Tampa Attorney for DUI Defense
Affordable DUI Attorney Tampa: If you or someone you know has been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (aka drunk driving), it is important to speak with a Tampa DUI Lawyer right away. At the Law Office of William B. Wynne, when we take on a DUI case, we aim to get the charges dismissed. It is always our goal to beat the case.
DUI Attorney Tampa: At the Law Office of William B. Wynne, we have over 10 years of experience in defending DUI cases of all different types, including enhanced DUI charges, felony DUI charges, drug DUI charges, juvenile DUI charges, and more. We often pursue motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss, the reduction of charges, and not-guilty verdicts.
Florida DUI Basics
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 D.U.I. affects people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, and from all income levels.
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 has handled all these types of cases before.
In Florida you are considered over the limit, when your “blood alcohol concentration” (BAC) is greater than .08. More specifically, Florida Statute section 316.193—the applicable legal statute governing DUI—tells us that 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, Fla. Stat. (2019).
Certain drivers face even stricter requirements and penalties. For example, Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Drivers under 21 can be arrested and charged with underage DUI if their BAC is just .02 or higher. Further, commercial drivers can be arrested and charged with DUI if their BAC is .04 or higher. Tampa DUI Lawyer William B. Wynne has handled dozens of these cases over the years.
As most people know, a DUI is much more than just a traffic ticket. It is a very serious criminal offense that can have lifelong consequences.
Generally, a law enforcement officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop or detain a suspect, and they need probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. “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). So, 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. 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.
DUI in Florida: Consequences
The crime of Driving Under the Influence is a serious criminal offense that can have lifelong consequences. 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. Yes, 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
The Florida legislature—in Florida Statutes section 316.656—has specifically made it unlawful to receive a withhold of adjudication for the charge of DUI. For those that aren’t legal experts, this means (in a nutshell) that your D.U.I. case will stay on your record for life, unless you can get it dropped, dismissed, or reduced, 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.
Harsh DUI Minimum Penalties
Under Florida Statute 316.193, if you are arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence, and it is your first offense—assuming you are unable to get the case dropped or reduced—you will be facing harsh minimum sentence requirements. This means that if you are found guilty, the judge has no choice but to sentence you to these requirements as established by law. They cannot lawfully give you less.
First-time Florida D.U.I. Penalties:
- 6 months to 1 year of probation (Roughly $60/Month)
- Attendance at DUI school ($231)
- 50 hours of community service
- Impoundment of your vehicle for 10 days
- $500 fine plus court costs
- 6-month driver license suspension
- If the DUI case involves an accident or a blood-alcohol-concentration of greater than .15, the penalties will be enhanced.
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.
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 in Florida
Most of our clients initially want to know if it is possible to get the charges dropped or reduced, or to get the case dismissed completely. The answers to these inquiries are highly case specific, and require an analysis of several factors. For starters, getting a case dropped requires either a prosecutor to drop the charges, or for a judge to dismiss the case. Each requires a different approach.
Getting a prosecutor to drop or reduce charges is typically a negotiated process. Often, a skilled attorney will investigate a case thoroughly and then convince a prosecutor to drop or reduce the charges by pointing out the weaknesses in their case. Mitigating factors, like the defendant’s background, their role and involvement in the community, prior military and volunteer service, and many others, can also be helpful in this process.
DUI Attorney Tampa: On the other hand, getting a judge to dismiss the charges is often done (or attempted) through legal maneuvering with the court. Typically, pre-trial motions are used, like motions to dismiss, motions in limine, and motions to suppress evidence. A motion to suppress evidence is a legal challenge raised by a defense attorney, that asks a judge to dismiss evidence that was obtained in violation of a defendant’s rights. Another tool in the defense lawyer’s arsenal, is a motion to dismiss. This is a legal challenge that asserts that even if everything the prosecutor alleges is true, there is insufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the crime.
As a DUI attorney, when I take on a DUI case, I aim to get the charges dismissed. It is my goal to beat the case.
Some 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.
DUI ATTORNEY TAMPA: 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
Speak to a Tampa DUI Attorney
Now, more than ever, it is important to retain an experienced and aggressive Tampa criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of William B. Wynne for experienced advice and aggressive representation. Consultations are free of charge. 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. Let us serve you!