DUI Attorney St. Petersburg FL
Nobody wants to think about getting pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI). Getting arrested and spending time in jail is not something anyone plans on or looks forward to. If you have been pulled over for DUI in St. Petersburg, then you will want a diligent and successful DUI defense attorney representing you at all of your court appearances.
Implied Consent Laws
The Division of Motor Vehicles is very strict about who they allow on the road in order to prevent public disasters. When you initially get your driver’s license or renew it, you sign a statement agreeing to obey all traffic laws. You not only agree to obey all traffic laws but also to submit to a sobriety test. These include a breath, blood, or urine test which will determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) concentration, as well as the concentration of any other drugs present in your body.
Florida’s “Actual Physical Control” Laws
Most people know that it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but many people don’t know that you can be arrested for DUI even when your motor isn’t running. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or more and you have the capability to drive, such as having the key in the ignition, then you can be convicted of a DUI for being in “actual physical control” of your vehicle under Florida’s Section 316.193. Even if you fall asleep in your vehicle and the motor is off, and the vehicle is in Park, you can still be arrested for a DUI if the key is in the ignition.
Penalties for DUI Offenses
The consequences for DUI increase after each subsequent offense. Any previous DUI convictions that you have received within 10 years of the date of your arrest will be considered in your charges. If you received any DUI convictions in any other U.S. states, then those will also count against you when considering your consequences.
- First-time DUI: Consequences include fines between $500 in $2,000, up to six months in jail, a suspended license for at least six months, 50 community service hours, and completion of a drug and alcohol education program. If your BAC was level was .15 or higher or if there was a minor in your car when you were arrested, then you can possibly serve up to nine months in jail.
- Second offense: Consequences include fines between $1,000 and $2,000, but if your BAC level was .15 or higher, or you had a minor in your car, then your fines will range from $2,000 to $4,000. If your BAC concentration was greater than .08 but less than .15, then you will serve a minimum of up to nine months in jail. But if your BAC was higher, then you can spend up to one year in jail. This increases to five years if there was serious bodily harm caused to anyone. Your license will also be suspended for at least five years. The installation of an ignition interlock device will be required.
- Third offense: On your third offense, you spend at least 30 days in jail with a maximum of five years in jail. Your fines will range from $2,000-$10,000 and will lose your driver’s license for at least 10 years. An ignition interlock device will be installed on your vehicle for at least two years. If you have been arrested for your third DUI offense, then you are facing serious consequences that can affect the rest of your life.
Field Sobriety Tests
Three assessments make up the standard field sobriety test:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN): The effect of alcohol on the human eye is to cause it to become “jerky.” When you try to follow an object with your eyes, alcohol will inhibit their smooth pursuit. This is what officers are looking for when they hold a flashlight to your eyes.
- One-Leg-Stand test: You will be asked to lift one leg and balance for 30 seconds with your hands at your sides.
- The Walk-and-Turn test: The officer will ask you to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, heel-to-toe for nine steps, then to pivot and walk back.
These standard procedures need to be carried out with professionalism. If you believe officers failed to follow proper procedure and need a DUI defense attorney, then call Christopher M. Sierra, P.A. to talk about your options.
Your St. Petersburg DUI Defense Lawyer
According to Florida State law, a police officer can only pull you over and arrest you for a DUI if they are reasonably suspicious that you are driving while impaired. In a 2011 Florida Supreme Court ruling that changed drunk driving laws, it is against your rights to be required to submit to a test if there is no probable cause to pull you over.
If you believe that the test results were botched due to the breathalyzer being improperly calibrated, or the technician’s incompetence during the blood test, then you will need to speak to an experienced and successful defense attorney. Christopher M. Sierra, P.A. is a diligent DUI Lawyer in St. Petersburg with years of experience in the courtroom. He will fight for you by any means necessary, including bringing in an expert witness, who is a specialist in a certain field that can testify on your behalf. For example, a doctor can explain how a test result could have been affected by prescription medications, thus skewing results. These experts and other resources can be acquired to build a strong defense for you. So call Christopher M. Sierra, P.A. today!