Pinellas County DUI Lawyer

Being arrested in Clearwater or St. Petersburg for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a more serious offense than you might think. If you are convicted, you will face far-reaching consequences that will negatively affect your life. Hence, you might want to speak to our Pinellas County DUI lawyers to start working on your defense.

Florida DUI laws are very strict. In other words, DUI offenses mean potential jail time, hefty fines, vehicle impound, among other severe penalties. Despite these challenges, having an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side might help you overcome these charges.

DUI Charges in Florida

In Florida, it is a crime to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle if the person’s normal faculties are affected by the influence of alcoholic or a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine or prescribed pills. Violating this is classified as a DUI offense.

The Florida Statute § 316.193 establishes that a person is considered to be under the influence, if their blood or breath alcohol content surpasses the following levels:

  • 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
  • 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 200 liters of breath

Exceeding these levels can affect your abilities to drive a vehicle in a safe manner for you and others. As a result, if law enforcement finds you operating or in physical control of the vehicle under the influence, you can be arrested for DUI or BUI in Pinellas County. If this occurs, you should contact an attorney immediately for help.

Reckless Driving vs DUI in Florida

Given that both offenses involve a vehicle, some people assume that DUI and reckless driving are the same. In Florida, a person that drives any vehicle disregarding the safety of others or property is guilty of reckless driving. A DUI offense is not automatically considered reckless driving

Overall, reckless driving carries lesser penalties than a DUI charge. As a result, if you have a strong defense, one potential outcome is that your DUI lawyer might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges to reckless driving.

An arrest for DUI can raise numerous questions about your rights and the legal options available for your case. Pinellas County attorneys experienced in DUI cases will be on your side at each stage of the process.

DUI Sanctions in Pinellas County

In Florida, the sanctions for DUI increase based on certain factors such as the number of previous DUI convictions, the defendant’s BAC level, whether there was property damage or injured victims, among other factors.

Overall, first and second DUI offenses are considered misdemeanors. First time offenders can face:

  • Pay probation fines
  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • Up to six months of jail time
  • 50 hours of community service
  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • Six months up to 1 years of license suspension
  • Probation that, in combination with jail time, does not exceed one year

These penalties can increase to 9 months of jail and a fine between $1,000 – $2,000 if the defendant is found to have had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.15 or higher.

On the other hand, a 2nd DUI offense is also a misdemeanor but carries more severe penalties:

  • Probation
  • Fine between $1,000 – $2,000
  • Up to five years of license suspension
  • Placement of an ignition interlock device
  • Fine between $2,000 – $4,000 if you had a BAC level of 0.15 or higher
  • 9 months in jail or up to 1 year if your level of alcohol was 0.15 or higher
  • Mandatory imprisonment of minimum 10 days if the 2nd offense occurred within 5 years

In Florida, the penalties for DUI third offenses depend on whether these crimes occurred within or outside 10 years since the previous conviction:

Fourth offenses are considered third-degree felonies. These charges carry a maximum $5,000 fine, up to five years imprisonment, probation and a permanent driver’s license revocation.

Other DUI related offenses

Other crimes associated with DUI include:

DUI Manslaughter

Florida Statute § 316.193 establishes that if while driving under the influence, a person causes the death of another human being or unborn child, he or she is guilty of DUI manslaughter. This offense is considered a second-degree felony which carries up to 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

A DUI manslaughter in Florida can escalate to a first-degree felony if, at the moment of the accident, the offender failed to provide help or give information such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle’s registration number

If the accident did not result in the death of the person, but it did cause serious bodily injury to another, you might face a third-degree felony charge. This is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment.

DUI with Property Damage

In Florida, DUI with property damage is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that if convicted, a culprit can face 1 year of jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000.

All DUI offenses face mandatory attendance to a DUI school, probation, vehicle impoundment, driver’s license suspension and the loss of the right to own, possess or buy a gun. Since these consequences can affect your daily life, you should speak to the DUI attorneys at Goldman Wetzel in Pinellas County.

Violating DUI Probation

DUI convictions carry mandatory probation. In most cases, the length of this sentence ranges from 6 months to one year. If the person does not obey the conditions of the probation, he or she will be rearrested for the initial charges or new charges if another offense was committed during this time.

Examples of violating a DUI probation in Pinellas County include:

  • Not completing DUI school
  • Failing to pay probation fines
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Failure to complete community service duties
  • Failing to attend the monthly meetings with your probation officer

A DUI violation of probation results in severe consequences. For starters, your arrest warrant can establish that you cannot pay a bond to leave jail until your court date. A criminal defense attorney can file motions to request the judge to set a bond.

Speak to our Pinellas County DUI Lawyers

A DUI charge in Florida can be an overwhelming experience if you take into account the potential penalties that you could face. Hence, you should consider retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer that knows how to deal with these charges.

Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients facing DUI charges in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo, Palm Harbor, Pinellas County, and surrounding areas.

If you have been arrested for DUI charges in St. Petersburg, speak to the experienced attorneys at Goldman Wetzel. Schedule a free consultation with our DUI attorneys in Pinellas County by sending a message or calling us directly at (727) 828-3900.