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Driving Under the Influence

Everyone makes mistakes. If you have been stopped and subsequently arrested for DUI, it is understandable that you are scared and confused. After getting pulled over until the time you are released from jail, there will be little explanation about the DUI arrest process from police. If you have been arrested for DUI, you need an attorney to protect and guide you through the process.

Law Enforcement and The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

In Florida, there are two parts of a DUI case. The first part is conducted by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) which deals with the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. The second part is the criminal case brought against you by the arresting agency. These two parts will run concurrently, but are completely independent. If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, you have 10 calendar days from the date of arrest to request a Formal Review Hearing with the DHSMV. If you take no action, you will lose your license for thirty days. Be proactive in this process and contact the office of Arica L. Braaten, P.A. at (954) 380-6000

If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, called a refusal, then your license will be suspended by the DMV for six months if it’s your first refusal and 18 months for second and subsequent refusals. Your license becomes officially suspended 10 days after your DUI arrest. It is important to act fast, hire an attorney at this time and request a formal review hearing. For a first time refusal, you are eligible for a hardship license after serving 90 days of your license suspension. 90 days without a license can feel like an eternity in a city like Fort Lauderdale where using public transportation can be a headache. For a second or subsequent refusal, however, DMV will not give you any license at all until the full 18 months has been served. It is important to seek help from an attorney as soon as possible.

In preparation for the formal review hearing, our office typically gets a packet of police reports and affidavits from the driver’s license bureau. Unfortunately, sometimes the packet doesn’t arrive before the hearing. If after reviewing the documents, my office discovers that the arresting officer made a legal mistake in handling the DUI arrest I will argue the results in the packet at the formal review hearing. If the administrative review hearing official agrees, then I may be able to get the administrative drivers license suspension tossed out. However, if the officer did a complete job we may still subpoena him for the administrative hearing. If the officer shows up, my office can use this valuable time to get information from the officer to build our defense on the criminal charge. If the officer does not show up, I can ask that the DMV reinstate his client’s driver’s license. In that case, the driver would immediately receive his full unrestricted license back.

It’s not just a refusal that can get you into trouble with the DMV. If your breathalyzer result is over a .08, then DMV will suspend your license for 6 months. However, you are eligible for a hardship license after 30 days of your license suspension. Every case is different and there isn’t one magic strategy to prevent your license from getting suspended. It important to speak with the Deerfield Beach Office of Arica L. Braaten, P.A. at (954) 380-6000 to assist you though this difficult time.

THE CRIMINAL PROCEEDING

Simultaneously with the DMV process is the criminal proceeding. The first court date is the arraignment, where the accused is given notice of the charge against him, and typically will learn of the sanctions sought in their case. After arraignment, there will likely be several pre-trial conferences during which the court is given updates as to the status of the case. Finally, the last stage of the criminal process is a trial with the trier of fact being either the Judge or Jury.

In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI if the State Attorney’s Office can prove that a person was driving with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or above or if you were driving with your normal faculties were impaired. DUI investigations often start with a police officer noticing “abnormal driving behavior” which the police officer thinks is caused by impairment. This behavior may be classified as driving too slow, weaving or driving over a curb. A police officer can also pull you over for a traffic infraction or malfunctioning equipment (i.e. broken tail light), both of which are grounds for a legal stop. Upon making contact, the police officer will look for certain signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes, flushed cheeks, smell of alcohol or slurred speech. If the police officer confirms his suspicions, you will be requested to step out of your vehicle to conduct road side sobriety tests.

The results of the road side sobriety tests could be the difference between reckless driving charge and a drunk driving charge. Don’t let a failed field sobriety test prevent you from fighting a DUI charge. These tests are not an exact science and aren’t a clear indication of being intoxicated. Many things can affect field sobriety tests such as medication, a preexisting medical problem, or even having the tests administered on wet or uneven ground. The office of Arica L. Braaten, P.A. will thoroughly review police reports and videos of your arrest and find out what really happened. Contact the office today via email or by phone at (954

Additionally, our office will look at any other biological stresses that may have impacted your driving ability or the field test performance. In all DUI cases we study all the police paperwork, to ensure that the documents were properly and completely filled out.

Every case has a different set of facts and circumstances and thus several ways of defense in a DUI case. In your defense we will examine the validity of the traffic stop, the administration of the breath test, the DUI video, including field sobriety tests (if any) and your overall appearance and recorded behavior. Our office takes DUI cases and so should you. Contact Arica L. Braaten at (954) 380-6000

STATUTORY CRIMINAL PENALTIES

The following information is intended as a general guide to possible penalties for DUI in Florida. The following information is not designed to represent the comprehensive body of statutes and case law that deal with the broad topic of DUI Law in Florida. As with any criminal charge, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is strongly recommended.

A regular first time DUI conviction carries a maximum of six months in the county jail. At the minimum, a conviction results in fines and court costs that approach $1000.00, probation of up to one year. Your DUI license will be suspended for at least six months, and up to one year. Your car will be impounded for ten days. And as a condition of your probation, you will be required to complete costly DUI School, Alcohol Evaluation and treatment if necessary, no alcohol bars or clubs while on probation, and 50 community service hours. Including the cost to your car insurance premiums, the cost of a first time DUI conviction can quickly approach $5000.00.

A first time DUI with a breathalyzer, urine or blood BAC of .15 or higher has enhanced penalties. The Drunken driving charge is now punishable by 9 months in the county jail. At a minimum, the fines and court costs exceed $1500.00. Also included is 6 months of the extremely costly ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

A second Drunk Driving conviction within five years of a prior conviction carries a mandatory ten days in the county jail as part of the drunken driving penalties. Your car must be impounded for 30 days. The driver’s license suspension is for five years, and the fine for a second drunk driving conviction where the breathalyzer, blood, or urine BAC is over .15 is in excess of $2500.00. A two year ignition interlock device is required.

A third Drunk Driving conviction within 10 years of a prior conviction can be a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, with a minimum mandatory of 30 days in the county jail. Your license will now be suspended for 10 years. The fine for a breathalyzer, blood, or urine BAC in excess of .15 is over $4500.00.

A fourth conviction for Drunk Driving is also punishable by 5 years in prison. Your Florida Drivers license will be permanently revoked.

A DUI conviction is a serious matter and you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Broward Office of Arica L. Braaten, P.A. at (954) 380-6000 to discuss your case.