DUI is a common abbreviation for driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol impairs concentration, distorts vision, and slows a driver’s reaction time. These limitations can cause serious accidents that leave another driver or passenger severely injured—or dead.
Given the potential dangers of alcohol and drug intoxication, Florida law severely penalizes convicted DUI offenders. Convicted offenders usually face harsh legal penalties, including high monetary fines, community service, probation, and even jail time. When an individual becomes a repeat DUI offender, a judge can increase the penalties by sentencing the repeat offender to a longer jail term.
If you or someone you care about is currently facing a DUI charge or arrest, you should speak with a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your area as soon as possible. The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can meet with you to discuss your arrest, explore your legal options, and determine if we can raise a legal defense to your DUI charge.
In addition, your lawyer will be with you in court and can negotiate a favorable plea deal with the state prosecutor on your behalf. If necessary, your lawyer can represent you at a trial or sentencing hearing and help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
Do not risk an avoidable DUI conviction and overly harsh penalties in the New Port Richey criminal courts. Instead, seek legal help immediately after an arrest. To find out more about how we can assist with defending against your pending DUI charge, please call our DUI defense attorneys today.
The Legal Standard for DUI in New Port Richey
Alcohol can severely affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle carefully and safely, so if a police officer suspects that you are drinking and driving, they can pull your vehicle over—especially if they observe you weaving between lanes, speeding, or driving aggressively.
If the officer pulls your vehicle over, they may ask you to exit your vehicle and complete a field sobriety test. They may also later subject you to a Breathalyzer test or urine test.
Florida considers an individual legally intoxicated if a Breathalyzer test determines they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Commercial vehicle drivers, including tractor-trailer, big rig, and 18-wheeler operators, must follow a stricter standard of care since they are professionals. These individuals are legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent or greater. Florida’s zero-tolerance policy sets a 0.02 percent BAC cutoff for drivers under 21 years old.
If a police officer arrests you for DUI, you should not answer any questions —except for providing basic contact information—without first asking that an attorney be present with you. In particular, you should never answer questions about whether you had anything to drink or how much you had to drink earlier in the day.
If you assert your right to legal counsel, the police officer has to stop questioning you and wait until a lawyer is present—either on the phone or in person. Your lawyer can object to certain questions or instruct you not to answer them if they are objectionable. Having a knowledgeable DUI lawyer on your side at the beginning of the case helps to ensure that your legal rights remain protected and that you do not say something potentially damaging to your case.
The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you during initial questioning, thereby safeguarding your constitutional rights.
What is Burden of Proof in a New Port Richey DUI Case?
In all criminal cases, including DUI matters, the state prosecutor has the sole legal burden of proof. The arrested or charged individual—or the defendant—does not need to prove anything. In fact, the defendant does not even need to take the witness stand and testify at a criminal court trial.
Rather, the state prosecutor is responsible for approving all of the legal elements of their case beyond a reasonable doubt—which is a very high legal standard. If the prosecutor fails to satisfy this burden, the entire criminal case can be subject to dismissal.
In some instances, a DUI lawyer can assert a defense on the defendant’s behalf that may negate one or more legal elements of the claim. The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can determine if one or more legal defenses might apply to your DUI case. If so, we can assert that defense on your behalf in court and work to obtain a complete dismissal of your criminal legal matter.
Plea Deals in DUI Cases
In some instances, our experienced legal team can negotiate a favorable plea deal with the state prosecutor handling your DUI case. We have positive working relationships with DUI prosecutors in New Port Richey, and we can pursue a plea deal that benefits you.
A plea deal usually means that the accused agrees to plead guilty—in exchange for some lesser charge. For example, in exchange for pleading guilty, the prosecutor might be willing to lower a charge from DUI to reckless driving or some other less serious offense.
When an individual accepts a plea deal, they give up certain legal rights, including their right to file an appeal. Moreover, they must testify that they agree to the plea deal freely and voluntarily, without any coercion. In some instances, plea deals can benefit defendants, and our legal team can help you decide whether you should accept a pending plea deal or take your DUI case to trial.
What are the Potential Fines and Penalties Associated with a DUI Conviction?
To be subject to criminal penalties in a DUI case, the state prosecutor must satisfy their legal burden. If that happens and the prosecutor obtains a conviction against you, it will be up to a sentencing judge to impose penalties against you. Judges set these penalties within certain state minimums and maximums. Moreover, certain enhancing factors may allow a judge to increase the penalties against you.
Potential penalties for a DUI conviction typically include community service, probation, high monetary fines, and jail time. Guilty drivers may also incur administrative penalties, including monetary fines, driver’s license suspensions, and license revocations.
Sentencing judges may also require DUI offenders to attend drug and alcohol rehabilitation courses. These courses discourage drivers from drinking and driving again and ensure they do not offend again. These courses also advise drivers of the importance of sober driving and the many dangers associated with drunk driving.
Finally, judges may require an offender to participate in Florida’s state-wide Ignition Interlock Device Program. To participate, a DUI offender must pay to install the device on their vehicle and pay regular maintenance costs. To use the device, a driver must first blow into it when they get behind the wheel. If the device detects any alcohol on their breath, the vehicle will not start. This prevents drivers from operating their vehicles while impaired or intoxicated again.
Under certain circumstances, judges may increase penalties, such as when the accused individual is a repeat DUI offender. The penalties typically increase based upon the number of prior DUI offenses the individual has on their record. Moreover, a judge may increase penalties if the DUI caused an accident that resulted in another person’s injury or death.
The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at your sentencing hearing and pursue a fair and reasonable penalty under the circumstances. We can advocate for your legal interests by downplaying any weaknesses in your case and helping you achieve the best result possible.
Collateral Consequences Associated with DUI Convictions
In addition to sustaining legal penalties upon conviction for DUI, offenders will experience collateral consequences. Landlords, educational institutions, and employers perform regular background checks on offenders, which can keep (or kick) people out of housing, school, or jobs.
Potential collateral consequences include difficulty with:
- Finding or keeping a job
- Finding a decent place to live
- Attending school at the educational institution of choice
The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at a sentencing hearing and work to minimize the collateral consequences associated with your DUI conviction.
Defending You Against Your Criminal DUI Charge
In some instances, it might be beneficial for you to go to trial and assert a legal defense to your criminal DUI charge. The experienced New Port Richey DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can help you decide whether to accept a pending plea deal or take your case to trial.
Common legal defenses to a DUI charge include:
- Breathalyzer machine malfunction
- Fourth Amendment violations, where the police officer engages in an unreasonable or random traffic stop
- Fifth amendment violations where the police officer or investigator continues asking questions after the suspect asserts their legal right to counsel.
- Inaccurate field sobriety tests, where the arrestee suffers a medical condition that prevents them from performing the test correctly.
If any of these legal defenses apply to your circumstances, our experienced legal team can let you know. We can then assert one or more defenses on your behalf at trial. In some instances, a successful legal defense can lead to a complete dismissal of a pending DUI case.
Talk to a New Port Richey DUI Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
If you currently have a pending DUI case, you must retain a knowledgeable DUI lawyer to represent you. Generally speaking, the earlier you involve a lawyer in your case, the better result you will obtain. Moreover, your lawyer needs sufficient time to review all of the evidence in your case, speak with you about your arrest, and prepare for your upcoming trial.
Waiting too long to seek legal representation can be detrimental to your case. If you wait too long, a lawyer may not have the time they need to prepare your case for trial, investigate the circumstances, and develop a strong legal defense to assert on your behalf.
Showing up in court without a lawyer present can lead the presiding judge may assume that you waived your right to legal representation. Consequently, the judge can theoretically make you go forward without a lawyer. This almost guarantees that your case will turn out unfavorably. A lawyer who is present with you in court may raise a legal defense on your behalf or negotiate a favorable deal with the state prosecutor.
The knowledgeable team of attorneys at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you from the beginning of your DUI case until the very end. After meeting with you to discuss your case, we can determine if you are eligible to raise one or more legal defenses in response to your criminal DUI charge.
We can also work with a state prosecutor to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf. If that is not possible, we welcome the opportunity to take your case to trial and advocate for your legal interests there. Finally, if you ultimately sustain a DUI conviction, we can represent you at your sentencing hearing and argue for a fair and reasonable penalty.
For a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a knowledgeable New Port Richey DUI lawyer, please call us at (727) 849-5353 or contact us online today to learn how we can help. Let us help you make the best of a bad situation and pursue the best possible result in your criminal case.
New Port Richey Office
8606 Government Dr
New Port Richey, FL 34654
P: (727) 849-5353