A good Orlando DUI lawyer may be just be the only way you can minimize the disturbance a DUI charge can have in your life. DUI laws have become more strict throughout the country over the past decade. Florida is no exception, as its current legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08%, down from the previous limit of 0.1%. There are also increased penalties in Florida for a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.15%. The first step to fighting a DUI conviction is knowing about the offense and what penalties you face.
To be pulled over under suspicion of DUI, a police officer must recognize some sort of pattern in your driving that indicates possible intoxication, or must have seen you violate some other traffic law. Common reasons for pulling a driver over on suspicion of DUI include: swerving, crossing the center line, irregular speeding up or slowing down, and braking heavily. Once pulled over, an officer will proceed to converse with the driver to determine if the suspicion of DUI is warranted. If so, a field sobriety or breathalyzer test may be performed.
In a field sobriety test, a driver will be asked to perform several physical and/or cognitive tasks that those who are under the influence typically have a difficult time performing. The skills tested include: ability to follow an object with one’s eyes, the ability to walk in a straight line, the ability to stand on one leg, and the ability to touch one’s nose with one’s finger. The driver may also be asked to perform simple cognitive tasks like repeating the alphabet.
A police officer may request a breathalyzer test of a driver who he or she suspects to be under the influence. A breathalyzer gives an estimate of BAC from an individual’s breath. BAC’s provide evidence that is admissible in court, but it is not foolproof. A breathalyzer tells, for example, BAC at the time of the test but the BAC during driving may have been different. Additionally, breathalyzers are not infallible devices, and are sensitive to temperature, breath rate, and blood cell volume. A reasonable margin of error of about 15-20% has also been demonstrated with most breathalyzer devices. Most breathalyzers used by police departments require re-calibration every six months, and failure to do so may result in inaccurate readings. Thus, an Orlando DUI lawyer may still be able to mount an effective defense in the face of incriminating breathalyzer evidence.
Another option for obtaining your BAC is by having you take a blood test. A blood test is generally thought to be much more accurate than a breathalyzer. But even in blood testing, errors can occur. A test may be improperly performed, samples may be mixed up, refrigeration problems, etc. Regardless of the method of testing, a good Orlando DUI lawyer can find a potential error in the testing process and capitalize on it.
If you are accused of DUI, you may be put in a holding cell for some time for you to “sober up.” You may be held up to 8 hours after the arrest, or until your BAC is below 0.05% and/or you are not showing any signs of impairment. Your car will be towed to a local garage and impounded for a period of 10 days unless you can prove the car is necessary to your family for transportation. You will be arraigned and a court date will be set. Before your court date, there will be an administrative hearing where it is decided if your license will be suspended until your court date. All of these very negative events occur fairly quickly after your arrest, thus it’s important to contact an Orlando DUI lawyerimmediately to obtain proper advice and counsel on how to respond to your charges.
The penalties for DUI can be severe, and for this reason entering the hearing without proper representation can be unwise. A first conviction of DUI will result in fines of at least $500 and up to $1000. If you have a BAC of 0.15 or higher (or a minor in the vehicle), fines will range from $1000-2000. If convicted, there is a mandatory of 50 hours of community service imposed and a potential prison term of up to 6 months. There is also a minimum 180-day license suspension associated with a first conviction. Second and third convictions become much more severe. For a second conviction, fines increase to $1,000-2,000 and a potential prison term of up to 9 months. A third conviction brings with it fines $2,000-5,000 and a possible 1 year prison term.
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If convicted of DUI, you may face other complications as well. You may be placed on probation, which limits your ability to travel, makes you subject to monitoring and random drug testing, etc. You may also be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed. This device requires that you blow into it before your car will start. It analyzes your breath in the same manner a breathalyzer does, and if there is alcohol on your breath, the car will not start. Additionally, a DUI can have a significant impact on your insurance rates and coverage. Some companies will not be inclined to provide automobile insurance if you have multiple DUIs on your record, and others will provide it at drastically increased rates.
The potential penalties that come with a DUI conviction make obtaining an Orlando DUI attorney after your arrest a necessity. While police officers will make your arrest seem straightforward and unquestionable, a good lawyer will be able to detect potential errors made in the process of pulling you over and/or administering your DUI test. A DUI conviction can be a major disturbance in your life, and frequently a lawyer can get the penalties greatly reduced if they cannot avoid a conviction altogether. A DUI lawyer also can be especially effective in limiting the effect of exacerbating details surrounding your arrest (if you had a high BAC, for example). If you should happen to find yourself in a situation where you’ve been arrested for DUI, be sure to contact an Orlando DUI lawyer, it might make all the difference.
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