DUI Lawyers in Jacksonville — Fighting to Ensure Our Clients Are Treated Fairly by the System
Jacksonville, FL has some of the highest DUI rates in the state. As a populous city that attracts tourists year-round, this is no major surprise. However, statistics don’t tell the real story of what happens when someone is charged with drunk driving. In fact, dealing with the police officers who make an arrest is typically the least of a person’s problems. These charges could result in lifelong repercussions — including employment issues, loss of transportation, extreme fines, and even prison time. If you’ve been charged with this crime, it’s important to speak with a DUI lawyer in Jacksonville before doing anything else.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, you’ll work with a Florida criminal defense attorney who is committed to securing the best outcome on your behalf. In some instances, this may mean getting you the lowest possible sentence and helping get your license reinstated. In other situations, it may mean having all charges dropped or securing a not-guilty verdict at trial. The circumstances surrounding your case will dictate which approach is best. With a DUI defense lawyer in Jacksonville on your side, though, you’ll have a staunch advocate who will not stop fighting for you.
Are There Any Legal Defenses to DUI Charges in Jacksonville?
When someone is charged with the criminal offense of driving under the influence (DUI), they often believe a conviction is imminent. After all, most of these arrests include failed field sobriety tests and even breathalyzer tests showing legal intoxication. When faced with such damning evidence, it’s no surprise that many people either plead guilty or accept a plea deal rather than going to trial. They might feel that getting a hardship license so they maintain driving privileges is a win.
However, this could be one of the biggest mistakes you ever make. While it may not seem likely, there are actually several legitimate defenses to DUI charges. These include:
- Erroneous breathalyzer results: Law enforcement officers use a breathalyzer to estimate a person’s blood alcohol concentration. This is often the primary evidence in DUI cases. However, they are just machines. It’s possible the readings could be erroneous.
- Illegal stop: Unless there’s a DUI checkpoint, police officers need a reason to stop someone under Florida law. They’ll often say they witnessed the driver of a motor vehicle engaged in reckless driving, but dashcams may prove there was no probable cause.
Mistakes during field sobriety tests: An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge field sobriety tests if they were conducted improperly. There are specific steps that an officer must take, and if they fail to do so, any evidence collected could be thrown out in court.
- Lack of evidence: If you’re charged with drunk driving, it’s up to police and prosecutors to prove your guilt. If they present inadequate evidence in criminal court, you can argue that they have not proven their case.
- Affirmative defenses: Under criminal law, using an affirmative defense acknowledges that you were driving under the influence. However, if you were involuntarily intoxicated (e.g., a victim of date rape drug offenses) or unaware you consumed alcohol or drugs, you may not be legally culpable for your actions.
- Other constitutional issues: Any violation of your constitutional rights could essentially void the evidence presented against you. Perhaps officers administered a blood or urine test improperly, or maybe you were denied, legal counsel. Either way, the Constitution protects you.
- Other potential defenses: As any DUI lawyer in Jacksonville will tell you, there are far more potential defenses available to those charged in DUI cases. The right approach will depend on the circumstances of your case, so reach out to our law firm today.
No matter how many times the state attorney’s office tells you that a conviction is imminent, you should still speak with a Jacksonville DUI attorney. Prosecutors want you to believe that their case is solid. By convincing you of that, they can get your case finished quicker and move on to the next. However, your criminal record, future, and freedom should not be dictated by the prosecutor’s desire for expediency. If you’re facing criminal charges — whether it’s your first DUI or you’ve had multiple DUI convictions — take a moment to contact our law firm and speak about your case.
Since we offer free initial consultations, you have nothing to lose by learning more about your rights.
What Should You Do After a DUI Arrest?
It doesn’t take a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% — the legal limit, unless you’re a big rig driver or minor — to be terrified when a law enforcement officer pulls you over. When an officer pulls you over, though, it’s important to remain calm and not make any rash decisions. The side of the road is no place to mount a criminal defense. However, you’ve likely already been arrested for DUI if you’re reading this. Nothing can change what has already happened since you were charged, but from this point on, it’s imperative that you do not talk to police officers or the prosecutor before speaking with a Jacksonville DUI attorney.
Put simply, you’re not required to tell the police or government officials anything. It’s important to remember how strict DUI law in Florida is — something we’ll discuss in the “Penalties” section below — and that anything you say could result in more severe penalties. The assistant state attorney is going to get the stiffest penalty they can while trying to avoid trial, but this doesn’t mean they won’t take the case to trial. In either of these scenarios — plea arrangements or criminal litigation — having an experienced attorney mount your DUI defense can prove invaluable.
In a nutshell, the main things you should do after a DUI charge are to remain silent and contact an attorney.
What Are the Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Florida?
Unfortunately, many people don’t treat a DUI charge with the seriousness it deserves. In fact, countless individuals have simply pleaded guilty or “no contest” in order to move on with their lives. On the other hand, the criminal justice system takes these charges very seriously. In addition to DUI school, a potential loss of license, probation, mandatory ignition interlock device installation (up to six months on a first offense), and community service, you could face the following more severe penalties:
First Offense DUI in Florida
The first time a person is found guilty of driving under the influence, they could face fines of up to $2,000, imprisonment for up to nine months, and vehicle impoundment for up to 10 days.
Second Offense DUI in Florida
For a second DUI offense, a convicted person may be fined up to $4,000, face up to a year in prison, the possibility of a minimum 10-day sentence, and vehicle impoundment of 30 days.
Third Offense DUI in Florida
A third DUI conviction in Florida can lead to fines of up to $5,000, a minimum of 30 days in jail, and impoundment of the vehicle for three months. This is a third-degree felony.
Fourth and Subsequent Offenses
A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is also a third-degree felony. The penalties are similar for a third offense, but you could face minimum fines of $4,000 along with a potential five-year prison sentence.
The penalties described above involve inebriated driving without major aggravating factors — although the penalties do include situations where minors were in the vehicle. However, driving under the influence that results in property damage, bodily harm, or death can result in upgraded charges and up to 30 years in prison.
What Can a Jacksonville DUI Attorney Do for You?
A common question people ask after a drunk driving arrest is whether they need a DUI attorney. As evidenced by the sections above, there is plenty of information online regarding criminal defense strategies and what rights a defendant has. However, there’s an old saying that states that “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” This adage holds up even if it’s a legal professional who is facing DUI charges, but it’s particularly true for those without criminal defense experience. When you’re charged with a crime, you’re going up against experienced prosecutors and police officers whose integrity is unquestioned by the courts.
So, what exactly can a criminal defense lawyer do for you? The possibilities are nearly limitless. They can challenge arrests and even call the honesty of the officer into question. This can be done by seeking access to current and former records. If the evidence against you is weak or improperly obtained, a Jacksonville DUI attorney can also let the prosecutor know that you’re taking this seriously. Sometimes, avoiding unfair treatment within the system merely requires showing authorities that you’re not going to roll over and accept the charges against you.
However, there are instances where a not-guilty verdict or charge dismissal is unlikely. Perhaps the evidence is overwhelming, or maybe the prosecutor just wants to send a message regarding underage DUI. If a personal injury occurred or the charges are particularly serious — such as DUI manslaughter — the prosecuting attorney may even feel as if they have no choice but to bring the most serious charges. Whatever the case, a DUI lawyer in Jacksonville FL can engage in plea negotiations or trial defense to seek reduced charges or minimize potential penalties.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Jacksonville Today
If you’re looking for legal counsel to help fight DUI charges, you’re already on the right path. Far too many people simply accept it when the arresting officer and prosecutor tell them that a conviction is imminent. This often results in accepting a plea deal that has long-lasting repercussions that might not be immediately apparent. Even having your driver’s license suspended — a near certainty in many of these cases — is enough to destroy your personal life and financial situation. And while this certainly sounds disastrous, a suspended license is often not even the most serious consequence a person will face.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, we serve clients in Northeast Florida who want to ensure they’re not railroaded by the system. Mistakes by the arresting officer, constitutional issues, errors with field sobriety tests, and a lack of evidence can all be potential defenses in a DUI case. While it’s not mandatory to have a legal team on your side, a skilled criminal defense attorney can fight to secure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today by calling (904) 204-3420 to schedule a free consultation. Our DUI lawyers in Jacksonville are ready to provide legal assistance and strive to minimize the negative effects on your life.