DUI Overkill

Posted February 1st, 2012 by Leah R with No Comments
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times.  A recent article by CNN had me thinking how sometimes DUIs are bad things that happen to good people. Sometimes there IS a drinking problem, sometimes it’s just temporary lack of judgment.  The stakes are high in Florida if you are charged with DUI.  Any good Clearwater DUI lawyer will tell you that a first time DUI will generally not earn you jail time unless the scenario is especially egregious.  Often the collateral administrative penalty is more detrimental to a person initially.  As time progresses, the criminal element proves to carry the heavier bite. A first time DUI in Florida can best be explained as a two pronged process that begins at the same time.
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These two prongs are the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) administrative portion which is unrelated to the criminal portion.
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ADMINISTRATIVE PORTION- Your first time DUI process begins with addressing the potential suspension of your unrestricted driving privilege for either 6 months or 12 months depending on whether you gave a breath or urine test.  From the date of arrest you have 10 days to challenge the suspension of your license.  If you hire the Clearwater DUI attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm we will file our demand for a hearing within the allotted 10 days on your behalf.  Upon our demand, the DMV has 30 days within which to set our hearing to challenge the lawfulness of a driver’s license suspension.  Unfortunately, these hearings are very limited in scope per Florida Statute 322.2615 consisting of whether the law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe the individual was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or chemical or controlled substances; whether the individual refused to submit to a urine test or a test of their breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol level after being requested to do so by a law enforcement officer; and whether the individual was told that if they refused to submit to such test their privilege to operate a motor vehicle would be suspended for a period of 12 months, or in the case of a second or subsequent refusal, for a period of 18 months.
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Upon the filing of our demand for a hearing, the DMV will issue a paper certificate allowing the individual to drive for business purposes only for 42 days, beginning on the date it was received.  Upon completion of the DMV hearing to challenge the lawfulness of suspension, if the Clearwater DUI attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm are successful in challenging your suspension, you will receive your full driving privilege back.  If the DMV finds the suspension to be lawful, the individual will enter into a “hard time” period.  “Hard time” is a 30 or 90 day period where an individual cannot drive for any reason at all.  If a breath test was rendered upon arrest, the “hard time” is 30 days and if no breath test was given “hard time” is 90 days.  I always advise my clients to sign up for and complete a 12 hour level 1 DUI school prior to completion of your “hard time” and schedule a hardship hearing for the next day after your “hard time” suspension is over (Hillsborough-http://www.duicounterattack.org/) (Pinellas-http://www.safety.org/dui-program-classes-level-one-dui.php).  The DUI courses are between $245 and $265 depending on where you get arrested and are 12 hours long.  The class is required in order to get your hardship license which allows you to drive for business purposes only per Florida Statute 322.271.  Business Purposes Only is defined per Florida Statute 322.271(c)(1) as a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes.  This Business Purposes Only license will be valid until your criminal case is completed (if the courts impose a suspension) or until you are eligible via time for an unrestricted driver’s license.
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CRIMINAL PORTION- Though the driver’s license suspension imposed in the administrative portion of a DUI seems at first blush to be the biggest issue, it is a minnow in the water next to whale that is the criminal portion.  The criminal portion begins with an arraignment wherein the State notifies you of your charge (duh, not that hard to figure out is it?).  If you hire the Clearwater DUI lawyers at The Mayberry Law firm we will file a written plea of not guilty which prevents you from having to sit for 3 hours at your arraignment waiting to be called to the front of the court.  After the arraignment, most of the work from here is done by the DUI lawyers in the office and over the phone in preparing the case for either trial, negotiated plea, or straight up plea before the judge.  If a plea to the DUI is entered the consequences are generally somewhere in the neighborhood of: Adjudication of Guilt (formal conviction), 12 months probation, court/investigation costs, DUI school (likely already completed, Victim Impact Panel, 50-75 public service hours, 10 day vehicle impound (vehicle is generally booted or stickered for 10 days to prevent driving), 6 month driver’s license revoke (runs concurrent with DMV suspension), fines.  If there is a breath test rendered above .15 the fine gets higher, an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle (blow to start your car), more public service hours are required, and lastly the prosecutor or judge may want jail, work release, or a SCRAM alcohol bracelet.  Ultimately if you plea to DUI rather than a reduced reckless driving, you will have to sign an SR-22 insurance form that increases your insurance premium in order to get vehicles in your name insured
The long and short of a DUI is that it’s a very costly penalty for a lapse of judgment.  Like Oral Roberts’ son, you are likely not a career criminal or someone who has ever been in trouble before.  Lets attack this together.
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If you’re charged with a DUI, call the Clearwater DUI lawyers at The Mayberry Law Firm immediately!  Call 727-771-3847 and let us help you through this tough time.

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