Florida has serious penalties for those convicted of drunk driving charges. From driver’s license suspensions to jail time, the ramifications of a DUI conviction can dramatically affect your daily life in a number of ways. If police arrested you for DUI or you have charges pending, you need help from a team of DUI lawyers in Pinellas County. It pays to act quickly in these cases, so you should give us a call as soon as possible after your arrest.
At Goldman Wetzel, our DUI defense attorneys can fight to reach a plea agreement, reduce your penalties, or even have the charges against you dropped. Call us at 727-828-3900 for a free case review, and let us go to work for you today.
Expect Stiff Legal Penalties If Convicted of a DUI in Pinellas County
The penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida are harsh, and only increase with subsequent convictions. You can also expect more severe sentencing if you caused an accident or injury while impaired. Some of the penalties you may encounter if convicted include:
Driver’s License Suspension
Your driver’s license suspension may last for several months, a year, or more depending on the facts of your case and any previous convictions. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, we may be able to petition for a special restricted license that allows you to drive to work or school.
Fines Up to $4,000
In most first convictions, you will face a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .15 or above, you may owe up to $2,000. The same is true if a minor was in your car at the time of your arrest. Second or subsequent convictions result in fines up to $2,000, or $4,000 with a BAC of .15 or above.
Mandatory Community Service
If you receive a conviction for a DUI charge, you will likely face a minimum of 50 hours of community service.
The state will likely impound your vehicle after a DUI conviction. Sometimes, we can argue your family needs your car for daily transportation. If we cannot, you will likely lose access to your vehicle for ten days for your first conviction. A second conviction calls for a 30-day impoundment, and a third will land you 90 days without your vehicle.
First time offenders face up to a year of probation. Repeated convictions usually mean additional probation.
Incarceration is perhaps the most dreaded penalty associated with any conviction. When it comes to a Florida DUI, you can expect your sentence to begin at a maximum of six months for a first-time offense and a BAC below 0.15 at the time of arrest.
Additional convictions call for additional time in jail. The third conviction within a decade, or the fourth conviction over the course of a lifetime, results in a felony charge and up to five years in prison.
We will get involved early to avoid a license suspension and to begin building your case against conviction. Summer started her career as a prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office so she knows how quickly the state acts to convict drunk drivers. And because Maribeth has always been on the defense, she has years of experience fighting zealous prosecutors and determining new ways to approach cases.
A DUI Conviction Can Affect All Aspects of Your Life
Few crimes affect every single aspect of your life like a DUI conviction does. If the prosecution brings charges and successfully convicts you, you could face jail time, significant fines, and other penalties. This could cause you to lose your job, and struggle to pay other financial obligations.
Having a conviction on your criminal record, even for a relatively minor DUI offense, can cause problems later as well. You will have to explain the conviction when applying for jobs or renting a new apartment, and may not be able to work in certain occupations that require a clean driving record because of your conviction. You will also face high insurance rates for years after conviction.
We Will Fight to Minimize the Impact Your Arrest Has on Your Life
Our primary goal is to minimize the impact your DUI arrest has on your everyday life. This is why we get involved as soon as we can. In some cases, we can convince the prosecutors to reduce the charges against you, or to drop them entirely. We can appeal the automatic driver’s license suspension, or apply for a license that allows you to drive to school, work, and run household errands. If necessary, we can fight the charges against you in court.
There are a number of tactics we use to reduce or eliminate the charges against you, including negotiating for lesser charges such as a wet reckless. In some cases, we may push for the prosecutor to drop the charges against you based on evidence we collect.
If we need to go to court in your case, we will represent you in the best light possible and fight for the minimum sentence available in the event of a conviction. However, there are often strong defenses that may result in a not guilty verdict in a Pinellas County DUI case. These include:
Mistakes Made During Your Arrest
In our experience, it is not unusual for law enforcement officers to make mistakes and errors in DUI arrests. Sometimes, they stop drivers without probable cause or make mistakes during the testing or arrest process. Sometimes they inadvertently violate an accused offender’s rights before or after arrest. We can bring these errors to light in court, and they may lead to the court dropping charges against you.
Issues with Blood Alcohol Level Readings
Breathalyzers and other tools that determine BAC must be properly calibrated, and used in a very specific way. When used improperly, the results are not reliable.
We may also be able to challenge these results because of the time lapse between the time police stopped you and when they asked you to consent to blood alcohol testing. Your BAC can actually increase as your body absorbs more alcohol. If you were just over the legal limit when officers tested you, you may have been below the legal limit while driving. With these arguments, we can often convince the judge to throw the evidence against you out.
Discuss Your Case with a DUI Lawyer in Pinellas County
Goldman Wetzel offers free case evaluations for those facing DUI charges in Pinellas County. Our DUI defense attorneys, who work together on every case, get to work quickly to protect your rights and help you put this whole ordeal behind you. Call us today at 727-828-3900 to schedule your complimentary consultation.