Driving drunk in Seminole can lead to devastating consequences for victims and their families. However, the driver may also face severe repercussions if convicted of Driving Under the Influence. An experienced DUI Defense Attorney can assist drivers arrested for driving drunk with the administrative and criminal proceedings. Administrative proceedings go through the DMV, while the criminal proceedings go through the court system.
The DMV may suspend a driver’s license after being arrested for driving impaired. Losing driving privileges means the individual cannot drive to work or appointments. The DMV only has the power to suspend your license and cannot administer criminal penalties. Only the court system can do that. As soon as possible after an arrest, call an experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Seminole. Your lawyer may also help you by developing defenses, acquiring a hardship license, obtaining a formal review hearing, and more.
The criminal proceedings take place within the court system. The court system can find you guilty of a crime, order probation, sentence you to jail, and impose fines. During an arrest, the officer gives the driver a citation. This citation has a court date that states when and where you need to appear for your arraignment. If you are arrested in Seminole for a Misdemeanor, you will likely be required to appear at one of the traffic courthouses in Pinellas County. If you were arrested for a Felony in Pinellas County, you will still receive a citation to appear in Traffic Court. However, a Felony prosecutor will also be investigating the case. You will receive a charging document called an “Information.” The arraignment will then be scheduled in the Criminal Justice Center’s Felony division. An experienced attorney can typically go to court for you and waive your presence. We understand that your life must go on, so we do our best to keep you from attending court hearings unless absolutely necessary.
DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony?
While many DUIs are Misdemeanors, some can be prosecuted as Felonies. If you have had three prior Driving Under the Influence convictions or if someone was seriously injured or killed because you were driving while impaired, the DUI offense may become a Felony. The case may also go from Misdemeanor to Felony if you have had two drunk driving convictions and one occurred in the past ten years.
An experienced DUI Defense Attorney can help you understand what arraignment hearings and pre-trial conference hearings entail and whether you should attend. Your lawyer can also walk you through the circumstances that could reduce the charges from Driving Under the Influence to Reckless Driving or something other than an actual DUI. Experienced attorneys can also help clients understand the pros and cons of going to trial, mitigating sentences, and avoiding jail time, if possible.
Driver’s Licenses: Suspensions and Hardship Licenses
If an officer arrests you for driving drunk and you register a BAC of .08% or higher, the DMV will likely suspend your license for six months (one year if you have a prior DUI arrest). If you refuse a chemical test, this violates Florida’s implied consent laws, and you will also likely have your license suspended for one year (or 18 months if you have refused a test before). It’s a crime to refuse the breath test if you have a previous suspension for refusal. Even if your case does not go to criminal court, the DMV can still suspend your license.
The court system may also later suspend your license after a conviction for Driving Under the Influence in Seminole. For first-time convictions, you may be eligible for a hardship license. A hardship license permits an individual to drive to work, appointments, church, and school. Some drivers will need to wait a statutorily prescribed period before acquiring a hardship license. This waiting period depends on their BAC at the time of arrest. Talk to your DUI Defense Attorney about obtaining a hardship license.
Judges can adjudicate you guilty of a crime, sentence you to jail, impose fines, and place you on probation. The conditions of your DUI charge may vary based on your BAC and any prior convictions.
Trust a DUI Defense Attorney at McDermott Law Firm, P.A.
After an arrest in Pinellas County, call an experienced DUI Defense Attorney at McDermott Law Firm, P.A. in Seminole. Frank W. McDermott, Esquire, is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. He is also, per the Florida Bar, a specialist in Criminal Trial Law. Our firm has assisted clients at the Misdemeanor and Felony level.