How to Fight Your DUI

by Michael Eugene Zmijewski on Aug. 01, 2019

Criminal DUI-DWI Criminal Criminal  Misdemeanor 

Summary: Florida DUI laws are challenging and complex, and you will benefit from seeking the advice of an experienced DUI lawyer. As a former DUI prosecutor, I will be able to review and evaluate your case and provide you with the experience needed to fight your DUI charge.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you undoubtedly are experiencing feelings of uncertainty and angst.  A criminal conviction for DUI can effect you personally, professionally, and financially.  Even if this is your first DUI, the penalties can be severe.

With so much on the line, it is important for you to consult with an experienced Orlando DUI Attorney who has experience and knowledge of Florida DUI laws.  This experience could mean the difference between a criminal conviction and having your charges reduced or dismissed.

DUI Penalties

Unlike most other criminal cases, DUI offenses leave the Court very little discretion when it comes to sentencing.  For a first-time DUI offender, some of the potential penalties that they may face include:

  • Conviction: even if this is your first criminal offense, the Florida Legislature requires the Court to enter a mandatory conviction.  This means that you will have a permanent criminal record that will not be eligible to be sealed or expunged.

  • Probation: mandatory 1-year probation

  • Fines: for a first-time DUI, a conviction can result in a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 plus court costs and costs of investigation.

  • Jail: although not mandatory, the Court has the discretion to sentence a first-time DUI offender to jail for a period of six-months.

  • License Suspension: the Court must suspend the convicted person’s driving privileges for a period of not less than six-months up to one-year.

  • Ignition Interlock: for a first-time DUI offender, if you had a breath alcohol level in excess of 0.150, the Court is required to order you to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you routinely operate.

  • Substance Abuse/Alcohol Treatment: you will be required to undergo an alcohol/substance abuse evaluation and participate in any treatment that is recommended.

DUI Defenses

1. Challenging the Basis of the Stop

In most cases, a DUI begins with a law enforcement officer stopping your vehicle.  In the State of Florida, the law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to stop your vehicle.  Many of our clients are stopped for the following infractions:

  • Failing to Maintain a Single Lane

  • Speeding

  • Following too closely

  • Weaving

If we are able to establish that the law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, than any and all evidence that is collected by law enforcement will be suppressed which will result in your case being dismissed.

2. Challenging the Officer's Observations Relating to Impairment

In almost every DUI arrest affidavit, the arresting officer will indicate that he/she observed the suspect to have red and glossy eyes, slurred speech, and the odor of alcohol.  Although these can be indicators of impairment, there are also many other explanations available that may have nothing to do with the consumption of alcohol.  For example, red and glossy eyes may be a direct result of the client's occupation and any issues related to speech could be a result of a speech impediment.  

3. Challenging the Reliability of the Results of the Field Sobriety Exercises

DUI Prosecutors utilize the results of field sobriety exercises to establish impairment.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the results offered by the law enforcement officer are merely there subjective observations.  In some cases, dash-cam videos are available to challenge the officer's interpretation of the facts.  In cases where a dash-cam is not available, factors we explore to consider the reliability of the results of the field sobriety exercises include:

  • Weather conditions
  • Is the area well lit
  • Were the exercises completed on a flat surface or was the roadway crowned
  • What type of footwear was the client wearing
  • Did the client have a medical condition
  • Age of the client

4. Challenge the Breath Test

In the State of Florida, anyone who provides a breath alcohol test in excess of 0.08% is presumed impaired.  However, the issue becomes whether or not the test was reliable.  Prior to the administration of the breath test, the law enforcement officer is required to advise the client of the implied consent warning and observe the client for 20-minutes before the test can be administered to ensure that the client does not burp or regurgitate.  Failure to follow this protocol can result in the breath test being suppressed.  Other issues that are researched include whether the breath test machine has been properly maintained and calibrated.  

5. Challenging an Arrest Made at a DUI Checkpoint

Like many States, Florida allows law enforcement to conduct DUI Checkpoints to combat drunk driving.  However, there are very strict guidelines and procedures that law enforcement must follow when conducting DUI Checkpoints.  Failure to follow the guidelines and procedures can result in your DUI charge being dismissed.

Experienced DUI Defense

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, keep in mind that there are many deadlines that must be adhered to.  Failure to act quickly could prevent you from raising defenses enumerated above.  For this reason, it is important for you to contact an experienced Orlando DUI Attorney immediately after your arrest to discuss your case and begin work defending your rights.  If you have been arrested for DUI, call us today at 407-473-1233 to discuss your case.

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