Tampa DUI Lawyer
Effective defense for the best outcomes after a drunk driving arrest
You need your car; you don’t need a criminal record. Unfortunately, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida can lead to the immediate suspension of your driver’s license, and a conviction will leave you with costly fines, extensive disruptions in your life, and a criminal record that can prevent you from getting or keeping your job of choice. The best way to deal with a DUI arrest is to take your case to an experienced DUI defense attorney who can analyze your circumstances and advise you on your options. Throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties, call the Faulkner Law Group for a free case evaluation with a leading Tampa DUI defense lawyer.
Florida imposes a cascade of penalties for DUI
Many penalties are imposed upon conviction of DUI in Florida. For a first-time offense, fines can range from $500 to $1,000. You can be sentenced to up to 50 hours of community service, and your vehicle will be impounded for at least ten days. The court will also suspend your driver’s license for six months.
If you have a prior DUI conviction, or if other aggravating factors are present in your case, the penalties might be much more severe. In the worst cases, DUI can be charged as a third-degree felony, with punishment including up to five years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines.
You might have good, strong defenses to a DUI arrest
A DUI arrest is not something to take lying down. At the Faulkner Law Group, we’ll take a hard look at the facts in your case and all available defenses. Attorney David Faulkner is a licensed private investigator in addition to an experienced DUI defense attorney and former DUI prosecutor. We’ll evaluate your case, advise you on your options, and raise all applicable defense, such as:
- Did the police follow proper protocols when administering the breathalyzer and reading the results?
- Did the police have cause to stop you in the first place? Did they have cause to test you?
- Were you given Miranda warnings and other required warnings regarding the consequences of submitting to or refusing to take a test?
- Are there witnesses whose accounts differ from the police report?
Your license can be suspended if you don’t act fast
The court will only suspend your driver’s license if you are convicted of DUI. However, the DMV (DHSMV) will also move to suspend your license as soon as they are notified of your arrest. This six-month suspension takes place regardless of whether you are convicted in court or not. To get your license back, you’ll need to pay a host of reinstatement fees, and you might be required to retake the driver’s license test. The highest cost of all is probably the obscenely expensive car insurance you’ll be required to carry after a DUI arrest.
You have ten days to challenge this administrative suspension, known as Driving with an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level, or DUBAL. Act quickly and hire the Faulkner Law Group to request a Formal Review Hearing and possibly save your license from being suspended. We can also help you obtain a temporary driver’s license or hardship license if you qualify.
Florida DUI FAQs
As a misdemeanor prosecutor with the Florida State Attorney’s office, David Faulkner was recognized as the Prosecutor of the Year for his Circuit regarding driving under the influence (DUI) cases. The Faulkner Law Group brings a high level of knowledge and experience to the field of Florida DUI defense. See below for answers to frequently asked questions about DUI in Florida. If you have been arrested for DUI in Hillsborough, Pinellas, or throughout the greater Tampa area, contact the Faulkner Law Group for immediate assistance.
Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test?
By driving on Florida roads, you have given your implied consent to taking a breathalyzer when required by law enforcement. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer when ordered to by the police, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you have previously refused a breath test, then your license will be suspended for 18 months. In contrast, a first-time DUI conviction leads to a six-month driver’s license suspension. The fact that you refused a test can also be used against you if you are arrested for DUI and you take your case to trial.
The police can only require a breathalyzer if they had reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, as well as cause to test. These are matters for your lawyer, however, and you shouldn’t refuse a test on these grounds unless you want your license suspended for a year or more. If the police made you blow without sufficient cause, your criminal defense attorney could move to have the results of the test suppressed and likely get your case dismissed.
Do I have to take field sobriety tests?
Florida’s “implied consent” law only applies to a chemical test of your breath or blood-alcohol content, such as a breathalyzer. It doesn’t apply to so-called field sobriety exercises or field sobriety tests. You can lawfully refuse to take these tests without having your driver’s license suspended.
The police may try to get you to take any number of field sobriety tests. The three most common are:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – The officer moves a pen or flashlight across your field of vision and watches to see if your eye follows the movement smoothly or jerkily.
One-Leg Stand – You are made to stand on one foot with the other foot raised bout six inches off the ground. You are then ordered to count (one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, etc.) until you are told to stop. This test is supposed to last for 30 seconds. The officer observes your balance, speech, and other factors.
Walk-and-Turn – You are required to take nine steps in a straight line while touching heel to toe with each step. You then must turn on one foot and walk back the way you came. The police look to see if you touch heel to toe, if you use your arms to balance, how well you follow the instructions, and other factors.
Other tests include having to touch your finger to your nose with your arms outstretched, head tilted back and eyes closed, or being told to recite the alphabet.
The police will try to get you to take these tests and may not clearly inform you that your participation is voluntary. Instead, they will let you know that your refusal will be used against you in court. The “grading” of these tests is subjective, and the police use them to say they have grounds to arrest you and require you to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test. There is typically no good reason to take these tests, and the better course is usually to decline to participate.
If the police try to use your refusal against you in court, your attorney could make arguments that the police had no reasonable suspicion to stop you and no cause to compel you to take these tests. Your lawyer may be able to suppress any evidence about the tests, including your refusal to take them, or make strong arguments to the jury why these tests don’t prove intoxicated driving.
Can I be arrested for DUI if I’m not even driving?
Sometimes after a late night out, you might not feel safe driving home and may pull over to the side of the road to sleep. This action could save lives, but it might not avoid arrest. In Florida, you can be arrested for DUI if you are intoxicated over the legal limit and in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle. If you are in the car and capable of operating the vehicle (e.g., have the key, in the driver’s seat), this may count as having actual physical control. Whether you should have been arrested under these circumstances is a subjective question; call an experienced Tampa DUI defense lawyer to investigate and evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest.
Get the Right Kind of Help After a Tampa DUI Arrest
Attorney David Faulkner is a former Assistant State Attorney who was recognized as the Prosecutor of the Year in his Judicial Circuit for DUI cases. The Faulkner Law Group will work to get the best outcome in your drunk driving arrest, including helping you keep your license and avoid the most serious consequences of a Tampa DUI conviction.
For immediate advice and assistance after a DUI arrest in Tampa or communities throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco & Polk County, call the Faulkner Law Group at 813-544-3919 for a free consultation.