If a police officer arrests you for DUI, it means they believe you were driving while under the influence of alcohol. Intoxicated and impaired vehicle operation can lead to serious accidents and injuries because alcohol is a depressant that slows down a person’s central nervous system.
A driver under the influence may lack focus and concentration, preventing them from watching the road. An intoxicated driver may also experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. Finally, impaired drivers often experience various physical symptoms, including blurred vision, dizziness, and nausea. All of these negative consequences prevent a driver from operating their vehicle safely.
Given the potential for accidents and injuries resulting from DUI, an individual who sustains a DUI conviction may incur serious legal penalties and collateral consequences. Those potential penalties may include jail time, fines, probation, and community service. If an individual is a repeat DUI offender, a judge can increase the usual penalties, subjecting the offender to higher monetary fines and extended jail time.
If you currently face criminal DUI charges, you must retain an experienced lawyer to represent you as early on in your case as possible.
The skilled Wesley Chapel DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at every stage of your legal proceedings, from initial questioning through the end of the trial. Our lawyers will be by your side every step of the way, advocating for your legal interests and helping you pursue the best possible result in your criminal case.
To learn more about how we can assist with defending you against your criminal DUI charge, please call us today for more information.
Who Has the Legal Burden of Proof in a DUI Case?
To obtain a conviction against you in your criminal DUI case, the state prosecutor has to satisfy their legal burden. Specifically, they must prove that you were the individual driving the vehicle in question—and that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of your arrest. If the prosecutor cannot satisfy these legal elements, your entire DUI case may be subject to complete dismissal.
As with any criminal case, the state prosecutor has the sole legal burden of proof. Therefore, the accused individual—or the defendant—does not need to prove anything or satisfy any legal elements. In fact, the defendant does not even need to testify at their criminal court trial. In some instances, this may be to the defendant’s benefit.
Moreover, the defendant can raise one or more legal defenses in response to their DUI charge. A legal defense may preclude the prosecution from satisfying the charge elements, and a case dismissal may result.
The knowledgeable Wesley Chapel DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can review the circumstances of your arrest with you to determine if you are eligible to raise a specific legal defense at trial. We can then represent you at all court proceedings in your case and advocate for your legal interests there.
What are the Legal Standards for DUI in Wesley Chapel?
For a police officer to arrest someone for DUI, they must normally have probable cause that a driver is under the influence of alcohol. First, the police officer must reasonably suspect that the driver violated a traffic law to pull them over. For example, a police officer can pull a driver over for minor traffic violations, such as speeding. This is true even if the stop is a pretext for the officer to see if the driver is intoxicated.
When determining whether a driver is under the influence, police officers typically use a variety of tests. For example, the officer may administer one or more field sobriety tests and subject the driver to a Breathalyzer test.
Potential field sobriety tests include:
- The one-leg-stand test.
- The walk-and-turn test.
- The horizontal-gaze-nystagmus (HGN) test.
The officer could arrest the driver if the driver cannot walk in a straight line, staggers, or exhibits other signs of alcohol intoxication
A driver’s Breathalyzer test result may also indicate that the driver is intoxicated or impaired. In Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent is legally intoxicated.
Commercial vehicle drivers must satisfy a higher legal standard, including tractor-trailer and big rig operators. Specifically, if a commercial driver has a BAC of at least 0.04 percent, they are legally intoxicated. Florida effectively utilizes a zero-tolerance policy for minors under 21 years of age.
If Breathalyzer evidence shows that a minor driver has any alcohol in their system, the police officer can arrest them for DUI.
If a police officer pulls you over for any reason, including suspected DUI, cooperate, but do not answer any substantive questions. This is especially true if the officer asks whether you were drinking or how much you may have consumed earlier in the day. If a police officer begins questioning you, you should immediately insist upon your right to legal counsel.
If you assert your right to counsel, the police officer must end their questioning immediately and wait until counsel is present with you—either in-person or via telephone. If the police officer continues asking you questions and you respond, your responses may be subject to suppression and excluded from evidence at your criminal court trial.
The experienced Wesley Chapel DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at every stage of your criminal case, including during police questioning. Our legal team can be present with you during any interrogation, object to certain questions, and instruct you not to answer if the officer’s question is objectionable. We can then represent you at later stages of your criminal case and pursue the best possible result on your behalf.
What Are Some Potential Defenses to a Criminal DUI Charge?
Drivers facing criminal DUI charges may be eligible to raise several legal defenses to their charge at trial. If the defense is successful, your case may be subject to a complete dismissal. As a result, you may not incur any penalties for your DUI.
A lawyer may raise different defenses from case to case. Some of the most common include Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations, defective Breathalyzer evidence, and inaccurate field sobriety test results—usually stemming from a pre-existing health condition.
First, the arrestee may allege that the police officer violated their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. This can happen when the police officer does not have a valid basis for pulling a vehicle over. The officer may have engaged in a random traffic stop or lacked the necessary reasonable suspicion to pull the car over. If the evidence later shows that you were intoxicated, it may be subject to suppression at trial.
Moreover, if a police officer continued questioning you after you requested legal counsel, your responses may be subject to exclusion—even if they were incriminating.
An individual can also allege that the Breathalyzer equipment recording their BAC was defective somehow. Breathalyzer equipment sometimes malfunctions, and if it records an inaccurate result, the evidence it produces may be subject to exclusion at trial.
Finally, an arrestee can challenge their field sobriety test results. Some individuals suffer pre-existing health conditions that preclude them from accurately completing field sobriety tests. For example, they may suffer from medical conditions which affect their balance. When that happens, the arrestee can argue that their poor test performance resulted from their medical condition—rather than alcohol intoxication or impairment.
The knowledgeable Wesley Chapel DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can review the circumstances of your arrest with you and determine if you are eligible to raise any of these legal defenses in response to your DUI charge. If you are, we can argue the appropriate defenses at your criminal trial and work to obtain a complete dismissal of your case.
What Is a Plea Deal, and How Does It Apply to a DUI Case?
In some instances, an individual facing DUI charges may be eligible for a plea deal. A plea deal is an agreement between the criminal defendant and the state prosecutor.
As part of a plea deal, the accused individual agrees to plead guilty—but to a lesser criminal charge. For example, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charge from DUI to reckless driving if the accused agrees to plead guilty.
By pleading guilty, an individual gives up certain rights, including their right to appeal. They must also state, on the record, that their agreement is not the result of coercion and that they agree to plead guilty freely and voluntarily.
The experienced Wesley Chapel DUI lawyers at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can help you determine if a particular plea deal benefits you.
What are the Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction?
Individuals who sustain a DUI conviction can face serious penalties. The sentencing judge determines what penalties to impose against you within certain state minimums and maximums that the legislature establishes. Potential penalties upon conviction for DUI include fines, jail time, community service, and probation.
The state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may also assess various fines and penalties, including driver’s license suspensions and revocations. If the MVA suspends your driver’s license, you will need to pay money for reinstatement.
In addition, a sentencing judge may order you to:
- Take part in an alcohol rehabilitation course.
- Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, which prevents you from driving without first blowing into it. If the device detects any alcohol in your system, your vehicle will not start.
In addition to these legal penalties, you may experience numerous collateral consequences following a DUI conviction. For example, you may have difficulty finding a job, going to school, or finding a place to live. This is because potential employers, educational institutions, and landlords frequently perform background checks on individuals. If they notice a pattern of DUI convictions, they may not decide in your favor.
A knowledgeable Wesley Chapel DUI lawyer at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer can represent you at your sentencing hearing and work to minimize your potential legal penalties and collateral consequences following a DUI conviction. We can do this by downplaying the weaknesses of your case and highlighting your rehabilitation efforts.
Contact a Skilled Wesley Chapel DUI Lawyer about Your Legal Matter Today
If a police officer recently arrested you on suspected DUI charges, time is of the essence in your case. Retaining experienced legal counsel early on in the process is essential to the success of your defense.
A lawyer must have time to speak with you, review the evidence in your case, and prepare your case for trial. Moreover, if you show up to your court proceeding without a lawyer, the judge may assume that you waived your right to legal representation—and make you go to trial without a lawyer. That almost guarantees an unfavorable result for you.
Fortunately, the skilled team of attorneys at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer is in your corner and ready to represent you at every stage of your criminal case. We can be by your side, advocating for you during a police interrogation, when negotiating with a state prosecutor, and in the courtroom.
Our legal team has favorable working relationships with state prosecutors and criminal court judges, and we use those relationships to our advantage when advocating for our clients. Our lawyers can safeguard your legal and constitutional rights at every stage of the proceedings and work to obtain the best possible result for you in your criminal case.
Wesley Chapel Office
2533 Windguard Cir Suite 101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
P: (813) 849-5353