How Can You Fight a DUI Without an Attorney?
If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, you could face severe penalties, including license revocation, heavy fines, and jail time. It’s understandable if you’re worried about finances right now, and you might think the most cost-effective option is to fight the charges yourself instead of hiring a lawyer. However, due to the complexities of Florida’s DUI laws, it can be very challenging to defend yourself successfully in court, and your choice may cost you more in the long run. An experienced Florida DUI defense attorney can explain what you should know before you decide to fight a DUI on your own.
What Are Florida’s DUI Penalties?
First, it’s essential to understand what consequences you could face if convicted. Florida takes DUI charges seriously; even first-time offenders can face imprisonment and significant fines. The penalties for a DUI conviction are:
- First-offense DUI: A misdemeanor that can result in up to six months in jail, $500 to $1,000 in fines, and license revocation for six months to one year.
- Second DUI: A misdemeanor offense punishable by up to nine months in jail and fines of $1,000 to $2,000. If your second DUI was five years or more after your first conviction, you face license revocation for six months to one year. If it was within five years of your first DUI, it is a minimum of five years revocation.
- Third DUI within ten years of second conviction: A felony with mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days, 48 hours of which must be consecutive, and a fine of $2,000 to $5000. Your license will be revoked for a minimum of ten years.
- Third DUI after ten years from second conviction: A felony that requires you to spend up to 12 months in jail. You’ll also pay $2,000 to $5,000 in fines and have your license revoked for six months to one year.
- Fourth or subsequent DUI: You could spend up to five years in incarceration for this felony and pay $2,000 to $5,000 in fines. Mandatory permanent license revocation will follow incarceration, although you may apply for hardship reinstatement after five years.
What Situations May Lead to Enhanced DUI Penalties?
While the penalties for a DUI may be harsh, you could be subject to even more severe consequences if there are complicating factors in your arrest. These situations can potentially lead to felony charges, extended imprisonment, increased fines, or other legal issues:
- A minor in your vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest
- A blood alcohol level (BAL) above .15
- Involvement in an accident that caused property damage, injury, or death while you were accused of driving under the influence
- Possessing a commercial motor vehicle license (CMV)
- Refusing a breath, urine, or blood test after your DUI arrest
Navigating the legal system following a DUI without experienced legal counsel can be complex. The court process is often long and involved, and an unsuccessful defense can leave you open to significant legal ramifications. In most cases, your best chance of avoiding or reducing these penalties is hiring a lawyer who has handled DUI cases. Otherwise, if you plead guilty or try to fight your charges yourself, you have a much higher chance of receiving the maximum criminal penalties.
What Additional Civil Penalties May You Face?
The stakes are high if you are facing a DUI conviction, but the issues caused by your charges can extend well beyond jail time and fines. The court may require you to attend a DUI school or install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle(s) following a conviction. An IID is a device that measures the alcohol content of your breath that is attached to your car’s ignition. To start your vehicle, you must blow into the IID and have it register a BAL of 0%. You must pay fees to have the IID installed and maintained.
Unless your family only has one vehicle, your car will likely be impounded or immobilized for 10 to 90 days, depending on the circumstances of your conviction. This cannot occur concurrently with any jail time you must serve. The court might also require you to complete a substance abuse treatment program or perform community service as part of your sentencing. If your DUI defense is unsuccessful, you could spend a lot of time and money completing the necessary actions following your conviction.
What Are Possible DUI Defenses?
Whether you hire a lawyer or represent yourself, there are several defense angles to choose from. Some of the questions you can raise to get your case dismissed or charges reduced include the following:
- Were the field sobriety tests administered properly?
- Did the police have probable cause to pull you over?
- Was the breath test administered correctly?
- Was the breathalyzer working correctly?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you may be able to defend yourself from a DUI. However, it will be your responsibility to choose the right defense strategy, gather necessary evidence, meet all filing deadlines, and follow proper court procedures. This will take time and extensive knowledge of the laws in Florida, which is why we suggest consulting an experienced legal professional before you decide to represent yourself.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
Everyone has the right to manage their own DUI defense. However, representing yourself may not be the best choice for your case, especially if your situation is complex. You don’t have to do this on your own. A skilled Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer knows what details to consider and what evidence to collect to fight your specific charges. When you hire a seasoned lawyer to handle your DUI defense, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of avoiding the most severe penalties.
You can learn your legal options when you schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer. Call George Reres Law, P.A. at 954-523-3811 today to get started.