In 2015, there were 3,336 DUI citations issued throughout Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located. Often, drivers do not challenge DUI charges, not understanding that there may be long-term consequences and that a conviction results in a criminal record. You can face stiff penalties if you are convicted of a DUI. There is an implied consent law in Florida, whereby when you sign your driver's license, you agree to take chemical tests to determine your blood alcohol content upon request by a law enforcement officer. However, you should not assume that you will be convicted simply because you agreed to a BAC test. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg DUI lawyer Will Hanlon protects the rights of the accused and can evaluate your situation to determine a defense strategy.Driving Under the Influence Charges
Under Florida Statute section 316.193, you can be convicted of a DUI if the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle in Florida, and either you were under the influence of alcohol or specified chemical substances to the extent that you were impaired, or you had a BAC of .08. In other words, you can be convicted of drunk driving for being impaired and in a car, but you can also be convicted if you had at least a specific blood alcohol or breath alcohol content.
In most cases, if you are convicted of a first DUI, it is a misdemeanor. This means that you face the possibility of a $500-1,000 fine and imprisonment for a maximum of six months. In many cases, you will not actually go to jail but get probation. However, the penalties increase for a second conviction. In addition to increased jail time and fines, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device for at least one year. You need to pay for the cost of installing this device.
For a third DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction, the penalties are substantially greater because this is charged as a third-degree felony, similar to a drug crime or a more serious type of offense. This means that you face the possibility of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Additionally, the court will order the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least two years. A third DUI that happens outside the 10-year look back period can result in a fine of $2,000-$5,000 and going to prison for at least 12 months, as well as a two-year period during which you must have an ignition interlock device installed. You should consult a DUI attorney in St. Petersburg without delay if you are facing a third DUI charge.
A fourth or higher DUI is a third-degree felony. The minimum fine imposed is $2,000, and you will be required to install an ignition interlock device.
When your DUI causes a serious bodily injury to somebody else, you can be convicted of a third-degree felony. If the DUI results in the death of a human being or someone's unborn child, you can be charged with DUI manslaughter. This is a second-degree felony. However, it can be charged as a first-degree felony in a hit and run situation, if you knew or should have known that the crash happened but did not stop and give help and information as legally required. The court must impose a mandatory minimum imprisonment term of four years for a DUI manslaughter conviction. However, a DUI lawyer in St. Petersburg can help you try to minimize the penalties by presenting your side of the story.
When your DUI involves a BAC of .15 or higher, or you had a minor in the car, you can be punished by a $1,000-$2,000 fine plus nine months’ imprisonment for a first conviction, $2,000-$4,000 plus 12 months’ imprisonment for a second conviction, and harsher penalties for any later convictions.
You may also need to complete a substance abuse course and complete probation, with the condition that you participate in community work or public service as part of the probation. Your car can also be impounded or immobilized.
A conviction is not inevitable. There may be procedural or Constitutional violations associated with the pre-arrest period or the arrest that can result in a successful motion to suppress. In other cases, there may have been issues with the lab that processed your chemical test or issues of officer credibility.Consult a Knowledgeable St. Petersburg DUI Attorney
If you are charged with a DUI, you should consult our criminal defense firm. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are dedicated to guarding the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.