAC reading can be prohibited from use in court for any number of reasons including:
- The inaccuracy of the software used
- The incompetence of the tester
- The possibility that the blood draw needle was contaminated with alcohol
- Presence of residual mouth alcohol that may inflate results in a breath test
- A driver’s diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
At Meldon Law, your legal needs are our priority. We leverage our collective experience to minimize any potential damaging evidence, and we waste no time getting our legal team involved in your case should we agree to represent you. Hiring a legal defense team early can make a significant difference in your future.
Ian Pickens – Associate Attorney at Meldon Law
Ian joined the firm in 2017, following a three-year stint as an Assistant State Attorney dealing with criminal cases ranging from misdemeanor DUIs to 1st-degree felonies. “My love of the courtroom and desire to help people, whether they have been injured or arrested, is what made me want to be a trial attorney. The main focus of my current practice is defending drivers who have been accused of DUI and other Criminal Offenses”
Additional Defenses Against a DUI Charge
Other potential defenses against the legality of a DUI charge include:
Under no circumstances can race, religion, national origin, or gender identification be the reason for stopping you. Although law enforcement will more than likely never say this is the main reason why you were pulled over, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to show a disparity in the race of all persons who have been stopped, It may be possible to recover communication documentation between law enforcement officials that show racial bias in targeting specific groups of people.
Stopped out of Turn
Although some states have found sobriety checkpoints unconstitutional and in conflict with the 4th amendment, Florida is not one of them. In our state, they are legal. As mandated by the United States Supreme Court, vehicles cannot be stopped randomly but must follow a predetermined formula. Whether the plan is to stop every vehicle or every other vehicle, if your car was stopped out of turn it may be challenged as unlawful.
Merely Leaving a Bar
Simply being observed leaving a bar is not legal grounds for being stopped by police.
Late Night Driving
If you were stopped just because you were driving late at night, especially if it is right after the bars close, it is possible that law enforcement officials were on a mission hoping to find intoxicated drivers. There is no law that says a person can not drive around bars at closing time.
Denial of Right to Counsel
Once you ask to speak with a lawyer, police must honor this request as soon as possible. If your request is ignored, or not responded to in a timely manner, it may be possible to have any charges against you dismissed.
Mitigating factors could temper a judge’s sentence:
- Having a previously spotless driving record
- Just barely being over 0.08
- Voluntarily completing a substance/alcohol abuse course prior to trial
- Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, not illegally acquired drugs
Help Is Available 24 Hours / 7 Days a Week
When facing first time DUI charges in the South Florida/Miami Dade area, contact Meldon Law online or call at (954) 334-1276 to learn more about how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your current situation.