Jacksonville DUI Attorneys for Those Charged With a First-Time DUIFighting Florida Driving Under the Influence Charges
Charged With Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
If you’re in Jacksonville facing DUI charges, you can’t afford to take a “wait and see” attitude and hope for the best. The penalties for a Florida DUI can be serious, and the cost often extends far beyond the consequences imposed by the court. It’s important to educate yourself about your rights and options before taking any action.
Additionally, a first time DUI arrest here in Jacksonville typically has two parts you’ll want to address—an administrative side and a criminal side. The administrative side to a DUI deals with your privilege to drive, and decisions regarding how to handle this aspect of the case must be made within ten days of a DUI arrest. As such, time is of the essence in terms of finding the right attorney to assist you with a first time DUI. Furthermore, the criminal side of a DUI case deals with your liberty and your criminal history, and can impact your livelihood or privilege to drive. So again, having an experienced and knowledgeable counsel is of paramount importance.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced First-Time DUI Attorney
At Lufrano Legal, P.A., we understand how stressful facing criminal charges can be. We also know how important it is that you have reliable information and knowledgeable guidance as you make critical decisions for your future. That’s why we offer free, no-obligation consultations to people charged with driving under the influence in and around Jacksonville, Florida.
Cases of First-Time DUI Offenses in Florida
DUI arrests are common throughout Florida and within the Jacksonville area. In 2019, there were nearly 34,000 arrests for driving under the influence statewide. Nearly 1,800 of those arrests took place in Duval County. Additionally, the vast majority of those arrests are first-time DUIs.
Unfortunately, the high number of first time DUI arrests may also mean that those facing these charges are unsure about their options, about potential defenses, and about the impacts DUIs can have on one’s life, since even a single DUI conviction can be expensive and carry long-term consequences.
Two Types of DUI Charges in Florida
Most people know that it’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08% or greater. Further, while some Florida DUI charges are based on a chemical test that shows a person’s alcohol content exceeds the legal limit, it is possible to be charged with and convicted of driving under the influence without such a chemical test.
To obtain a DUI conviction without a chemical test showing a BAL of .08 or greater, the prosecution must prove that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or another chemical or controlled substance and was “affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.”
Penalties for a First-Offense DUI in Florida
A first-offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor in Florida and the State legislature has imposed mandatory minimum sentences for any DUI conviction. These mandatory minimum penalties for DUIs get more harsh depending on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has and how recent those prior convictions occurred.
The minimum sentence allowable under the law for a first time DUI in Florida is as follows:
- A conviction for the offense (also known as an Adjudication of Guilt)
- At least six months of probation
- A six month driver’s license suspension
- Attend and complete DUI School
- Attend a Victim Impact Panel
- 50 hours of community service
- 10-day vehicle impoundment or immobilization
- A fine of at least $500.00
- Court costs
- Time served (which means no additional jail time)
The court may impose other consequences, as well. For example, a person convicted of driving under the influence may be required to attend alcohol counseling or be subject to drug and alcohol monitoring.
Ignition interlock devices—devices that test the driver’s BAL before starting the vehicle—could be imposed as well. And those are just the direct consequences. Even a first-offense DUI conviction can have a significant impact in other ways, such as:
- Substantial increase in automobile insurance rates
- Impact on employment in some fields
Of course, actual penalties vary. Many people serve no jail time at all for first offense DUIs. Some of the factors that may impact consequences include:
- How high the driver’s alcohol content was
- How the driver interacted with police
- Whether the driver has a prior criminal record
- Any weaknesses in the case the DUI lawyer identifies
Other Factors That May Increase Penalties for a First-Time DUI
While jail time for a basic first-offense DUI in Florida is capped at six months and the fine capped at $1,000, some first-time DUIs may carry more severe penalties.
For instance, if the driver’s blood or breath alcohol level is 0.15 or greater, the maximum possible jail sentence is increased to nine months instead of six. And, the fine is increased from $500-$1,000 for a standard first offense to $1,000-$2,000.
More significantly, DUIs that involve traffic crashes may be classified as more serious crimes and may carry enhanced penalties, depending on the harm done. For instance:
- If property is damaged or a person injured by the intoxicated driver, the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail
- Or if the driver, regardless of whether this is a first time DUI, causes serious bodily injury to another person, the crime is a felony in the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison
If someone is killed, the crime is charged as DUI manslaughter, which may be either a first degree or second degree felony. As a second degree felony DUI manslaughter carries a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison, while a first degree felony DUI manslaughter carries a sentence of up to thirty years in prison. Additionally, regardless of how an offense of DUI manslaughter is charged, if convicted it carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years.
Defending Against DUI Charges in Jacksonville
The right approach to a DUI case differs depending on both the specifics of the case and the priorities of the person facing charges. The right Jacksonville DUI attorney will thoroughly assess the case and talk to you about your goals and any specific concerns you have.
Whether you are hoping to negotiate a favorable plea agreement and move on or fight the charges in the courtroom, the first steps are the same. For you, the process starts with finding the right attorney—an attorney who will evaluate the case for weaknesses such as:
- A faulty stop
- Jurisdictional issues
- Improper detention
- Questions about the reliability of the chemical testing or the way it was administered
- Gaps or contradictions in the evidence
- Any video or audio-video footage
These weaknesses can help your case regardless of the approach you take.
If you choose to go to trial, that same investigation will provide the basis for potential motions to suppress evidence, effective cross-examination, and the development of a theory of defense. Unfortunately, not every attorney is ready and willing to take a DUI case to trial.
Attorney Matthew Lufrano is a board-certified expert in criminal trial law, and has tried more than 75 criminal cases before Florida juries. He and his staff are committed to thoroughly assessing your case and your circumstances and finding the best approach for you.
Schedule Your Free First-Time DUI Consultation Now
During your free consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and gather information about the penalties you may be facing, your possible defenses, and your options. But, that’s not the only benefit of a free consultation. The consultation provides a risk-free way for you to get to know the criminal defense attorney, and to see Mr. Lufrano’s in-depth knowledge and passion for criminal defense first hand.