Defenses to DUI Charges in Florida
All US states have enacted harsh laws on drinking and driving, and Florida’s statute operates in similar fashion. You could be arrested for DUI if you were operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more, or if your normal faculties are impaired by consumption of alcohol. Under Florida’s law on driving under the influence of alcohol, you face up to 6 months in jail and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 for a first conviction. Plus, your driver’s license will be suspended, and you may need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
Considering these harsh penalties, you may wonder if there are defenses available in Florida drunk driving cases. In truth, there are always strategies for protecting your rights and advancing your interests. However, it takes high-level legal knowledge to recognize the defenses and determine what tactics will support your case. You can trust a Florida DUI defense attorney to explore all opportunities to fight the charges, but you might find it useful to review some options.
Contest the Stop: Unless there was a sobriety checkpoint operation that meets constitutional requirements, police must have a reason to pull you over. The legal standard is having a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated, and officers may meet it if you were swerving in traffic, violating traffic laws, or operating your vehicle in a questionable way. You could have a defense if your actions did not give police reasonable suspicion about drunk driving.
Defenses During Police Encounter: Once you are stopped, there are some possible defense opportunities based upon what transpires during the encounter. For instance, if you were arrested based upon the results of a portable breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests, there are strategies for getting these tossed from court. If officers believed you were drunk because of bloodshot eyes, your medical history of allergies could be useful.
Fighting BAC Test Results: If you were placed under arrest and taken into custody for a chemical test of your BAC level, it is possible to contest these test results as well. You may have a defense due to:
- Failure to properly maintain and repair the breathalyzer machine;
- Neglect with calibrating breathalyzer device;
- The operator’s lack of training or licensing; and,
- The breathalyzer machine being out of warranty.
Other Strategies: Even if you do not have a complete defense available in a Florida DUI case, there may be other options to help you avoid serious punishment. You may qualify for a first-time offender program, which is similar to probation. The charges are dropped when you complete the terms set by the court. It may also be possible to plea bargain, in which you plead guilty in exchange for reduced penalties.
Contact a South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer for Assistance
To learn more about the defenses available in a DUI case, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. to set up a consultation with a member of our team. You can reach our offices in Jupiter, FL by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting our website.