You may be very worried about your future if you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should not assume that a conviction is assured, even if you took a chemical test that returned unfavorable results. It is important to retain an experienced attorney to defend you against the charges and protect your rights. If you are concerned about a first-time DUI charge, you should talk to Tampa DUI lawyer Jason M. Mayberry at the Mayberry Law Firm.First-Time DUI
Serious consequences are imposed for a DUI, even if it is a first offense. Under Florida law, driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances can be shown in different ways. Under Florida Statutes section 316.193, you can be found guilty of a DUI if you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle, and (a) you are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, such that your normal faculties are impaired, (b) you have at least a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams or more of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood, or (c) you have at least a breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or more of alcohol for every 210 liters of breath. As they must with other crimes, prosecutors must establish the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.
To secure a conviction, a prosecutor should show that you were in actual control of your car while you were under the influence. If you were in a parked car trying to sleep off your intoxication, it is less likely that a jury will decide to convict.Penalties
If you are convicted for a first-time DUI, you can face a maximum of six months in jail, a $500-1,000 fine, community service, and the loss of your driver’s license for six months. You may need to complete a drug and alcohol program. Your vehicle will be impounded for 10 days. You can face a maximum of nine months in jail and a fine of $1,000-$2,000 if you had a minor passenger in the car, or your blood alcohol content was at least .15, even if it was a first offense.
Additionally, after a DUI conviction, you may find it difficult to rent a home, obtain a professional license, or get a job. Your auto insurance premiums will increase.
In most cases, if you do not have prior convictions, the penalties are less severe, but it is still important to retain a knowledgeable attorney to pursue a favorable result. The sentences for second, third, or subsequent DUI convictions are much more severe.Defenses
There are defenses that we may be able to raise on your behalf, notwithstanding an adverse chemical test. Sometimes it is appropriate to raise a procedural or constitutional defense. In order to pull you over, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence or breaking another law. A reasonable suspicion is more than a mere hunch. If an officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to pull you over, it may be possible to get all the evidence obtained during the stop suppressed in a motion. Once they have pulled you over, the police will try to gather evidence of intoxication; they must have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. If the police did not have probable cause to arrest you, it may be possible to move to suppress evidence gathered after the arrest. Evidence gathering may include the administration of field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Field sobriety tests are not always reliable, and they are not always properly administered, so it may be appropriate to challenge the results. Similarly, certain procedures must be followed with blood, breath, or urine tests, and if these procedures were not followed, it may be appropriate to challenge the results of a chemical test.Consult a Seasoned DUI Defense Attorney in the Tampa Area
You should take a first-time DUI charge seriously. A criminal conviction can haunt you far into the future, and if you are charged subsequently, the prior conviction can result in harsher penalties. The Mayberry Law Firm may be able to help. We represent clients in Tampa and elsewhere in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, Manatee, and Hardee Counties. Call us at (813) 444-7435 or complete our online form.