Given the inherent dangers of driving under the influence, prosecutors in Florida strictly enforce DUI laws. Being arrested does not mean you will be automatically convicted, as long as you have an experienced DUI defense attorney in your corner. That’s where Van Elswyk Law can assist you.
Our firm has extensive experience defending clients against DUI charges in Sarasota, Bradenton, and the surrounding area and works to achieve positive outcomes in administrative proceedings and jury trials. If you are facing DUI charges, attorney Van Elswyk will choose the best line of defense and work to protect your driving privileges. Contact our Nokomis office today to get started.
What You Need to Know About Florida DUI Laws
Florida law defines driving under the influence (DUI) as driving while having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, or driving while your “normal faculties” are impaired. BAC is generally determined by a machine called an Intoxilizer that must be maintained in accordance with strict standards to ensure the reliability of the results. While law enforcement might think “normal faculties” is the same for all, it’s not; your “normal faculties” depends on your medical, mental health, and physical condition.
Notably, you may be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol level is lower than the legal limit based on observations of police about your appearance or behavior, like red eyes or slurred speech. Similarly, the police might arrest you if they detect the odor of alcohol or marijuana or find an open container in your vehicle.
Additionally, licensed drivers fall under the state’s implied consent law: anyone issued a driver’s license agrees to submit to a chemical test of their BAC (e.g. breathalyzer, blood test) if stopped by police for suspicion of DUI. Your license may be suspended if you refuse to submit to testing; you must request an administrative hearing before the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) within 10 days of your arrest to appeal the suspension. And if you have refused to submit in the past, you could be charged with an additional misdemeanor for a second or subsequent refusal.
Your license will be suspended for up to 18 months if you fail to request a hearing, so contacting an experienced Sarasota DUI defense attorney immediately after your arrest is crucial. Van Elswyk Law is prepared to represent you at the hearing and help preserve your driving privileges until your criminal case goes to trial.
DUI Penalties in Florida
Penalties for a DUI conviction are determined by BAC, whether you have prior DUIs, whether any person or property was hurt or damaged, and sometimes based on who was in the vehicle with you. A first-offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- 1 year of probation
- Possible fine between $500 to $1000
- 180-day license suspension
- At least 50 hours of community service
- Mandatory participation in a substance abuse course (DUI school)
- 10-day vehicle impoundment
The penalties are more severe for having a BAC over .15 or for driving under the influence with a passenger who is a minor. The penalties for second or multiple DUIs may include mandatory jail sentences, substantial fines, longer license suspension or revocation, probation, and mandatory installation of an Interlock Ignition Device on your vehicle.
Felony DUI Defense
Van Elswyk Law defends clients against felony DUI offenses in Sarasota, including:
- DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury – Causing or contributing to a personal injury of another while driving under the influence is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison or 5 years probation, maximum fines of $5,000, and restitution to compensate the victim for their losses.
- DUI Manslaughter – Causing or contributing to the death of another, including an unborn child, while driving under the influence can be charged as a second-degree felony. Those charged can face a 15-year prison sentence, 15-year probation, and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
How Van Elswyk Law Can Help With Your DUI Case
Attorney Van Elswyk will conduct a thorough investigation to understand the facts of your arrest: Did the police have probable cause to pull you over? Did the police properly administer breathalyzer or field sobriety tests? Was there another reason for your alleged impaired driving, such as fatigue or a medical condition?
Van Elswyk Law has an impressive record of achieving acquittals and reduced charges in DUI cases and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. A first DUI offense is serious because a misdemeanor conviction will jeopardize your driving privileges and leave you with a permanent criminal record. A felony DUI conviction can lead to the loss of your freedom.
With so much at stake, having the powerful representation Van Elswyk Law provides is essential. As a prosecutor, Brice Van Elswyk won a substantial “Daubert” motion to approve the use of HGN in field sobriety tests. Today, he has developed proven strategies to challenge these tests and other evidence collected by law enforcement. Above all, he will work to protect your rights and driving privileges.
Contact Our Experienced Sarasota DUI Defense Attorney
Despite the dangers of drunk or drugged driving, good people make mistakes. If you have been charged with DUI, trust Brice Van Elswyk to protect your rights, driving privileges, and future. Contact our experienced DUI defense lawyer today to discuss your DUI case in confidence.
Van Elswyk Law defends clients against DUI charges in Sarasota, Bradenton, and the surrounding area, including Charlotte County, Hillsborough County, and Manatee County.