DUI FAQ | Top Rated Defense Attorneys in Clearwater, FL

If you or someone you know have been arrested and are now facing criminal charges for DUI, you likely have questions regarding your case.

Our team has handled thousands of DUI cases, and our goal is to provide you with some of the answers and insight you're seeking. We've compiled some of the most common questions our attorneys get asked and will answer them below.

What is a DUI?

To be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the state must prove that the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicating substance to the extent that normal faculties are impaired.  Additionally, the state must prove that the individual was in actual physical control of the vehicle.

What are normal faculties?

Law enforcement uses field sobriety exercises to determine whether a person's normal faculties are impaired.  The types of exercises are commonly known as the walk and turn test, one leg stand, and finger to nose.  The exercises are meant to demonstrate one's ability to balance, stand up without swaying, and follow instructions.

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI?

There is no difference.  Different states use different terms.  Florida uses Driving Under the Influence while some state use Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

What is a DUI Misdemeanor vs Felony?

A DUI is generally considered a misdemeanor charge in the state of Florida.  However, there are numerous ways that a DUI can become a felony.  A third DUI arrest with two prior convictions may result in the state filing a felony DUI charge.  If an individual causes serious bodily injury during the course of driving under the influence, he or she will be charged with a felony.  If the person causes a death while driving under the influence, he or she will be charged with DUI Manslaughter and face more serious felony penalties including prison time.

What is a DUI checkpoint?

DUI checkpoints are often organized during holidays such as Christmas and Labor Day.  Law enforcement officers in Pinellas County call it the wolf pack.  Officers will set up at specific locations and look out for individuals who may be driving under the influence.  Typically, the stops will correspond with traffic violations leading to a DUI investigation if suspected.

What is the defense against a DUI?

There are numerous defenses an experienced attorney may assert on a client's behalf.  We first look at the discovery to ensure that there are no procedural violations.  Often times, procedures are not followed calling into question the entire investigation.  This presents numerous problems for the state and a prosecutor may be more willing to negotiate.  If the defendant provided a breath sample, that sample can be challenged if the proper protocol was not followed.  Additionally, the breathalyzers must be maintained and tested periodically.  If there is any indication that was not done or the records reflect issues with the functioning of the breathalyzer, the breath sample may be thrown out or challenged before a jury.  Through the use of experts, we can often challenge the BAC depending on various factors such as time of test related to amount and time of alcohol intake.  There are numerous defenses no discussed here but our experienced DUI attorneys will explore them all and determine which ones are most likely to apply to your case.

How long is a DUI driver's license suspension?

The length of your suspension is directly related to the number of DUI's you have.  The judge has little discretion over the length of the suspension as the terms are set forth by the Florida Statutes.  A first time DUI is typically going to result in a 6-month suspension.  However, if the DUI is coupled with a refusal, the suspension will be one year with a period of time where a hardship is not allowed.  Consult with an attorney regarding available options to obtain a hardship license such as signing up for DUI school.

Does a DUI stay on your driving record?

Yes. A DUI conviction will remain on your driving record as well as your criminal record.

What are the typical sentences/case outcomes for a DUI?

Courts are likely to stay within the statutory guidelines for DUI conviction which are determined by the number of DUIs an individual has been previously convicted of with few exceptions.  Aggravating factors may result in a harsher sentence with additional non-statutory conditions or longer jail time.

When arrested for a DUI, how long will I be in jail?

The typical time an individual is in jail is 24 hours or less.  The ultimate factor determining when one will be released is how long does it take a person to dry up.  In other words, if you are taken into custody, you will not be able to immediately bond out. 

Will I have a criminal record if I get a DUI?

Yes. DUIs are criminal traffic charges that require a conviction.

If you're looking for representation for your DUI case, please contact our office for a free case evaluation where we can discuss the facts of your case and any additional questions you may have. Call us today!

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Powers Sellers & Finkelstein is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense law issues in Florida. We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.