If you have been arrested or charged locally for an alleged DUI offense, it is critical that you call an experienced West Palm Beach DUI lawyer as soon as possible. I am William Wallshein, a former prosecutor with 5 years’ experience turned defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the Florida criminal justice system. Throughout my 29 years of experience in criminal law, I have noticed that one of the most common charges West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens residents face is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or “DUI” as it is commonly referred to. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, there can be serious penalties ranging from suspension of a driver’s license to imprisonment. With stakes this high, time is of the essence in responding to DUI allegations, and seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.Driving Under the Influence
Under Florida law, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the case of alcohol, anyone found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08% is considered to be legally intoxicated. For minors under the legal drinking age of 21, the “legal limit” is .02%.
Any quantity of illegal drugs in a driver’s bloodstream can give rise to a DUI charge. In fact, even if the driver was prescribed a drug legally, that driver may still be considered to be under the influence of drugs and charged with a DUI if operating a vehicle under those circumstances.
In some cases, people have been cited for DUI when they were not even driving a car, but were found to be in “actual physical control of the car.” For instance, this might mean that the car was on the side of the road, not running, but with the keys in the ignition. The bottom line is that any DUI charge is serious and requires the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
DUI penalties in Florida can be severe, and escalate quickly after the first offense.
First offenders can face the following consequences:
- A fine ranging from $500 and $1,000;
- DUI school;
- License suspension; and
- A maximum of up to 6 months imprisonment.
Second-time offenders generally face more severe penalties, potentially including:
- A fine between $1,000 and $2,000;
- A maximum of 9 months imprisonment; and
- A mandatory Interlock Ignition Device (IID) installed at the driver’s expense.
A driver’s third DUI in any ten-year period is an automatic felony and is taken very seriously by the courts. A first time felony-offender can face:
- A fine of up to $5,000;
- A maximum of 5 years imprisonment; and
- A mandatory Interlock Ignition Device (IID) installed and maintained at the driver’s expense for 2 years.
The fines and penalties listed above do not necessarily reflect the impact of any injury or property damage that the driver may have caused while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver does cause injury to a person or damages another’s property, an entirely separate offense may result, meaning that the driver could be subject to additional punishment.What To Do if You Have Been Charged With a DUI
If you are facing DUI charges, you need to act quickly. In Florida, those charged with DUI have only 10 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you do not request a hearing within this time period, there is little chance of preventing an automatic suspension of driving privileges until your case goes to trial.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI offense, you should consult with an established Florida criminal defense attorney immediately. I have over 29 years of criminal law experience. I will pursue all available defenses, and will challenge all aspects of the prosecution’s case, such as evidence obtained through illegal traffic stops. I am a passionate, knowledgeable defender of the accused, and will not rest until I have done everything possible to defend your rights and your freedom. With offices in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, I represent clients in criminal defense matters throughout South Florida. Call 561-533-1221 today, or contact my firm online to schedule your free initial consultation.