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Ocala DUI Defense Lawyer

Ocala DUI Defense LawyerBeing under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) is frightening. Once you are under arrest for this offense, this action immediately affects your rights. Authorities will suspend your driver’s license for 10 days requiring quick action on your part to protect your rights and future. However, an arrest isn’t the same as being charged with or convicted of a crime. Our Ocala DUI defense lawyers are ready to protect your freedom and future.

Contact us today at (352) 373-8000 for a free no-obligation case evaluation. Our criminal defense attorneys will take on your fight like it is ours, and we won’t back down.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Ocala, FL

The moment you are under arrest, you should focus your energies and efforts on avoiding a DUI conviction, as a permanent record could devastate your life for a long time. We encourage you to work with our Ocala criminal defense attorneys, who draw from a deep well of experience in DUI defense. The penalties you could face if found guilty are substantial and could expand if:

  • You were previously convicted of DUI.
  • There was a minor in your vehicle while you drove under the influence.
  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was more than 0.15%.
  • Property was damaged or someone suffered an injury or died because of your DUI.

Potential Penalties

The range of penalties is wide, depending on whether the factors outlined above apply to your case. They may include:

  • Impoundment of your car for days or months
  • A fine of $500 to $10,000
  • License suspension for days, months, or possibly forever
  • Jail or prison time for days, months, or up to 30 years
  • If this is your second offense within five years, you must serve a minimum of 10 days in jail.
  • Breath testing equipment attached to your car for a year or more
  • Probation for a year or more
  • Community service
  • DUI and substance abuse classes along with treatment (if indicated)

A DUI is a criminal offense; a conviction will remain on your record permanently. This could affect your future educational, professional, and military opportunities and potentially where you live.

Additionally, an insurance company will view you as a “high-risk” driver and might raise your rates substantially for several years.

How Our Ocala DUI Defense Attorney Can Help You

If a Florida law enforcement officer thinks alcohol or controlled substances impair your “normal faculties,” you may face arrest on a DUI charge even if you are not at or above the legal limit of 0.08. If charged, a proper defense takes an exact understanding of Florida’s complicated DUI laws.

At Meldon Law, our Ocala DUI defense attorneys use the accumulated wisdom they have earned by serving Floridians for over half a century to fight for reduced or dropped charges in your case.

Our defense team could assist you by:

  • Examining your traffic stop and arrest for possible violations of your constitutional rights.
  • Determining if the field sobriety test, blood alcohol level (BAL) test, and/or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test were administered and interpreted correctly by those involved in the process.
  • Challenging the arresting police officer’s observations or recollections.
  • Exploring other explanations for exhibited symptoms (such as illness or fatigue).
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor to drop or reduce your charges.
  • Representing you at trial to fight the charges.
  • Arguing for a reduced sentence should you face conviction on some charges.

Meldon Team

We are here for you 24/7

(Consultations are Free)

Call Us Now

Meldon Law Serves Ocala

Meldon Law started in Ocala, defending the rights of Florida residents there and in other towns throughout the state in 1971. A strong defense comes from the experience and resources we have built up over decades of service.

The following demonstrates our DUI defense team’s strength in helping people facing this serious offense:

  • Other attorneys in Florida refer their clients who need DUI representation to our office.
  • Our participation in a network of Florida DUI defense attorneys who consistently work to improve defense tactics and strategies.
  • Our advisory role to other DUI defense attorneys throughout the state.
  • Our attorneys defend DUI cases in court and formal DMV review hearings.
  • Our publication of the Marion County DUI Guidebook titled Ways to Possibly Avoid a DUI Charge or Conviction. (Please request a free copy to learn more about the DUI process, charges, and defenses.)
  • Our promise to take on your fight like it is ours. Our Ocala DUI criminal defense team is a force to be reckoned with, inside and outside the courtroom.

DUI Case Results

We are proud of our cases going back more than half a century, but examples of our more recent results include the following:

  • In a single-vehicle crash, troopers arrested the driver after the driver refused to perform a field sobriety test. The driver also refused to perform a breath test after arrest and instead called Meldon Law. We found a suppression issue and negotiated the charges from DUI to reckless driving.
  • At a crash site, the police gave a driver a field sobriety test, which he failed. After arrest, they gave him two separate breath tests with results of .400 and .387. Despite the test results, Meldon Law was able to get his full driving privileges reinstated.
  • A driver was stopped by a police officer based on his driving pattern. He was arrested after being given a field sobriety test. He refused to perform a breath test. After hiring our DUI defense team, he was able to participate in the DUI Deferral Program and have the DUI charges reduced to reckless driving.

DUI Charges in Florida

A person can face one of many charges for driving under the influence in Florida. You can be convicted of a DUI if all of the following elements apply:

  • You are in physical control of a vehicle.
  • You are under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance.
  • You have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08

When people think of driving under the influence, they may think of alcohol consumption. However, driving under the influence can also mean being under the influence of illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Even being under the influence of marijuana is illegal, regardless of its legal status. Even being under the influence of prescription medications, such as painkillers and opioids, can be considered a DUI offense if it causes you to be intoxicated. If you are driving recklessly or your normal faculties are impaired, you could get a DUI for being under the influence of prescription drugs only, so be aware.

Normal facilities refer to:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Walking
  • Coordination
  • Speaking
  • Listening comprehension
  • Judgment
  • Logic
  • Depth perception

Penalties for DUI

A DUI arrest comes with many penalties, including the following:

  • Fines. For a first-time offense, the fine can range from $500 to $1,000. For a second offense, it can range from $1,000 to $2,000.
  • Jail time. A first DUI conviction can result in up to six months in jail, while a second conviction can result in up to nine months in jail.
  • Driver’s license suspension. A first-time DUI can result in a driver’s license suspension for 180 days to one year. If a second DUI occurs within five years, a person may have their driver’s license revoked for five years.

What is Impairment?

In Florida, impairment is determined in two ways:

  • If a person’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08.
  • If their normal faculties are impaired.

Under state law, “normal faculties” are defined as a person’s ability to do everyday tasks, such as walk, talk, hear, see, talk, make judgments, and perform daily tasks, both mental or physical. There is no standard for determining when mental faculties are impaired. This is subjective and pretty much up to the police officer’s discretion.

Law enforcement officials use primarily chemical testing to charge a person with a DUI. They may also use field sobriety exercises and objective evidence.

Law enforcement also uses DUI testing to measure a person’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Those who have a BAC of .08 or higher are considered intoxicated by Florida law. Since drugs don’t always show up in breath analysis, most officers will use blood or urine testing on drugged drivers. These tests are arguably problematic and are known to give skewed results.

Penalties for DUI Drugs

The penalties for drug-related DUIs are the same as ones for alcohol DUIs. Even for a first-time offense, you could face various forms of punishment, including the following:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • License suspension for up to six months
  • Up to 50 hours of community service
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
  • Requirement to install an ignition interlock device.

Purposes of DUI Defense Motions

A DUI motion does not always work, but it’s the most powerful strategy you could use. There are five purposes of motions:

  • Exclude unfavorable evidence
  • Prepare for trial
  • Improve the plea offer
  • Diversion
  • Dismiss charges

A DUI defense motion may challenge a traffic stop, the legality of a roadblock or DUI checkpoint, or the blood or breath results. Many attorneys will use a suppression motion, which will attempt to exclude any evidence obtained from an illegal stop. This type of motion seeks to eliminate all of the tests from trial.

Reasons for DUI Defense Motions

There are two main reasons why a person would move to dismiss their DUI:

  1. There was no probable cause to charge them with DUI in the first place.
  2. The way they were charged with DUI at the preliminary hearing was illegal.

Probable cause means there must be grounds to believe that:

  • A DUI was committed.
  • You were the one who committed it.

A motion could prove several things, such as you were not driving or that you were not intoxicated at all. If you could prove anything like this, then the whole case could get dismissed.

An illegal charge means that your rights were violated at the hearing. For example, if you were not given the opportunity to have an attorney present or you were not allowed to confront witnesses, then you could file a motion.

Will a DUI Motion Eliminate All Charges?

It depends on the situation. It is possible for a DUI defendant to face additional charges, such as possession of drugs or driving on a suspended license. A motion may not dismiss all of the charges, unless, for example, the problem is that you were denied the right to an attorney. However, if the motion is for a specific charge, then it may not apply to all charges.

Depending on the situation, you may or may not win your DUI case with a motion. It will depend on the types of charges as well as the specific motions.

Why the Hearing is Important

The administrative license hearing is crucial in determining whether or not you can keep your full driving privileges after the DUI arrest. Contact a attorney right away after your DUI arrest. They can assist you at your formal review hearing so you can keep your driving privileges. You can fight the license suspension while your criminal case is pending in court.

What Happens Next?

If you demand a hearing, your driving privileges will be extended until the hearing can be held. This license is good for 42 days. It is called a “Business Purpose Only” (BPO) license, which means it comes with restrictions. You can only use this license for several main purposes:

  1. Driving to and from work.
  2. Driving to and from school.
  3. Driving to and from the doctor.
  4. Driving to and from church or other religious activity.
  5. Driving to “maintain your livelihood.”

Once your hearing has been scheduled, one of two things can happen:

1. If you win your hearing, you can get a duplicate unrestricted license from the nearest DMV office. That license will be permanent, unless it is suspended by the court.

2. If your suspension is upheld, your driving privileges will be terminated when your BPO license expires. You will have to serve a “hard time” suspension of either 30 days (for a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08) or 90 days (for a refusal to take the test). During this time, you cannot drive at all. Once you complete your hard time, you can then apply for a hardship license.

A hardship license lasts for six or 12 months. If your DUI case is still active by then, the license becomes an unrestricted Florida driver’s license. If you are convicted of DUI and given a license suspension, you will have to get another hardship license.

The Person Was Not Driving

Being intoxicated in and of itself is not a crime. It only becomes a crime if you become disorderly while under the influence, such as driving a vehicle. However, driving means that you are actually operating the vehicle. If you are in the driver seat of a vehicle but sleeping off the effects of alcohol—with the vehicle off—then you are technically not driving while intoxicated. You are sleeping while intoxicated, which is not a crime.

Your Bad Driving Was Not Caused by Impairment

When police see a motorist driving erratically, their first thought is usually that the driver is intoxicated. While this is sometimes the case, it is not always true. Driving can be difficult sometimes. A person may not completely stop at a stop sign. Perhaps they switched lanes without signaling. Maybe glare from the sun caused them to move out of their lane. Even the best driver can be negligent from time to time, and it’s not always because of intoxication.

The Person Has a Medical Condition

Diabetes is one medical issue in particular that can mimic intoxication. That’s because a person with low blood sugar may develop acetone, which smells like alcohol. It can also cause an increase in BAC and cause side effects such as poor balance, slurred speech, and drowsiness—the same effects as alcohol.

Inaccurate Field Sobriety Test

Field sobriety tests are supposed to be standard, but they’re sometimes not. They must be instructed and performed the same way every time. For example, “finger to nose” tests, balancing tests, and reciting the alphabet are not standardized field sobriety tests. In addition, field sobriety tests that are standardized are invalid for some demographics, such as the elderly and those with disabilities.

What Happens During a DUI Traffic Stop?

Police will look for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, red eyes, alcohol odor on the breath, and empty beer bottles in the vehicle. If police believe that the driver is intoxicated, they may ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests. They may ask questions, such as whether or not the driver was drinking. Police may also ask the driver to take a Breathalyzer test.

Remember, in Florida, it is against the law to drive:

  • With a BAC of 0.08 or above.
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol if they cause impairment.

What this means is that a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 can be a gray area. It may be determined that one of the driver’s faculties was impaired at 0.06. This will require additional evidence for the prosecutor.

If the police officer has probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI, the driver will be taken to the local sheriff’s department. The driver’s car will be towed and impounded. The driver may be released later that night and given a citation to appear in court. If the person was extremely intoxicated or has a history of DUI convictions, they may be forced to stay in jail until they appear in court.

What Not to Do

When pulled over by police for a DUI traffic stop, do not do the following:

  • Answer questions. If a police officer asks you if you were drinking, you do not have to answer. You have the right to remain silent and contact an attorney.
  • Refuse a BAC test. Even if you are not intoxicated, refusing a blood, breath, or urine test will result in having your driver’s license suspended for one year.
  • Allow police to arrest you for no reason. The police officer does not know what you were doing before the traffic stop. Make sure the traffic stop was warranted. Why were you pulled over? Why do police suspect you are intoxicated?

Ocala Felony DUI Attorneys

Any DUI charge is serious, but a felony DUI conviction can land you in prison. Working with an attorney who has defended such charges for clients is important to your future, as experience counts in felony cases.

When a Misdemeanor DUI Becomes a Felony

In Florida, a first DUI offense is typically a misdemeanor. However, a first-time offense can become a felony if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .15%. Offenders could face enhanced penalties if convicted under these circumstances.

If you are convicted of a third DUI less than 10 years after a second, you will be charged with a felony. A fourth DUI conviction is a felony, no matter how much time has passed since the third one. A drunk driving accident that causes serious injury or death is also charged as a felony DUI under Florida law. The punishment for a felony DUI charge includes up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

How to Get the Best Outcome for Your Ocala DUI Case

Your DUI case’s outcome depends on the circumstances it involves. An attorney can explain the charges and Florida laws that apply to your case and advise you on what to expect.

DUI Defenses

If you face a DUI charge, you and your attorney will work on your defense, which may look like one of the following common ones:

  • You were not the driver of the vehicle.
  • You were not in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.
  • You were not allowed to contact an attorney.
  • The police officer didn’t follow proper procedures.
  • The police officer conducted an illegal stop of the vehicle.
  • Your BAC level increased due to diabetes, mouthwash, or a special diet.
  • Eyewitness statements conflict with police reports.
  • No Miranda warning was given.

Our Ocala DUI defense attorney will assess your case and find the appropriate defense based on the circumstances of your case.

We are here for you 24/7

(Consultations are Free)

Call Us Now

Ocala DUI Multiple Offense Attorneys

If you have been convicted of at least one DUI and are facing charges for another in Florida, you may face harsh penalties. A legal team that knows Florida’s complex DUI laws, particularly as they relate to multiple offenses, will be key to mounting a solid defense.

Keep in mind that a judge may add to the brief list of penalties below.

Second DUI Offense

Under Florida law, a person can face strict minimum mandatory penalties for a second offense. When it comes to subsequent offenses, time periods apply.

When a second DUI offense occurs within days or decades after the first offense, you face:

  • A minimum fine of $1,000
  • Up to nine months in jail
  • Impoundment of your car for a set number of days
  • A suspended driver’s license for months
  • An ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle

Third DUI Offense

When a third DUI offense occurs within 10 years of a second DUI conviction, there is:

  • A minimum 30-day jail stay with your driver’s license suspended for 10 years.
  • A requirement for fines to begin at $2,000.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device.

Fourth DUI Offense

You may end up serving five years in prison and paying at least $2,000 in fines. In addition:

  • Your driver’s license could be revoked for life.
  • You may also be ordered to perform community service.
  • You may receive an order to complete substance abuse courses or treatment programs.

Ocala DUI Driver’s License Suspension Hearing Attorney

One of the first penalties you face after a DUI arrest is suspension of your driver’s license. After you are arrested, you have just 10 days to apply for a DMV administrative review hearing. At this hearing, you can ask for the driver’s license suspension to be invalidated and removed from your driving record.

You may fight the license suspension while your criminal case is pending in court.

Driving After A DUI Arrest

After your arrest, authorities will take your license and replace it with a temporary unrestricted license good for 10 days.

If you apply for a hearing, your driving privileges will be extended until the hearing can be held. This license is good for 42 days. It is called a business purpose only (BPO) license, and you may only use it for certain purposes: driving to and from work, school, the doctor, church, or other religious activity, or to maintain your livelihood.

Once you have your hearing, you will either:

  1. Win your hearing and get a permanent duplicate unrestricted license unless the court suspends it.
  1. Lose your driving privileges when your BPO expires and face a “hard time” suspension of either 30 days (for a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08) or 90 days (if you refused to take the test). During this time, you cannot drive. Once you complete your hard time, you can apply for a hardship BPO license.

A hardship license can last for six or 12 months. If your DUI case is still active by then, the license becomes an unrestricted Florida driver’s license. If you are convicted of DUI and given a license suspension, you will have to get another hardship license.

Meldon Team

We are here for you 24/7

(Consultations are Free)

Call Us Now

Ocala DUI BAC Test Defense Attorney

If you are driving erratically or not following traffic laws in Ocala, the police may pull you over. At the traffic stop, police may test for intoxication, although field sobriety test results are not always reliable. If an officer believes you are driving under the influence, they could arrest you and administer a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test after the arrest.

BAC results can be inaccurate. Even when they are correct, the alcohol detected may not be from alcoholic drinks. If your BAC result is 0.08 or higher, consulting with an Ocala DUI BAC test defense attorney who understands the potential flaws in the tests may help your defense.

Ocala DUI Defense Motions Attorney

Fighting a DUI charge is challenging. An attorney with experience in criminal law and, specifically, Florida’s DUI laws can help defendants with this case type.

A powerful tool in a defense attorney’s belt is the defense motion. Attorneys present these motions after the preliminary hearing but before the trial. Attorneys use them to get the court to decide some issues before the trial starts. Motions are common and can be successful if done properly.

Purposes of DUI Defense Motions

A defense motion does not always work, but it’s a powerful strategy and could produce favorable results for your case if the court agrees, such as:

  • Forcing the prosecution to share evidence
  • Excluding unfavorable evidence
  • Proving police misconduct
  • Dismissing or reducing your charges

Meldon Law in Ocala Protects Your Future – Call Us Today for Help From a DUI Defense Attorney

Our Ocala DUI defense lawyers fight for your rights backed by decades of institutional knowledge in criminal and Florida DUI laws. Don’t give up on your future. Call us at (352) 373-8000 for a free no-obligation case evaluation.


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