Miami DUI Attorney
Because driving under the influence is a leading cause of car accident fatalities, DUI laws in Florida are strictly enforced. Despite the public awareness of the perils of drunk driving, however, good people make mistakes. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it takes a skilled criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.
At Valiente Law, we have successfully defended hundreds of DUIs including dozens of DUI trial victories. We have extensive experience defending clients against DUI charges in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and throughout the state of Florida. While being pulled over and arrested is an unsettling experience, a conviction can be avoided. Our legal team will work diligently to assert any viable defenses in order to preserve your driving privileges and your reputation.
Penalties for DUIs in Florida are very severe even for a first-time offense and they enhance based on whether or not there was a crash involving property damage, bodily injury or even death of another person involved in the accident. For these types of cases, you can’t just call an attorney out of the phone book. What you need is someone who is highly technical, competent, and aggressive and able to handle DUIs the way that they should be handled. And that’s us. That’s Valiente Law. At Valiente Law, we have the experience, the knowledge and the capability to aggressively handle DUIs from pre-file to trial.
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Florida DUI Laws
In Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as either having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher or if your normal faculties are impaired and you are in actual physical control of a vehicle (the BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04). Additionally, you may still be still charged with driving under the influence even if your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit if the police:
- Make observations about your appearance or behavior
- Detect the odor of alcohol (or marijuana)
- Find an open container in your vehicle
You can even be charged with DUI if you are driving while impaired by prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication. There is also zero tolerance for driving under the influence by minors; individuals under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI, and have their license suspended, for having any detectable level of alcohol (.02 BAC) in their system.
Finally, under Florida’s “implied consent law,” anyone issued a driver’s license agrees to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test if stopped by the police for suspicion of DUI. If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, your license may be automatically suspended for up to 18 months. You only have 10 days after your arrest to request a formal administrative review hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Although this is an administrative proceeding separate and apart from the criminal case, it is crucial to be represented by an attorney who can contest the suspension. If you fail to request an administrative hearing within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended.
Florida DUI Penalties
DUI penalties in Florida are determined by factors such as your blood alcohol level, whether you have prior DUI convictions, and the age of any passengers in the car with you. A first offense DUI, for example, is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, 1-year probation, fines up to $500, at least 50 hours of community service, participation in a mandatory substance abuse course (DUI school) and a 10-day vehicle impoundment.
The penalties are enhanced, however, for having a BAC over .15 or for driving under the influence with a minor passenger in the vehicle. Finally, the punishments for second or multiple offenses become increasingly severe, including mandatory jail sentences, significant fines, license suspension, probation, enhanced DUI school, vehicle impoundment and mandatory use of an Interlock Ignition Device; penalty enhancements may also apply.
Other DUI offenses in Florida include:
- DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury — Occurs when a person driving under the influence causes or contributes to the serious personal injury of another. This offense is classified as a third-degree felony and carries penalties of up to 5 years in prison, or 5 years probation, and a $5,000 fine. There is also the potential of minimum mandatory sentencing under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, and the court may award restitution to compensate the victim for his or her losses.
- DUI Manslaughter — Occurs when a person driving under the influence causes or contributes to the death of another, including an unborn child. DUI Manslaughter is charged as either a first- or second-degree felony. A conviction could result in a minimum mandatory four-year prison sentence, maximum sentencing recommendations, and a $10,000 fine; vehicular homicide charges may also apply.
Defenses Against DUI Charges in Florida
If you have been charged with DUI, we will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the relevant facts of your arrest and work to challenge any sobriety exercises that have been administered:
- Field Sobriety Exercises — The one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus or HGN (following a stimulus with your eyes from left to right), are field sobriety exercises typically used to measure motor skills and coordination. Such exercises are inherently flawed, because results vary from person to person and are often based on the subjective determinations of the arresting officer.
- Breath Tests — The machine that police use for breath alcohol tests in Florida must be properly and regularly maintained by a properly certified technician or Breath Test Operator (BTO). Inaccurate results can occur if the machine is not properly calibrated, or when other factors, such as mouthwash or dental procedures, trigger a false positive result.
- Blood Tests — Tests administered to measure your blood alcohol level can be challenged if the blood sample was compromised by human error during collection, handling, testing or analysis. Police can only force you to give a blood sample for testing in limited situations. As such, blood test results are often successfully suppressed when police do not follow established law on obtaining the blood sample.
Need A DUI Lawyer in Miami? Call Now
At Valiente Law, we understand that driving is essential to your livelihood and your way of life. We also know that being convicted for a first offense DUI can have serious consequences, while a conviction for multiple offenses, or causing serious bodily injury or death, may result in a lengthy prison sentence and significant fines. With so much at stake, it is crucial to have a dedicated advocate in your corner and one who knows how to defend a DUI in Florida.
Whether your BAC was found to be over the legal limit, you failed a field sobriety exercise, or the police arrested you without probable cause, we will explore all of your options, and pursue the best line of defense. Above all, we will work tirelessly to preserve your driving privileges, your freedom, and your peace of mind.