When you are looking for a DUI attorney in Florida, you will most likely speak with a few attorneys before picking one to represent you. Consultations, which are typically free, are the best way to get to know a prospective attorney – and to decide if he or she is the right fit for your case. The best and most qualified attorneys will always welcome and appreciate client questions. It is important to remember that while you are interviewing the attorney, he is also interviewing you, since he will need to decide if he can take the case.
To get the most out of your consultation and ensure that you’re hiring the best DUI attorney, you need to know which questions to ask. This way, you can make an informed, calculated decision.
Questions to Ask When Narrowing Down Your Choices
These questions will help you to narrow down your choices and pick the right attorney for your case:
- How many years have you been in practice? This is very important. Newer attorneys do not always know the tactics of state attorneys when prosecuting DUI cases. You want an attorney who has several years of experience – more specifically, several years defending DUI cases.
- How much experience do you have with DUI cases? An attorney with 20 years of experience may not have 20 years of DUI defense experience. Some attorneys just dabble in DUI defenses to earn a little extra for the year. You want to know how competent the attorney is in DUI offenses specifically, and how many years, as well as the number of successful cases, he or she possesses in this area.
- Do you have experience with a case like mine? Every case is different and there are circumstances that will make your case unique. You want to know if your prospective attorney has had experience with cases that are similar to yours in order to do the job right.
- Who will be handling my case? This is critical. When you deal with larger firms, you may meet with a named partner in the firm, but that named partner may not be the person you actually have handling your case. Often, cases are handed off to other attorneys in the office, with the majority of your communications handled through a paralegal, rather than your attorney. Knowing who you will interact with, as well as who will represent you in court, is very important.
- What do you predict for my case? While no attorney can predict the future, a good attorney will be honest and upfront about what to expect in your case. He or she can give you an idea of what penalties you are likely to encounter and which negotiations are reasonable. This is very important to ask, because any attorney who cannot give you an honest expectation may not be an attorney you want representing your claim.
Speak with a Florida DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. We can assist you with your case and give you the opportunity to meet with an attorney through a no-obligation consultation. Call now at 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.Read More
If you are charged with a DUI in Florida, you not only face jail time, but may face penalties, attorney’s fees or fines. Determining the cost of your own DUI will depend on numerous factors – especially if you are facing subsequent charges in addition to the DUI. The costs will also vary depending on the caliber of attorney you hire, and whether or not he or she can negotiate a lesser charge.
Aside from the social stigma of a DUI conviction, there is a huge financial burden that most people do not realize. In Florida, it is considered a DUI offense to drive, attempt to drive, or be in charge of a vehicle on a public road when you have a blood or urine alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Therefore, you could be charged with a DUI even if you are not physically driving the car, or, for example, if it is parked and running on a public street.
What are the Fines and Fees Associated with a DUI in Florida?
The penalties for a DUI in Florida will vary depending on the offense, but the following generally apply:
- First Offense: Fines and penalties range from $500 to as high as $2,000.
- Second Offense: Fines and penalties range from $1,000 to as high as $4,000.
- Third Offense: Fines and penalties range from $2,000 to $5,000.
It Is Not Just the Fines and Penalties
While you will pay fines and penalties, these are not the only costs associated with a DUI. You may face jail time – which costs you money. You will also be required to install an interlock ignition device (IID), which comes with an installation and monthly fee. You will also be responsible for maintaining and servicing the IID.
For the first offense, you can face six to nine months in jail. Your third offense, however, carries up to one year in prison. Also, your license will be suspended, which means that you will encounter further costs in public transportation or ride-sharing with others until you have a license to drive.
It Is Not Just the Financial Burden
Most people do not realize the burden that comes with a DUI conviction. If convicted, you will have a criminal record, which must be disclosed on job applications. Even if your DUI happened three years ago, it could affect your ability to get a job – especially if that job requires driving, or if your employer needs to insure you.
Speak with a DUI Defense Attorney
To avoid the harsh penalties, jail time and other burdens associated with a DUI conviction, contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. can assist you with your case. Call us to schedule a consultation 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.Read More
If you have been arrested for a DUI, you may assume that any attorney will be fit for the job of defending your case or helping negotiate a plea bargain. But, the reality is that the caliber of the attorney you hire can dramatically impact your DUI charges. From reduced sentences to dismissals and diversion programs, hiring the right DUI attorney is critical for your case and your freedom.
Reasons You Need to Hire a Skilled DUI Attorney
Not all attorneys specialize in DUIs or have adequate experience defending these types of cases. If you have been arrested for a DUI, the first call you should make is to an attorney that has years of experience handling DUIs specifically. Just some benefits to doing so include:
- They understand DUI laws in Florida better than you. You may assume that you can research DUI laws and represent yourself, but the reality is that an attorney is constantly studying both the laws and the changes to these laws. An attorney has invested years studying these issues, and understands the recent modifications. Their education and experience has prepared them better for negotiations and trial than you could ever do representing yourself.
- An attorney understands legal procedures. A DUI case will have a large volume of paperwork, legal procedures, court documents and strict deadlines. These items are time-consuming in themselves, but an attorney dedicates their time and has the extra staff to assist them with all of these miniscule tasks.
- Effective defense against DUI charges. DUI cases are extremely technical and require the expertise of a DUI attorney. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels may be used in court against you, but an attorney knows how to show whether the machine was calibrated and the overall inaccuracy of these types of chemical tests. The attorney also can look for potential weaknesses and help build a strong defense.
- Saving your driver’s license from suspension. In Florida, you not only face criminal penalties, but you could lose your license in an automatic DUI suspension. An attorney may be able to represent you during your hearing and help you retain your driving privileges.
- Lower penalties and fair plea deals. If the evidence is stacked against you, your attorney can still help negotiate for lower penalties and achieve fair plea deals with the prosecution. An attorney will guide you through the process, explain what is involved in your plea and the deal you are accepting, and ensure that the prosecution holds to their word.
- An attorney can help protect your criminal history. A DUI conviction can be devastating to your professional, social and financial life. By keeping your criminal history clean, you can live a normal life. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure your record stays clear, without convictions, or help you expunge or seal the record later.
Speak With a Jacksonville DUI Attorney Now – Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, do not leave your case in the hands of an inexperienced attorney or no attorney at all. Instead, exercise your constitutional right to legal representation and contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. now. Contact us online or call 904-356-8618 to get started with a consultation.Read More
Being arrested or even pulled over for a DUI can be daunting. If you do not know the law, you may not understand your rights; therefore, you could inadvertently do or say things that make your case more difficult for a defense attorney. These mistakes increase the penalties a person potentially receives for their DUI – and are often avoidable. Whether you are a first-time offender or multiple offender, there are options you have to lessen the penalties you may face for your DUI case. In order to take these steps, you must first understand what mistakes others make and how you can avoid them.
Common Mistakes in DUI Cases
These mistakes start from the moment the police officer pulls you over and continue on until you are officially charged.
- Admitting to Drinking and Driving – Police must have probable cause to pull you over and to order a field sobriety test. However, there are numerous instances where police will pull over a vehicle leaving a bar or other area without probable cause. As a driver, it is important to understand that you do not have to answer the police officer’s questions – especially those pertaining to whether or not you have been drinking. Note that it is not illegal to drink and drive; it is only illegal to drive while legally intoxicated. If the officer inquires about your activities for the night or whether or not you have been drinking, you are not required to admit to anything.
- Accepting the Field Sobriety Test – If an officer suspects that you are drinking and driving, they may request a field sobriety test, which involves testing your balance and coordination. You are not required under the law to take this test. While Florida’s implied consent law requires that you take a chemical test (breathalyzer, urine analysis, etc.) you are not required to consent to a field sobriety test – a test that is misleading and can cause a sober individual to fail.
- Refusing the Chemical Test – Refusing a chemical test in Florida will not help you. Under the implied consent law, if you are arrested for a DUI, you must submit to a chemical test. Refusal to take the test will likely result in an automatic one-year license suspension (18 months if this is your second or third offense). While the officers cannot physically force you to take the test, you will face harsh penalties if you do not, and you may still be charged with a DUI.
- Not Consulting an Attorney – You have the right to an attorney. If you are arrested for a DUI, you do not have to answer the police officers’ questions; instead, you can request an attorney present before any questioning commences. Use this right, for it may not only protect you from DUI charges, but could protect your right to drive a vehicle in the future.
Consult with the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong, P.A.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, do not commit one of these costly mistakes. Admitting to having drinks gives a police officer probable cause to arrest you and, therefore, force a chemical test. You have rights, and an attorney can help you exercise those rights under the law. Contact us at 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.Read More
It is not against the law to drink and drive in the state of Florida. It is, however, illegal to drive while impaired. Under Florida law, anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher is considered legally impaired. That means that the individual cannot fully appreciate how the alcohol is affecting their normal faculties, including their cognitive and physical abilities.
Being pulled over by the police is an intimidating experience. However, by understanding DUI law, an individual can ease some of the anxiety and possibly prevent from incriminating themselves.
If a police officer suspects a driver of a DUI, the driver must act with caution. It is important to never divulge any details that can lead to self-incrimination, such as admitting to drinking in a bar or discussing the night’s activities in detail. Certain answers can lead to an arrest and be used later in court. It is best for the driver to remain polite and state that questions will not be answered without the presence of an attorney.
There are certain things a driver is required by law to tell a police officer, such as their name and driver’s license. However, a driver is not required to tell the officer where they are coming from or where they are headed.
The officer may request a field sobriety test if they suspect a DUI. While they may not state so, field sobriety tests are strictly voluntary. A driver can refuse to take a field sobriety test, which can involve balancing on one leg or reciting the alphabet backwards. Field sobriety tests rarely help drivers suspected of DUIs, considering the fact that even sober individuals often struggle to do the tasks involved in these tests.
Breathalyzer, Blood, and Urine Tests
If the officer decides to arrest the driver for a DUI, it is then that they can request a breathalyzer. Unlike field sobriety tests, refusing to take the breathalyzer can affect the outcome of a DUI case. Florida employs an implied consent law, which means that DUI suspects who have been arrested are required to take a breath, blood, or urine test. Refusing a chemical test can result in an automatic six-month license suspension and could still result in a DUI charge.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney is Key
If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. The Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong, PA can assist you with your DUI defense and represent your case in front of the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division to help you keep your license. Call for a no obligation case evaluation at 904-356-8618 or fill out an online contact form to get started.Read More
Although drunk driving is always a serious offense, first time offenders are often ordinary people with no criminal history. For this reason, DUI penalties are strict enough to discourage future offenses but not so strict that they completely alter the individual’s life. However, second, third, and fourth offenses are considered less of a “mistake” and more of a habitual problem. Therefore, second and subsequent offense penalties become increasingly strict.
With every DUI, Florida law takes specific measures to decrease the potential of a second or third offense. The defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and previous DUI history are factored into each case. Florida law also bases the severity of penalties on the amount of time between arrests. Each subsequent DUI offense has compounding consequences, with the hope of breaking offender cycles.
For first time offenders, the initial consideration is blood alcohol content. A reading of 0.08 percent or higher constitutes an illegal amount of alcohol in the blood. If the reading is below 0.15 percent, the offender may face up to six months of jail time, a 180 day license suspension and up to $1,000 in fines. Any BAC above 0.15 percent will increase the penalty to a maximum of nine months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
If an individual is convicted of a second DUI offense, he or she will receive a minimum ten day jail sentence (maximum of nine months) and a $2,000 fine. An installation of an ignition interlock device is also mandatory with a second conviction. If it has been more than five years since the original conviction, there is a maximum license revocation period of 180 days. However, if it has been less than five years since the first DUI, the offender’s license will be revoked for at least five years. In these cases, prosecuted second offenders may apply for a hardship license after one year.
A third DUI conviction is a felony with a mandatory sentence of 30 days to a year in jail. A third DUI means that an ignition interlock device will be required for two years. Fines may increase to $5,000 and the offender’s license will be revoked for an extended period of time. If it has been over ten years since the previous offense, the license revocation period may be up to 180 days. However, the offender may be subjected to a five year license suspension if both prior convictions occurred within five years of each other. If the third offense is within ten years of the last offense, the driver’s license will be revoked for ten years. In both cases, offenders may not qualify for a hardship license for up to two years.
Florida considers third and subsequent DUI convictions to be a felony. With a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine, felony DUI offenses are a permanent black mark on the offender’s criminal record.
The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong Can Answer Your Questions
Multiple DUI offenses are often accompanied by other serious issues, such as addiction, depression, and possible property damage and physical injury. These confusing social and legal issues can be traumatic for everyone involved. If you have been arrested for DUI more than once, you will need a solid legal plan. With prior experience as an Assistant Public Defender, Timothy Armstrong understands the complexities of multiple DUI convictions. He and his legal team have successfully defended countless DUI cases, including those involving multiple DUIs. In addition to several lines of defense, there are also alternative sentencing options available. Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong today.Read More
If you are like most people who have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), one of your biggest concerns is understanding the punishment you are likely to face if convicted. In Florida, there are actually a number of factors that can affect your sentence.
These include: your age, DUI history and blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, and whether any of various “aggravating factors” apply based on the circumstances of your arrest. This article outlines the basic penalties for Florida DUIs. For additional details, you can visit the DUI section of our website.
Penalties for a First DUI Arrest
The following are the standard penalties for a typical first-time DUI arrest:
- $500 to $1,000 fine
- Six-month to one-year license suspension
- Up to six months of imprisonment
- Up to one year of probation
- Mandatory alcohol class attendance
- A minimum of 50 hours of community service (unless the court allows a “buy-out” option at $10 per hour)
- 10-day vehicle impound
These are just the criminal penalties, and do not take into account the practical implications of a DUI conviction – such as increased insurance premiums. If you were driving with a minor or your BAC was 0.15 or above, the fines can increase up to $2,000 and you may be sentenced to up to nine months in jail, along with possible additional penalties.
Penalties for a Second DUI Arrest
If this is your second DUI, the penalties will vary depending on whether your previous DUI occurred within the past five years. If it did, you are facing:
- $1,000 to $2,000 fine
- Six-month to one-year license suspension
- Up to nine months in jail, with a mandatory minimum of 10 days
- Five-year driver’s license revocation
- Mandatory alcohol class attendance
- 30-day vehicle impound
- Installation of ignition interlock devices in each of your vehicles after your license gets reinstated
The penalties are slightly less if your prior DUI conviction is more than five years old. In either case, as with a first-time DUI, these penalties will be enhanced if you were driving with a minor or had a BAC of 0.15 or above.
Penalties for a Third DUI
If this is your third DUI, the penalties are steeper still. If you received your previous DUI within the past 10 years, the possible punishment for a third DUI includes:
- Up to $5,000 fine
- Up to five years in jail, with a 30-day minimum
- A minimum 10-year license suspension
- Two-year ignition interlock device installation on all of your vehicles
- 90-day vehicle impound
- Monthly probation visits
- Mandatory substance abuse education and psychological examination
Penalties for Fourth and Subsequent DUIs
If you already have three or more DUI convictions on your record, your next DUI will be a third-degree felony. Third-degree felony charges carry a possible $5,000 fine and up to a five-year prison term.
Additional Charges for DUIs Involving Accidents
If you caused a minor accident, you will also likely be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which carries another $1,000 in fines and up to one year of imprisonment. If you caused serious injuries, you may be charged with felony DUI, which can also mean up to five years behind bars.
Speak with a Jacksonville, FL DUI Defense Attorney Today
As you can see, you need to take your DUI charges very seriously. Attorney Tim Armstrong can help you fight to avoid conviction or reduce the penalties for your DUI arrest. For more information, call (904) 356-8618 or contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. online today.Read More
When you receive a DUI conviction, you are likely to face fines, court costs, suspension of your driver’s license, probation, and maybe even jail time. You may also be required to attend alcohol school, seek treatment, and install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. While this may seem like more than enough punishment already, there is yet another consequence to getting caught drinking and driving: the impact your conviction will have on your auto insurance policy.
Skyrocketing Insurance Rates
If you have a DUI conviction on your record, your insurance rates are going to go up. That is a fact. The insurance companies even acknowledge that they are going to significantly increase your rates if you receive a DUI conviction. One insurance company’s website states, “DUIs = high-risk driving, high-risk driving = higher premiums.” Another’s simply states , we “will insure you regardless of whether or not you have a DUI, though we do charge you appropriately.”
The amount of your increase will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your insurance company
- Your driving history
- The severity of your DUI (e.g., how drunk you were, and whether you were speeding or caused an accident)
- Whether you have other DUIs on your record already
If you have multiple DUI convictions, some companies won’t insure you. In fact, Florida law specifically allows insurance companies to cancel coverage if your license has been suspended. If your record is to the point where some companies won’t even cover you, you can expect your insurance rates to increase exponentially with those that will.
Most insurers will keep your DUI on your policy for five years.
Increased Coverage Requirements
In order to get your license reinstated following a DUI conviction, you will be required to obtain auto insurance with enhanced policy limits. Maintaining these higher policy limits will increase your monthly premiums as well. The insurance policy requirements for drivers convicted of DUI in Florida are:
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death to a single person
- $300,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people
- $50,000 for property damage for a single crash
You will be required to keep this increased insurance for a minimum of three years. There is no way around this. To reinstate your license, the DHSMV will require you to submit a Form FR-44 with evidence of your new insurance policy – and this form must be signed by your insurer. If you cancel your insurance, your insurance company will notify the DHSMV.
Contact Us Today
These increased insurance costs alone are reason enough to fight your DUI arrest. At The Armstrong Law Group, P.A., we fight vigorously on behalf of our clients to help them avoid DUI convictions. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (904) 356-8618 or contact us online today.Read More
As a North Florida DUI attorney, I get asked this question all of the time. The short answer is: No, you cannot trick a Breathalyzer. There are several myths out there, but no method has been proven to prevent a Breathalyzer from reading your true blood alcohol content (BAC).
MYTH 1: Blow Lightly
Many people think that blowing lightly will defeat the Breathalyzer. The reasoning seems to be that if you only blow the air that is in your mouth – and not in your lungs – then the test won’t pick up on the alcohol in your system.
The problem with that theory is that if you don’t blow deeply, the test doesn’t work. The Breathalyzer only registers deep lung breaths, and the arresting officer will have you keep blowing until you’ve taken the test properly.
MYTH 2: Rinse with Mouthwash
If you use mouthwash right before you blow, then this will confuse the test and give you justification for blowing a high BAC, right? Not exactly. Compared to the alcohol content of mouthwash, it takes a fair amount of alcohol consumption to register above the legal limit. This is not to say that it’s hard to register a 0.08 if you’ve been drinking, but rather that it nearly impossible to register a 0.08 from a swig of mouthwash.
MYTH 3: Drink Caffeine to Absorb the Alcohol or Get it Out of Your System
Some people also think that drinking soda, coffee, or energy drinks after a night of imbibing will restore their BAC back to normal. This doesn’t work either. Drinking caffeinated beverages does not affect the concentration of alcohol in your system. In addition, studies have also shown that mixing alcohol with caffeine increases the risks associated with overconsumption. As a result, this is not only a fruitless exercise, but should actually be actively avoided.
What if I Blow Above the Legal Limit?
The fact that you can’t trick the Breathalyzer doesn’t mean that taking the test is the end of your case. There are numerous legitimate ways to fight the results of a Breathalyzer. Some examples include:
- Showing that you were arrested without probable cause and that the test results are the fruit of an illegal arrest.
- Challenging the reliability of the particular type or brand of Breathalyzer.
- Arguing that the Breathalyzer was not properly calibrated.
- Demonstrating that the test was administered improperly.
- Showing up in court – if the officer who administered the test does not show up to testify, your constitutional rights may protect you from being convicted.
These are just a small sampling of the defenses that can be used to overcome a DUI arrest. If you have been arrested for DUI, you should speak with your attorney about the options available in your case.
Experienced Representation for DUI Defense
If you have been charged with DUI, attorney Tim Armstrong can help. Call 904-356-8618 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.Read More
The U.S. Constitution gives all people who are arrested the right to remain silent in order to avoid incriminating themselves following an arrest.
This right is contained in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, and was further clarified in the famous Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.
The Miranda Warning
The standard Miranda warning is:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Some police officers may stop and ask if you understand each sentence. The reason is that in order for the Miranda warning to be legally effective, it must be reasonably clear that the person who was arrested understands it. If the Miranda warning is not given properly, or if the arrestee does not give legal consent to speak to the police, statements made in subsequent interrogations may be inadmissible in court.
When the Police are Required to Read Your Miranda Rights
The police are required to read the Miranda warning before questioning any suspect who has been taken into custody. This generally means that the suspect must have actually been arrested.
However, just because you haven’t been formally arrested does not mean that you have to speak to the police. In fact, if you are being questioned by the police about your involvement in a potential crime, you should stay silent regardless of whether or not you have been taken into custody. Pre-arrest statements can be used against you (and sometimes the police will read the Miranda warning pre-arrest just to make sure that your statements will be admissible in court).
What if the Police Didn’t Give Me the Miranda Warning?
If you were arrested and the police did not give you the Miranda warning, your statements cannot be used as evidence to prove that you are guilty at trial. Failure to read your rights does not mean that you cannot be prosecuted. In fact, statements obtained in violation of the Miranda rule can still be used under certain circumstances. For example, the prosecutor may be able to use your post-arrest statements to attack your credibility if you give inconsistent testimony on the witness stand.
This means that it is absolutely critical that you not say anything to the police if you are being investigated for involvement in a crime. Once you start talking, the Miranda rules can get complicated. It is better that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the law before making any statements to the police.
Contact Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Timothy Armstrong
If you have been arrested or have questions about your Miranda rights, contact the law offices of Timothy Armstrong, P.A.Read More