Tampa DUI Lawyer

Driving Under the Influence

Tampa Attorney for DUI Defense

If you or a loved one has been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), immediate consultation with a skilled Tampa DUI Lawyer is crucial. At the Law Office of William B. Wynne, we are Tampa DUI Lawyers committed to delivering optimal outcomes in DUI cases. Our track record spans over a decade in handling a diverse spectrum of DUI cases, including enhanced DUI, felony DUI, prescription drug-related DUI, juvenile DUI cases, and more. As seasoned DUI attorneys in Tampa, our strategy often includes filing motions to suppress evidence, seeking dismissal of charges, negotiating reduced charges, and striving for acquittal.

It is estimated that around 32,177 people were arrested for DUI in 2018. The total number of DUI arrests across the entire state has seen a downward trend over the past few years. Even so, Hillsborough County still leads the state in injuries and fatalities as the result of driving under the influence. The crime of DUI affects people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, and from all income levels.

Tampa DUI Lawyer: The Basics

Florida law defines the crime of DUI as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance. Though most DUI charges involve the consumption of alcohol, impairment can also be caused by narcotics and/or prescription drugs. Even your own prescription medications can be the basis for DUI charges. Tampa DUI lawyer William B. Wynne brings extensive experience managing a wide range of DUI cases, encompassing scenarios involving alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications.

Tampa DUI Lawyer

DUI Attorney Tampa: Chemical Testing

Section 316.193, Florida Statutes (2023) sets forth the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence in Florida. Under section 316.193, a person is guilty of DUI when that person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. § 316.193(1)(a)-(c), Fla. Stat. (2023). You are considered over the limit, when your “blood alcohol concentration” (BAC) is greater than .08. Id.

Tampa Florida drivers can face even stricter requirements and penalties in certain situations. For example, Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. In fact, in addition to prosecution under section 316.193, drivers under 21 can face penalties and license suspensions if their BAC is just .02 or higher. § 322.2616, Fla. Stat. (2023). Further, commercial drivers can be arrested and charged with DUI if their BAC is .04 or higher. § 322.61, Fla. Stat. (2023). Tampa DUI lawyer William B. Wynne brings a wealth of experience in dealing with numerous cases involving these specialized DUI situations.

Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause DUI Cases

In order for a traffic stop for an infraction or a crime to be proper, the police must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, or probable cause to believe a traffic infraction has been committed.” Jones v. State, 842 So. 2d 889 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003). This means that to investigate a driver for suspicion of DUI, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is in actual physical control of a vehicle and that they are impaired. Remember, this is simply the requirement to stop and investigate a driver, not to make an arrest. Placing a suspect under arrest for DUI requires a bit more.

Throughout the years, several court decisions have clarified what constitutes reasonable suspicion. A bare suspicion or a mere hunch is insufficient. Popple v. State, 626 So. 2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993). In determining whether sufficient evidence to support a well-founded suspicion exists, a court should consider all facts known by police at the time of the stop. Bartlett v. State, 508 So. 2d 567, 568 (Fla. 2d DCA 1987). Reasonable suspicion is a comparatively low standard and can be easily met if an officer observes one or more indicators of impairment—like a clumsy or erratic driving pattern, the smell of alcohol, bloodshot watery eyes, etc. In numerous Tampa DUI cases, reasonable suspicion has been established through erratic driving, slurred speech, or difficulty in communicating with officers. Often, reasonable suspicion simply gives an officer an opportunity to develop probable cause, which then allows the officer to make an arrest.

Probable cause—on the other hand—requires a little more than reasonable suspicion. Probable cause is a set of circumstances that may lead a law enforcement officer to reasonably believe that a crime has been (or is being) committed. To initiate a DUI arrest, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver is committing the crime of DUI. The Florida Supreme Court defines probable cause as “a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to warrant a cautious person in the belief that the person is guilty of the offense charged.” Dunnavant v. State, 46 So. 2d 871 (Fla. 1950). Consequently, probable cause for a DUI arrest must be based upon more than a belief that a driver has consumed alcohol; it must arise from facts and circumstances that show a probability that a driver is impaired by alcohol or has an unlawful amount of alcohol in his system. State v. Kliphouse, 771 So. 2d 16 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).

Typically, a combination of several factors constitutes probable cause. These can include an erratic or clumsy driving pattern, the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, difficulty maintaining balance, admissions, bloodshot watery eyes, and many more. A skilled Tampa DUI lawyer can challenge the determination of probable cause or reasonable suspicion in a DUI case by filing and arguing a motion to suppress evidence, which can lead to the dismissal of charges.

To initiate a DUI arrest, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver is committing the crime of DUI.

Affordable DUI Attorney Tampa: The Consequences

For Tampa drivers facing DUI charges, it’s crucial to understand the lifelong consequences that can ensue. The penalties associated with the crime of DUI have seen a steady increase over the past 20 years as society has recognized the dangers of impaired drivers. Even a first-time offender faces severe minimum penalties. This means that if you are unable to get the charges dropped or reduced, the judge has no choice but to sentence you to the minimum penalties.

Most DUI cases are misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine from $500.00 to $1,000.00 and can include a one-year license suspension and 6 months of imprisonment. That means jail time is possible—even on a first offense. In addition, DUI penalties include a 10-day vehicle impoundment and up to one year of probation.

No Withhold of Adjudication on DUI Charges

Under section 316.656, Florida Statutes, the Florida legislature made it unlawful for a court to withhold of adjudication on a DUI offense. This means that your DUI case cannot be sealed or expunged and will stay with you for life, unless you can get it dropped, dismissed, or reduced to a lesser offense, and you are otherwise eligible to seal or expunge your record. For more details, see our expungement & sealing page. These factors underscore the importance of retaining an experienced Tampa DUI Lawyer.

DUI Minimum Penalties Are Not Minimal

The state of Florida has stringent minimum penalties for DUI offenders. If you’re convicted of Driving Under the Influence, even if it’s your first offense and you have to prior record, you will be facing harsh minimum sentence requirements. This means that if you’re found guilty, the judge has no choice but to sentence you to these requirements as established by law. In other words, the judge cannot lawfully give you less. As a Tampa DUI Lawyer with over 10 years of experience, William B. Wynne is very experienced in negotiating these harsh consequences.

First-Time Florida D.U.I. Penalties

  • Jail Time: For most first-time offenders, the maximum jail time is 6 months. However, if the driver had a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, the maximum jail time is increased to 9 months.
  • Probation: 6-12 months of probation.
  • License Revocation: A first offense leads to a license revocation of a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 1 year.
  • Fines: A first-time DUI conviction will result in fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. This range increases to $1,000 to $2,000 if the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or higher or if a minor was present in the vehicle.
  • Vehicle Immobilization: The offender’s vehicle will be impounded for 10 days, which cannot be concurrent with jail time.
  • Other Penalties: Mandatory 50 Hours of Community Service. DUI School which includes substance abuse evaluation and follow treatment.

First-Time DUI Penalties Table

And remember, in going over the minimum penalties, we are assuming a best-case scenario. You can receive jail time even on a first-time DUI, depending on the circumstances. If you wish to avoid these penalties, speak with a Tampa DUI lawyer about your options.

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Florida DUI Drug Charges

While most DUI cases involve alcohol, you can also be charged with Driving Under the Influence for being under the influence of drugs, which can even include your own prescription medications. Remember, Florida law defines DUI as being under the influence of alcohol or a chemical substance, while operating a motor vehicle. In theory, any narcotic or drug that could potentially impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, could be the basis for a DUI charge. Common drugs that lead to DUI charges include opiates, benzodiazepines like Xanax, ADHD stimulant medications like Adderall, cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana.

DUI drug charges are often complex and can be more difficult to prosecute than alcohol related DUI charges, but the penalties are essentially the same. The complexity stems partly from the fact that intoxication via drugs does not register on a blood alcohol test. Instead, it is typically determined circumstantially through field sobriety exercises, and the presence of the drug in urine or blood tests. The presence of chemical substances detected in the human body requires complex scientific inquiry, and often leads to evidentiary obstacles for a prosecutor. An experienced lawyer can recognize and exploit these weaknesses.

Defenses to DUI Charges in Tampa Florida

Many of our clients come to us with pressing questions: Is it possible to get the charges dropped or reduced? Can the case be dismissed altogether? The answers to these questions are highly specific to each case and require a detailed analysis of multiple factors. However, an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer can explore a range of defenses to address these charges effectively.

Getting a prosecutor to drop or reduce charges often involves a negotiated process. With our extensive experience and knowledge in Tampa DUI cases, we meticulously investigate every aspect of the case. Our aim is to convince the prosecutor to drop or reduce the charges by highlighting weaknesses in their case. Various mitigating factors, such as the defendant’s background, community involvement, prior military and volunteer service, among others, can also be instrumental in this negotiation.

On the flip side, achieving a dismissal of the charges usually involves legal tactics within the court system. With our extensive experience as Tampa DUI lawyers, we frequently utilize pre-trial motions like “motions to dismiss” and “motions in limine”, as well as “motions to suppress evidence.” A motion to suppress evidence challenges the legality of how evidence was obtained, requesting the judge to dismiss such evidence if it violates a defendant’s rights. Another common tactic is a motion to dismiss, which argues that even if all the prosecutor’s allegations are true, the evidence is insufficient to convict the defendant.

Aggressive Tampa DUI Attorney

A. Specific DUI Defenses

Any criminal case can have numerous defenses. A skilled Tampa DUI defense attorney will exploit all available defenses and leverage them into an overall strategy.

Common DUI Defenses

  • No reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigation for driving under the influence.
  • No probable cause to initiate a traffic stop of a motor vehicle on the roadways.
  • No probable cause to place a suspect under arrest for the crime of driving under the influence.        
  • The breath test failed to comply with the standards set for in the Florida Administrative Code.
  • Lack of actual physical control of the vehicle. Meaning there is insufficient proof that the suspect was driving the motor vehicle at the time of impairment.
  • Insufficient evidence of impairment.
  • Unreliable test results.
  • Breath test results inadmissible.
  • DUI checkpoint failed to adhere to legal standards.
  • Police investigator failed to give Miranda Warnings

Consult with a Trusted Tampa DUI Attorney

Now, more than ever, it is important to retain an experienced and aggressive Tampa DUI Lawyer. For over 10 years we’ve served Tampa residents accused of DUI. We fight hard to protect the rights of our clients, and to avoid the harsh consequences associated with these charges. Contact the Law Office of William B. Wynne today at 813-532-5057. Consultations are free of charge.