Orlando DUI Lawyer

As leading DUI lawyers in Central Florida, we’ve successfully defended countless clients and secured the best possible outcomes for their DUI cases. If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, schedule an appointment with our law firm to start defending your future. 

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes — especially when alcohol is involved. Certain errors in judgment, however, are more costly than others, including the decision to drink and drive. Being arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can devastate every aspect of your life and jeopardize your personal, professional, and social relationships. 

That being said, it’s important to recognize that not everyone who is charged with a DUI is guilty. Most people automatically assume that DUI charges are based on rock-solid evidence, viewing them as ‘no smoke without fire’ situations. The reality, however, is that individuals are routinely charged with crimes, including DUI, that they didn’t commit. Unfortunately, that fact won’t protect them from incurring serious, life-upending legal penalties. 

If you’ve been charged with driving a motor vehicle under the influence in Florida, you need to do everything in your power to avoid conviction. Don’t worry — Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense is here to help. This article will explain everything you need to know about DUI charges in Florida, possible penalties, common DUI defense strategies, and more. 

Why You Should Consider Hiring an Orlando DUI Lawyer

The State of Florida takes DUIs seriously, and if convicted, you’ll face a range of severe legal penalties and other consequences. You may lose your job and your driver’s license, or you may struggle to keep your job and maintain personal relationships. Ultimately, the price for conviction is simply too high to take whatever criminal defense lawyer you’re given.

Fortunately, you don’t have to: The Orlando DUI defense lawyers at Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense are ready to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. We’ll use our vast resources, years of experience, and unparalleled expertise to provide you with a top-tier defense strategy as we work to have your criminal charges dropped or reduced.

Every accused person deserves access to high-quality legal services, but that’s not always what they get. Public defenders are some of the smartest, most generous attorneys around, but the truth is that the majority of them are so overworked that providing you with an individualized, robust legal defense strategy simply isn’t feasible — which is why you should consider hiring an Orlando DUI attorney from Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense.

What Is the Florida DUI Law?

In the State of Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined under Florida Statutes Section 316.193. It refers to driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state and meeting at least one of the following conditions:

  • Impairment: being under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance outlined in Section 877.111, or any controlled substance under Chapter 893 to the extent that normal faculties are impaired.
  • Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC): driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.
  • Breath-alcohol level: having a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

Keep in mind that under this legal definition, a driver does not have to be visibly impaired or driving erratically to meet the criteria for DUI. If their blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level is above the legal limit, or if a law enforcement officer deems them as impaired, they can be charged with a DUI. Additionally, it’s important  to understand that DUIs apply to drugs and controlled substances, not just alcohol.

Examples of Driving Under the Influence

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If you’re confused about why you were charged with a DUI, you’re no different than many Floridians. Many drivers believe that DUIs only apply to alcohol impairment, but that’s not true. Here are a few examples of non-alcohol-related DUIs in Florida:

  • Prescription drug impairment. If you are driving while impaired by a prescription drug that causes drowsiness, dizziness, or other impairing side effects, you can be charged with a DUI in Florida — even if the medication was legally prescribed to you.
  • Illicit drug impairment. Driving while cognitively or physically impaired by illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, can also result in a DUI charge.
  • Over-the-counter medication impairment. Certain over-the-counter medications, such as some allergy medications and antihistamines, can cause drowsiness and impair driving, resulting in a DUI charge.

At the end of the day, consuming anything that could slow your reaction time, cause drowsiness, and impair your ability to properly operate a vehicle can result in a DUI charge. However, DUI charges that result from an honest medication mistake or ignorance are typically much easier to fight that DUIs resulting from overconsumption of alcohol or illegal drug usage.

Florida Penalties for DUI – Driving Under the Influence 

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Drivers convicted of a DUI in Florida can face a wide range of potential penalties, the severity of which depend largely on whether or not they are a repeat offender. Below we will discuss some of the penalties associated with first, second, third, and subsequent criminal offenses.

First Offense

If this is your first DUI offense, you could face jail time for up to six months — or up to nine months if your BAC was 0.15 or higher at the time of your arrest. You may also be forced to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,000 in fines, complete 50 hours of community service, attend a 12-hour DUI school program, and serve probation for up to one year.

Second Offense

For your second DUI offense, you may be fined between $1,000 and $4,000, depending on how high your BAC was at the time of your DUI arrest. You may also be sentenced to up to nine months in jail — or up to 12 months if your BAC was 0.15 or higher or if there was a minor in the vehicle. You will likely be required to complete a 21-hour DUI school program and be forced to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for at least one year.

Third Offense

For the third DUI offense, you could pay between $2,000 and $5,000, be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail (or up to five years in prison if it is considered a third-degree felony DUI), and have your driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 10 years if your third offense is within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction. You may also be referred to a substance abuse treatment program and be required to use an IID for at least two years.

Fourth and Subsequent Offenses

If you are facing a fourth or subsequent DUI offense, you’re in a world of legal trouble. You will pay a minimum fine of $2,000 and likely be charged with a third-degree felony, which comes with a prison sentence of up to five years. You will also be referred to a substance abuse treatment program and be required to use an IID in your vehicle for at least five years.

Regardless of whether it’s your first, second, third, or fourth offense, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended. A first conviction carries a minimum six month conviction; a second conviction is a minimum suspension of five years; a third conviction is a minimum suspension of 10 years; and a fourth conviction is a permanent, life-long license suspension without any hardship considerations.

What Is the Best Defense for Driving Under the Influence in Florida?

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As experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense in Orlando, Florida, we understand it’s essential to explore the various legal defenses available to individuals facing DUI charges. In many cases, successfully defending against a DUI charge hinges on challenging the prosecution’s evidence and procedures, but the best DUI strategy for any given case depends on the specific circumstances of the individual and the incident. We will discuss a few potential legal defense strategies below.

Your Driving Was Not Affected by Alcohol

We can explain that you were not drunk driving or impaired by alcohol, and you were driving safely and obeying traffic laws at the time of the traffic stop. Perhaps you have a medical condition that mimics certain signs of intoxication, such as a neurological disorder or diabetes. Either way, witness testimony from other passengers can go a long way in bolstering this defense strategy.

Field Sobriety Tests Are Poor Tools to Measure Alcohol Impairment

We can also argue that field sobriety tests (FSTs) are subjective and often inaccurate, which they are. Various factors affect reliability, including poor lighting and uneven surfaces during its administration, as well as the driver’s physical condition, injuries, and disabilities. Additionally, a police officer’s interpretation of FST results can be highly subjective and inconsistent, revealing harmful biases. Lastly, weather conditions, including heavy rain and wind, can impact FST results, which dashcam video evidence can be helpful in determining.

The Police Failed to Follow Proper Procedures

Law enforcement officers failed to follow proper procedures, resulting in an unlawful traffic stop or the improper administration of breathalyzer tests or FSTs. Perhaps they neglected to read your Miranda rights upon arrest, violating your constitutional rights, or maybe law enforcement officers mishandled and compromised evidence. Any of these failures can impact the final outcome of your DUI case.

Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense: Leading DUI Lawyers in Florida

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Navigating a DUI charge requires a strategic approach that leverages the circumstances of your case and top-quality legal defenses effectively. When you partner with an Orlando criminal defense attorney from Sergio Cruz Criminal Defense, you can rest assured that your case will be handled with the utmost level of professionalism and competence. Ready to approach your DUI charge with confidence? Contact our law office to explore your legal options today.

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