beers on a table insinuating a misdemeanor dui

A DUI charge doesn’t automatically equal a conviction — and a conviction doesn’t guarantee the harshest possible penalty. If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Florida, you may think that substantial punishment is inevitable. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Every person has the right to a defense, and you deserve an attorney who will fight for your best possible outcome. For anyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI, it’s important to find a reputable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

The right attorney could help you avoid severe penalties or even overcome the charges altogether. At Van Elswyk Law, our skilled team is committed to protecting the rights of our clients in Sarasota, Bradenton, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for a free consultation with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Florida DUI Laws

Prosecutors in the family-oriented state of Florida are tough on DUI charges, but they’re not impossible to beat. 

Our attorneys at Van Elswyk Law have substantial experience defending clients against DUI charges. We’ll help you choose the most effective line of defense and work with you to help protect your driving privileges. 

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Florida, it’s important to understand Florida DUI laws. Florida law dictates that a driver is considered to be under the influence if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, or if their “normal faculties” are otherwise impaired. 

Florida law enforcement officers use a device called a breathalyzer in order to determine a person’s BAC. However, when it comes to a person’s normal faculties being impaired, things get a bit more complicated. 

When are you impaired? 

A person’s normal faculties depend on their medical record, their mental health, and their physical condition. It can be incredibly challenging for a single law enforcement officer to immediately analyze and make a judgment on these three factors. That is why it’s essential to seek legal aid immediately if you are arrested for a DUI. 

The amount that a substance impairs your “normal faculties” is different for every person, regardless of whether you consumed:

  • Alcohol
  • A “hard” drug
  • A prescription pill 
  • A drug that’s legal in some states but not on a federal level, such as marijuana

For example, even if your blood alcohol level is lower than the legal Florida limit of .08%, the police are still able to arrest you for a DUI based on several factors. If a law enforcement officer notices visible factors like red eyes, slurred speech, or an inability to walk in a straight line, they may arrest you for a DUI regardless of your BAC. 

However, it’s possible that something other than a substance could be causing your visual symptoms. For instance, allergies can cause red eyes, and a medical condition may cause someone to slur their speech without impairing their driving abilities. 

In these cases, a defense attorney can be exceptionally valuable in helping you prove your innocence and protect your driving privileges. 

When is a DUI considered to be a misdemeanor?

A Florida court will generally label your DUI a misdemeanor if it is your first offense. Provided that you didn’t injure anyone or damage any property, the court may order the following penalties:

  • 10-day vehicle impoundment
  • A minimum of 50 hours of community service
  • Up to six months in jail
  • A substance abuse course
  • 180-day license suspension
  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • One year of probation

Even if this is your first DUI offense, however, the court may opt for more serious penalties in certain circumstances. 

Those circumstances can include situations where:

  • Your BAC is over .15%
  • Your driving caused injury to another person or people
  • Your driving caused property damage
  • You had a minor or child passenger in your vehicle while you were driving under the influence

If any of these circumstances apply to your situation, or if you’ve been convicted of one or more DUIs in the past, you are vulnerable to even harsher penalties. These include license revocation, a mandatory jail term or a longer probation term, and hefty fines.  

Contact Van Elswyk Law for Help You Can Count On Today

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you’ve been charged with a DUI, it doesn’t mean you are automatically convicted — especially when you have a dedicated DUI defense attorney on your side who can walk you through the process and protect your rights. 

Everyone is entitled to competent criminal defense. Whether you’re facing criminal charges or find yourself involved in a legal dispute, your first and most important step is to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. 

Our dedicated attorneys at Van Elswyk Law can provide you with a defense for DUI charges, as well as legal aid with security fraud charges, drug crime charges, and assault and battery charges. We also provide civil litigation services. 

No matter what you’re facing, contact Van Elswyk Law today for insight and expertise that you can count on.

Van Elswyk Law helps people with misdemeanor matters in Sarasota, Bradenton, Charlotte County, Hillsborough County, and Manatee County.