A person arrested for DUI often has little or no criminal record, and in many cases the driver arrested simply made a mistake. People make mistakes, but mistakes do not have to ruin a person's life. Other times, the arresting officer was wrong, and the person actually wasn't drunk or under the influence. DUI convictions carry several minimum mandatory penalties, and adjudication cannot be withheld. This means that any person who enters a plea to a DUI charge, or who is found guilty at trial by a judge or jury must be convicted. Convictions make it impossible to have your record expunged. It is imperative for anyone charged with DUI or DWI in Lake Worth to retain an experienced DUI lawyer who is capable of exploiting weaknesses in the prosecutor's case.
What happens to me if I am convicted for a first-time DUI in Lake Worth?
- A person convicted of a first DUI must at minimum:
- Be Placed on Probation for at least 6 months.
- Pay a minimum $500 fine.
- Lose their driving privileges for at least 6 months.
- Impound their vehicle for 10 days.
- Perform 50 hours of community service.
- Attend and listen to the Victim Impact Panel.
- Complete DUI School and follow any recommendations for counseling.
What happens to me if I am convicted for a second-time DUI in Lake Worth?
A person convicted of a second DUI must do all of the above. In addition, he or she must spend 10 days in jail if the second DUI arrest occurred within 5 years of the first DUI conviction.
What happens to my license after a DUI arrest in Lake Worth?
If you do not take the appropriate action, your license will get suspended 10 days after the arrest. We can help you retain your driving privileges (if you qualify) by making sure you get a hardship license to drive to and from work and school. If you do not act within 10 days, you will lose the ability to drive legally. Driving on a suspended license is never a good idea, and it's one of the most common DUI mistakes that can lead to serious repurcussions.
Do I have to plead guilty just because I was arrested?
Absolutely not. Always remember that it's the State of Florida's burden of proof to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle, and that you had a breath or blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or that your normal faculties were impaired. The State is charging you, and it's their job to prove it.
How can I defend a Lake Worth DUI charge?
This depends on the facts of your case. Each case is different. Many times, the government is simply unable to meet their burden of proof at trial. This results in a not guilty verdict and a dismissal of the charges. Again, each case is different and it's the DUI attorney's job to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of his client's case. Common examples include:
- Probable cause: The officer needs to have a reason to stop or arrest you. Lack of probably cause can be especially useful if you've been stopped at a checkpoint.
- Miranda Warning: If your Miranda Rights were not read to you at the right time, any potentially incriminating statements you made may be inadmissible in court.
- Observation period: Law enforcement officers are required to monitor you for 20 minutes following a breath test. If they don't, the results may be considered inadmissible.
- Evidence and testimony: If you're given a field sobriety test, a criminal defense attorney may be able to find something that contradicts the officer's testimony or written report with video evidence.
- Independent witnesses: Anyone who can attest to time frames, the amount of alcohol you consumed, or any lack of apparent impaired behavior may be able to provide testimony that supports your defense.
How do I reduce my DUI to reckless driving?
This again depends on the facts of your case. We can tell you whether or not you would be eligible, but ultimately that decision is made by the state attorney. For more information on “wet reckless” plea deals, read our blog post on how to get a DUI reduced to reckless driving.
Can I get a DUI for driving high on marijuana?
Yes, Florida law states that anyone under the influence of marijuana – even if it's for medicinal purposes – to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired can be arrested for driving under the influence. This is viewed similarly to driving under the influence of prescription drugs.
Will a DUI show up on a background check?
Yes, an arrest for DUI will show on a background check. This is because arrests are public record. A prospective employer can search for your name in the county clerk of court database to see if you have a dui arrest or conviction. Fortunately, Daniel Bottari, our DUI attorney, has had DUI charges dismissed for his clients. A DUI dismissal with no conviction is necessary to have a record sealed or expunged.
Will a DUI affect my current job?
Florida is an at-will state. An at will employee is defined by the National Conference of State Legislatures, “At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason except an illegal one.” An illegal reason would be terminating an employee's employment for discrimination. Therefore, an employer can absolutely fire someone for a DUI arrest. However, whether the employer chooses to fire the employee for a DUI arrest will likely depend on the type of the employee's job. For example, people are more likely to be fired for DUI if they work with kids, teach, drive professionally for a living (limo driver, taxi driver, commercial truck driver), work in a health-related field (nurses, doctors) or work in real estate.
Can I get a DUI if I wasn't driving?
Yes, Florida law states that a driver who is in “actual physical control of a vehicle” can be arrested and convicted for DUI if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired or with a BAL (breath alcohol level) of .08 or higher. At a DUI jury trial, the judge will read, “Actual physical control of a vehicle means the defendant must be physically in [or on] the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether [he] [she] is actually operating the vehicle at the time.” The rationale is that the state of Florida wants to prevent drunk or impaired drivers from ever getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Griffin v. State, 457 So. 2d 1070, 1071. (Fla 2d DCA, 1984).
As the court stated in Lamore v. Stateu, 983 So.2d 665, 668, “Clearly, there is a legitimate governmental interest in addressing the drunk driving problem by making it a crime to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired-thereby allowing an intoxicated person to be apprehended before he “strikes”.” The courts typically rely on a totality of the circumstances test to determine actual physical control. Those circumstances include: did the driver have possession of the car key? Was the defendant in the driver's seat? Was the vehicle operable? The location of the key is a big determining factor in assessing actual physical control.
Courts have found a defendant to be in actual physical control in the following scenarios:
- A person sleeping in the front seat of a parked car. The car engine was off, however the key was in the ignition switch. Fieselman v. State, 537 So.2d 603 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988).
- A person slumped over in the driver's seat with keys in hand. Baltrus v. State, 571 So.2d 75, 76.
- A driver alone in his vehicle with the keys in the glove compartment while on an interstate exit ramp. Mack v. State, 33 Fla. Supp. 2d 153 (Fla. 17th Cir. 1989). This case stands for the principle that constructive possession, not actual possession of a key, is sufficient to establish a driver's possession of the key. A driver has constructive possession of a key if, “he or she has knowledge of its presence and nature and the ability to maintain dominion and control over the object. These elements can be inferred from the exclusive possession of a car with the key.” State v. Odum. 862 So.2d 56. 59.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Lake Worth, call our office today for a FREE consultation.