DUI means driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A driver suffering the effects of alcohol intoxication or impairment cannot operate a vehicle safely. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down a person’s central nervous system.
Consequently, a driver under the influence may have difficulty concentrating on the road, staying awake, and seeing clearly. Moreover, alcohol delays a driver’s reaction time and often prevents them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. When an intoxicated or impaired driver causes an accident, serious injuries and deaths can result.
Given the many dangers of drug and alcohol intoxication, Florida state law subjects DUI offenders to serious penalties. These penalties include probation, community service, high monetary fines, and even jail time in certain circumstances.
If a driver sustains several DUI convictions, the sentencing judge can impose harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences. Convicted offenders may also incur administrative fines and penalties from the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and suffer collateral consequences.
If you or someone you love recently incurred a DUI charge, you must have experienced legal counsel on your side at every stage of your case. The knowledgeable Spring Hill DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you throughout your DUI case and pursue the best possible result on your behalf.
First, our legal team can represent you immediately after your arrest and during any police questioning. We can also work with the state prosecutor handling your case and pursue a favorable plea deal on your behalf. Alternatively, we can represent you at all courtroom proceedings and introduce a solid legal defense on your behalf. Finally, if you ultimately sustain a DUI conviction, we can represent you at your sentencing hearing and argue for a fair penalty.
To find out more about how we can assist you with your criminal DUI defense, please call us for more information. We have extensive experience defending against DUI charges and protecting our clients in the criminal justice system.
The Legal Burden of Proof in a DUI Case
In a criminal DUI case, the state prosecutor handling your claim has the sole legal burden of proof. As a case defendant, you do not need to prove anything—or even testify on the witness stand at a courtroom trial. Many times, you will not benefit from testifying at trial.
If the prosecutor fails to satisfy their legal burden and demonstrate that you operated your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, your criminal case may be subject to dismissal. A strong defense that our team raises on your behalf may be sufficient to negate one or more legal elements, resulting in the court dismissing your charge.
The experienced Spring Hill DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can determine if you are eligible to raise one or more legal defenses at trial. If so, we can represent you at your court hearings, raise the defense(s) on your behalf, and pursue the best possible result in your criminal case.
How Does a Person Incur a Criminal DUI Charge?
For a police officer to arrest you for DUI, they must determine that you operated your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. If you were swerving on the road or driving recklessly, the police officer can pull you over. If the officer pulls you over, you should be cooperative and exit the vehicle if they ask you to do so. They may also request that you complete a field sobriety test or take a Breathalyzer test.
In Florida, if a Breathalyzer test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, the driver is legally intoxicated. Commercial vehicle drivers, including drivers of 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and big rigs, must satisfy a higher legal standard.
Specifically, if a Breathalyzer test reveals their BAC is 0.04 percent or greater, they are intoxicated. Finally, a 0.02 percent BAC cutoff applies to minors under 21 years old. If they have any alcohol in their system, a police officer can arrest them for DUI.
If an officer pulls you over and begins asking you questions—including whether you had anything to drink—you should not answer those questions. Instead, you should request that a lawyer be present with you. If you make this request, the police officer has to stop questioning you. If they continue questioning you and you respond, your answers may be subject to exclusion from evidence at your criminal trial.
Having a lawyer present with you during police questioning is extremely important. Your lawyer can object to certain questions or even instruct you not to answer under certain circumstances. The knowledgeable Spring Hill DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you and protect your constitutional and other legal rights at every stage of your legal proceedings.
What Are Common Defenses to a Criminal DUI Charge?
In some instances, an individual facing arrest for DUI can assert a legal defense to the charge. The arrestee’s lawyer may raise this defense at a criminal trial. The experienced Spring Hill DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can explore these defenses with you and determine if you might be eligible to assert one or more of them in your case.
Common defenses to a criminal DUI charge include:
- Invalid traffic stop – A police officer must have at least some degree of reasonable suspicion to pull your vehicle over. They may believe you violated a traffic law, such as by speeding or failing to yield the right-of-way. Alternatively, they may believe that you are under the influence of alcohol if you are weaving in and out of traffic. However, police officers cannot engage in random traffic stops. If the police officer did not have sufficient cause to pull your vehicle over in the first place, you can raise that defense to your DUI charge.
- Fifth Amendment violations – If a police officer begins questioning you and you assert your right to counsel, the police officer must stop their questioning. If the officer continues to question you and you say something incriminating, that statement may be subject to suppression if your case later proceeds to trial.
- Inaccurate field sobriety tests – If a police officer suspects a driver was drinking, they may order the driver to take a field sobriety test. However, some drivers fail field sobriety tests—not because they are intoxicated, but because they have a medical condition that affects their balance. In that instance, the driver can challenge the field sobriety test results.
- Breathalyzer malfunctions – Breathalyzer machines are not perfect, and they sometimes malfunction and record inaccurate readings. You should inform your attorney if you believe that might have happened in your case. Your attorney can then request that someone investigate the machine and determine if it worked correctly during your arrest.
If you recently sustained an arrest for DUI, the experienced Spring Hill DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your arrest. Together, we can decide whether you are eligible to argue any of these legal defenses in court. If so, we can represent and aggressively advocate for you at all of your court hearings.
Pursuing a Favorable Plea Deal in Your DUI Case
In some circumstances, you may not be eligible to assert a defense to your DUI charge. However, your lawyer can work with the state prosecutor to negotiate a favorable plea deal. Our legal team will let you know if a plea deal is on the table and if you should consider accepting it.
A plea deal means the accused agrees to plead guilty—but to a lesser charge. For example, as part of a plea deal, the accused can plead guilty in exchange for the prosecutor dropping the charge from DUI to reckless driving. If you agree to a plea deal, you will be giving up your right to an appeal. Moreover, you will need to state on the record, in court, that you agree to the plea deal freely and voluntarily.
Potential DUI Penalties
To receive criminal penalties in a DUI case, a court must convict you. In other words, the state prosecutor handling your case must satisfy all legal elements. If that happens, a sentencing judge will determine what penalties to impose against you. These penalties are typically subject to various minimums and maximums the state legislature sets. However, under certain circumstances, enhancing factors might come into play, resulting in penalty increases.
Potential penalties that DUI offenders may incur include probation, monetary fines, community service, and jail time. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may also assess various fines and penalties against you. Specifically, the MVA may suspend or revoke your driver’s license for a certain time. If you incur a license suspension, you can petition for reinstatement after a certain amount of time passes.
In addition, a judge may order that the offender participates in the statewide Ignition Interlock Program. An ignition interlock device prevents a driver from operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Before starting their car, the driver must blow into the device. If the device detects any amount of alcohol on their breath, the vehicle will not start. In addition to paying the initial installation fees for the ignition interlock device, a driver must also pay regular maintenance fees while the device is on their vehicle.
Finally, a judge may order a DUI offender to participate in alcohol rehabilitation courses. These courses stress the dangers associated with drunk driving and aim to prevent drivers from becoming re-offenders.
When certain enhancing factors exist, judges may increase the penalties they impose. Repeated DUI convictions are some of the most common enhancing factors. Generally speaking, the judge may increase the penalties with each new DUI that an offender receives.
If you ultimately sustain a DUI conviction, an experienced Spring Hill DUI lawyer at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you during your sentencing hearing. We can highlight the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses and argue for a reasonable penalty on your behalf.
Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction
Individuals who sustain DUI convictions may also face numerous collateral consequences, in addition to the legal penalties that a sentencing judge imposes. Collateral consequences are life consequences that a convicted DUI offender may experience.
Common collateral consequences include:
- The inability to attend an educational institution of choice
- Difficulty finding a place to live
- Difficulty finding or keeping a job
These collateral consequences occur when prospective educational institutions, landlords, and employers perform background checks on individuals. If the background check reveals a DUI conviction on your record, it could hurt you. This is especially true if you have multiple DUI arrests or convictions.
A skilled Spring Hill DUI lawyer at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at your sentencing hearing and work to minimize these collateral consequences—including the overall impact the DUI conviction has on your life.
Speak to an Experienced Spring Hill DUI Lawyer about Your Criminal Defense Today
If you are currently facing a DUI arrest or charge, the skilled team of attorneys at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer is ready to assist you. Our team can represent you during initial police questioning and at all later stages of your DUI case. We can also represent you aggressively in court or negotiate a favorable plea deal with the state prosecutor on your behalf. Finally, if you ultimately sustain a conviction, we can be present with you at your sentencing hearing and argue for a penalty that’s reasonable and fair.
Spring Hill Office
2190 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, FL 34606
P: (352) 686-0080