DUI

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unhappy person after getting a dui in floridaDUI defense is complex. You do need an experienced and aggressive attorney who knows how to fight these extremely difficult cases.

Our DUI attorneys attend specialized seminars on a regular basis to keep updated on the fine details of effective and creative DUI defenses. Our experience and training have helped us get many cases dismissed or reduced. Our firm has had many cases dismissed or reduced even though a person gave a breath result reading well over the legal limit of .08.

Challenging the basis of the stop is the first line of defense Our Attorneys will take in your case. If the officer didn’t have a legal reason to pull you over in the first place, then the incriminating evidence in your case may be dismissed, thus making your whole DUI charge go away. (the incriminating evidence would be everything the State Attorney (or Prosecutor) would use against you) such as breath reading results, blood test results, videotape evidence and testimony from the officers that you appeared intoxicated and/or failed field sobriety exercises. Sometimes it is a close call on whether a judge would dismiss your case based on the Motion to Suppress filed. In those circumstances, getting your case reduced is likely. A reduction of a DUI to Reckless or Careless driving is a victory in many cases.

Some people think because the Officer said they were swerving or because they got into an accident that the stop challenge is not going to be successful. This is not always the case. Many legal defenses exist that need to be explored in your case. Don’t assume anything, and get qualified counsel to represent you. Florida DUI penalties are very serious. From the threat of jail time to excessive increases in your car insurance, don’t leave your future to chance. Hamilton Law Services can provide the quality representation that you need at a price you can afford. Call now to speak with the best DUI lawyer. You can also request a free initial consultation.

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I Just Got a DUI, Can I Drive?

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People may be telling you to go to the DMV within 10 days.  What is this about?

When you were arrested for DUI, if your license was taken from you it is because it became suspended.  If you blew over a .08, it was suspended, or if you refused the breathalyzer it was suspended.  If you were arrested for DUI and blew under a .08 and provided a urine sample, it is likely your license was not confiscated or suspended and this information does not apply to you at this time.

Once your license is suspended for DUI based on breath results over the legal limit of .08 or refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, within 10 days of the DUI arrest, you have a few options.

THE WAIVER REVIEW

If you have never been convicted for DUI before, you may apply for a WAIVER REVIEW at the DHSMV or BAR (Bureau of Administrative Review) in the county where you received a DUI.  You must sign up for DUI School in the county where you reside, and bring proof of enrollment to the BAR within 10 days to the DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles) and petition for a hardship license.  The hearing costs $25.00.

If you are eligible, you will receive a hardship license.

WHAT IS THE DOWNSIDE TO DOING A WAIVER REVIEW?

While a waiver review is a great way to ensure your ability to drive for work purposes is not interrupted, you are giving up certain rights and should be aware of certain rights you are waiving by doing this.

If you opt for a waiver review, you waive your right to contest the suspension of your license.  If there is a potential defense to the suspension of your license, for example, your constitutional rights were violated, you waive the right to challenge this, including having an attorney subpoena and question law enforcement at a BAR hearing.  Speaking with an attorney experienced in DUI defense is important during this 10 day period.  There are times that a transcript of the BAR hearing can be used in your courtroom DUI defense, either at a motion to suppress or trial.  The BAR hearing statement is usually the only chance your attorney can question the law enforcement officer, under oath, about the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI stop and investigation.  Florida law does not allow depositions in misdemeanors without prior court approval.  So in most cases, this BAR hearing is the only way your attorney can get the equivalent of a deposition.

BENEFITS AND RISKS TO HAVING YOUR ATTORNEY DO A FORMAL REVIEW HEARING

If you opt out of a waiver review, your attorney can apply for a temporary permit within 10 days of your citation.  This will allow you to drive for business purposes only for 42 days.

During this 42 day period, your attorney will attend a formal review hearing to challenge the suspension of your license.  At this hearing, as mentioned in this article, your attorney will question the law enforcement officer, under oath, about the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI investigation and arrest.

At the conclusion of your hearing, your attorney will argue to the BAR hearing officer that your driver license suspension should be invalidated and your driving privileges should be reinstated.  Because many such requests are denied, you need to be aware of what happens.

If the BAR hearing officer denies the request to invalidate the suspension and

YOU BLEW:  you are facing a 30 day suspension (hard suspension) of any driving privileges before you can apply for a hardship.

YOU REFUSED: you are facing a 90 day “hard suspension” (no driving for any reason) before you can apply for a hardship.

Hard suspension times begin the day after your 42 day temporary driving permit expires.

Although it is beneficial for your lawyer to get a sworn statement from law enforcement, you need to be aware of what happens if the request for invalidation of the suspension is denied.

 

Driving on a DUI citation.

If your driver’s license was valid at the time of your DUI, then likely you are able to drive on the DUI citation for 10 days.  Check the DUI citation to make sure.  The citation will usually have at the bottom a check mark stating that the driver license was surrendered and that you are eligible for a permit.  It may also have language at the bottom stating the citation is good to drive on for 10 days.

For the 10 day period, the citation allows you to drive for any purpose, business or personal.

The Civil process around your driver’s license following a DUI arrest can be complicated.  It is advisable to talk to an attorney knowledgeable in DUI defense to discuss the pros and cons of your choices.  Hamilton Law provides free evaluations.

HELP, I’VE BEEN ARRESTED FOR DUI!

Getting arrested for DUI is an event that can happen to almost anyone. This doesn’t mean you are “bad” or a “criminal,” although you may feel like one after your experience with the police and jail. DUI’s happen many times to middle and upper class professionals who have never been arrested for anything. Many times people should not have been arrested for DUI in the first place.

Healing from the trauma of being arrested for DUI takes time. While you attend to your needs and move forward taking care of YOU, leaving the legal details to an attorney you feel comfortable and confident with is necessary.

Rebecca has been handling DUI cases for almost 15 years. From her humble beginnings as an Assistant Public Defender litigating DUI’s, she is now a highly trained attorney licensed by the Florida Bar Association who regularly attends seminars focused solely on DUI defense, taught by the best DUI defense attorneys in the State of Florida. She has had countless DUI’s reduced to lesser Reckless Driving charges and had many result in the sealing of the arrest from one’s record. Some she has managed to get thrown out even before they go to trial. She has also litigated DUI’s at trial.

DUI AND RAMIFICATIONS IN COURT – AM I GOING TO JAIL?

police in mirror after getting a dui in st petersburg imageUsually first time DUI’s do not involve jail time, unless there was a child in the vehicle or there was an accident. It really all depends on the evidence and the “victims” involved. Some are more vocal than others and can influence an outcome.

For a first DUI, the maximum penalty for DUI is 6 months in county jail. This is a maximum and would be unusual for a first time offender, unless you are convicted by a jury and have aggravating circumstances. A second DUI within 5 years from a previous conviction will result in a MINIMUM ten day jail sentence upon conviction; a third DUI within 10 years of the last conviction will result in a felony and a minimum of 30 days jail upon conviction (maximum 5 years prison).

More enhanced penalties apply if your blow was over .15, upon conviction, such as a higher fine and a mandatory ignition interlock device.

Even though the likelihood of a jail sentence upon a first conviction in exchange for a guilty plea is not highly likely, getting your case reduced or thrown out is VERY UNLIKELY, almost impossible, without the help of an experienced lawyer. A DUI comes with exorbitant increases in automobile insurance and cannot be removed from an arrest record because a conviction is required. Always consult with a lawyer and do not go into court without one.

YOU BLEW A .08 or ABOVE

Blowing a .08 or above on the breathalyzer machine (the Intoxilyzer 8000) results in a Presumption of Impairment that a Prosecutor (aka State Attorney) can argue to a jury against you. This means they will argue that you are “presumed impaired.” This is a daunting standard, however, this is a REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION (meaning evidence can be used to contradict the presumption of impairment). Rebecca knows how to rebut this presumption with evidence of you on a video doing field sobriety tests (assuming you managed them well or fairly well, or if there are reasons why you didn’t do so well- ie injuries, medical conditions). This presumption can also be rebutted by evidence of problems with the particular Intoxilyzer machine you used, or the way it was used by the machine operator. Records exist and are maintained by FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) which track how your particular machine has performed in the past. Regular scheduled maintenance records can be analyzed with a critical eye for problems. A machine that has had problems in the past is helpful if your blow seems higher than it should have been.

handcuffs and drink symbol for florida dui

YOU BLEW BELOW A .08 and THEY TOOK A URINE SAMPLE

If you blew below a .08 a urine sample was likely taken from you, unless you refused that. If you provided a urine sample, that sample will be sent to a lab for analysis to see if there was a controlled substance present. You likely did not have your driver’s license taken. In this scenario, you would not need to petition the DMV for a temporary license or a Formal Review hearing. However, always verify this with your attorney before failing to follow the ten day protocol with the DMV.

Depending on what the lab report of the urine sample shows, you may or may not end up with a good defense to DUI. Never plead guilty to a DUI without having a lawyer analyze your urine results. Drug DUI’s (when they use your urine sample against you) are an area where Rebecca has good success in getting DUI’s reduced or dropped altogether. It can be very difficult for a prosecutor to go forward with a DUI based on urine results because the concentration of controlled substance can be hard to quantify. It is also challenging for a prosecutor to establish to what extent you may have been under the influence of a controlled substance. Metabolites (or particles of a controlled substance) may be the only thing showing in your urine, meaning the substance could have been injested days prior to the DUI arrest. Also, half-lives apply, and experts can testify that the drug likely would have worn off by the time of the DUI arrest. Drug DUI’s can be prosecuted whether the drug is prescribed or not.

Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s) may have been used by the police agency. These are officers who receive extensive training in examining the effects of a controlled substance on a person. Their testimony needs to be analyzed and cross-examined by attorneys, as their observations can be incorrect. Rebecca once had a police report where the DRE officer reported the person was under the influence of a particular controlled substance, only to learn later that the urine sample came back clean.

YOU REFUSED THE BREATHALYZER

top dui attorney imageRefusing the breathalyzer can either work to your benefit, or detriment in a DUI defense. If you refused and would have blown under the legal limit, obviously, that evidence would have likely exonerated you (proven your innocence). One of the practical disadvantages of a Refusal is that your period of time you may suffer not having a license can increase. Another problem is that a prosecutor can lawfully argue to a jury that your refusal to submit to a breathalyzer shows “consciousness of guilt.” This argument, however, can be rebutted by testimony by a defendant, (person charged with DUI) explaining that they refused the test for other reasons.

Many times however, a Refusal works to people’s benefit because the hard, scientific evidence of DUI simply is not there. The field sobriety exercises (or the DUI video), becomes the “best evidence” of your level of sobriety at that moment. If you look and sound sober, even if you are not perfect on the exercises, your defense is stronger. Jurors understand that most people couldn’t do those exercises “even if they were sober” many potential jurors understand.

I WANT TO TAKE MY CASE TO TRIAL

Florida Statute section 316.193 controls DUI. In order to be convicted of DUI, the State Attorney must present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the extent that your “normal faculties were impaired.” This evidence can be the breath test, video, or even just testimony from an officer.

When you hire Rebecca to defend your DUI, before a decision is made to go to trial, you will be made aware of all the evidence in the case that the State intends to use against you. You will have access to your police report as well as view the video in Rebecca’s office. You can even have a copy to watch at home as many times as you’d like. Rebecca will advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. She will also explain the risks and benefits. Ultimately, YOU are the person to decide if your case will go to trial.

Having an attorney who regularly takes cases to trial is important, as the prosecutors know that they will have a fight on their hands and your attorney will not back down. Rebecca has such a reputation for taking cases to trial.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE REBECCA?

Prior clients of Rebecca’s can attest to her availability and diligent representation.

Rebecca operates a boutique law firm tailored to give each client optimal time and attention. She does not take every case but rather chooses the clients that are the best fit for her talent and experience. She will charge you a reasonable fee and responds quickly to any and all inquiries. She treats you as a partner in your defense, listening closely and treating you the way you deserve.

Whether or not trial is necessary, her clients are impressed and grateful for the vigilance and skill she exercises. One of Rebecca’s best attributes is her ability to put her clients at ease. She gives clients a clear picture of what to expect. She is compassionate and caring about her clients, yet tough in court and skilled in her practice. When possible, she minimizes your need to attend court so you don’t have to miss work.

Talk with the best St.Petersburg DUI lawyer today, and get a free case evaluation. Schedule an appointment and speak to Rebecca in person. This is the best way to get a feel for an attorney and make an informed decision. Hamilton Law also provides representation for Clearwater, FL DUI’s and Pinellas DUI’s from their local offices. Contact their Clearwater DUI attorney’s today for more info.


Testimonials

If you are reading this, you must be in need of a lawyer and in my opinion, you just found the best one in Tampa Bay.

I have used lawyers in the past for business and for a few legal matters. While I am not a person who is prone to be in trouble, I have however been charged with a few DUI’s. The last DUI is the reason I employed Hamilton Law Services. I was very glad I did and here’s why….

September 2010, I was charged with DUI in Tampa. I had been planning to go back to school for nursing and this could be the end of those plans. A few days after being charged, I met with Rebecca Hamilton and instantly felt a sense of relief. She listened to my situation without judgment and offered a glimmer of hope.

This was reassuring especially since the last lawyer I employed, 17 years prior for another DUI, seemed to sit back and allow the system to run me over. For this reason, I did not trust lawyers nor did I trust in the “system”, however, Rebecca was positive and reassuring. When meeting with Rebecca I felt comfortable and was able to relax while exchanging information with her. It was almost like sitting down with an old friend yet her continued education, training and experience definitely shined through.

In February of 2011, I went to court for the DUI. Naturally I was nervous and worried about the outcome and my future. After dealing with Rebecca, I was able to walk into court, hold my head up high and have a sense of confidence that every possible thing had been done for my benefit. Through Rebecca’s attention to detail, hard work and a little miracle my third DUI was reduced to a reckless driving! Now I can go on with my future plans of becoming a RN. I owe my freedom and future to this Attorney and if you are smart….you would allow her to work her magic for you as well.
~ Larry H., DUI Client

In May 2014, I was facing my 4th DUI (a Felony) and I felt as if my life was over. I had called several attorneys that made me feel like they didn’t really empathize with my situation and wanted to charge me a lot of money. I began to go into deep depression and thought all hope was gone. Then I found Becky Hamilton.

After talking with her on the phone for about 20 minutes I felt at ease and a ton of weight had been lifted off of me. She talked me through different ways we could approach my situation. Becky was able to get my charge reduced to reckless operation (a misdemeanor) with no jail time and minimal probation. All of this for 4 times less than other attorneys. I don’t know how I could ever thank her for all she has done for me and my family.

If you ever need an attorney that will treat you with respect and dignity, and handle your case quickly and confidently, call on Rebecca Hamilton.
~ A.K., DUI Client

When I received a dui last year, I was devastated as I had never been arrested for anything – ever! Rebecca took on the role of being not only my legal counselor, but a quasi-mental health counselor as well.

She did a great job for me during a low spot in my life and I now consider her a friend. She is passionate about helping others and she has been a blessing in my life.
~ DUI Client


Case Summary & Outcomes

DUI

Facts: Client is in parked in his car and sleeping. The keys are in the ignition and the air conditioning is on. Someone calls the police to report someone passed out in their car. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office responds, knocks on his window, say they smell alcohol and order the man out of his car. A DUI investigation takes place, client refuses the breathalyzer and is charged with DUI.

Outcome: Client hired Hamilton Law who took the officers sworn testimony at the DMV hearing. Rebecca Hamilton has the hearing transcribed and files a Motion to Suppress for lack of reasonable suspicion to conduct a DUI investigation. Rebecca argues the motion at a full hearing. Judge grants the motion to suppress and signs an Order dismissing the DUI. Client’s arrest record is expunged.

Facts: Client was pulled over at 2:30 a.m. by the Tampa Police Department for decelerating and accelerating rapidly when approaching stoplights and for his tires straddling the lane markers a few times. He was investigated for DUI after the Officer smelled alcohol, administered field sobriety tests and was arrested. He blew a .153 and .156. This was his third DUI charge.

Outcome: Client immediately hired Rebecca Hamilton who took sworn testimony at a DMV hearing of the Officer who stopped client. She transcribed the hearing testimony and used it to challenge the probable cause of a traffic infraction alleged by the Officer. Prior to the hearing on the Motion to Suppress all evidence, the State Attorney agreed to reduce the DUI to a Reckless Driving. Client successfully avoids a DUI conviction.

Facts: Client was pulled over at 9:00 p.m. by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for driving with an invalid/non-registered tag. His tag was in fact registered and valid. He was investigated for DUI and submitted to the breathalyzer test. He blew a .101 and .102. This was his third DUI charge.

Outcome: Client immediately hired Hamilton Law and Rebecca Hamilton took sworn testimony of the Officer who stopped him at a DMV. Based on that testimony, Hamilton Law presented the transcript and a motion to suppress to the State Attorney’s Office in Plant City, Florida, citing that because the stop was made based on erroneous information given to the HCSO, the evidence was unlawfully gained and should be suppressed. The State reduced the charge to reckless driving.

Facts: Young female college student is leaving Channelside shortly before closing time of 2 a.m. As she is leaving the parking garage, she is trying to figure out how to leave when she is approached by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He smells alcohol and conducts a DUI investigation. She was arrested and blew a .11 and .12.

Outcome: Hamilton Law was hired and conducted a deposition of the stop officer at the DMV hearing. Further investigation revealed that many DUI arrests took place this particular weekend at the Channelside Parking Garage. Rebecca Hamilton pulled these DUI Police Reports as well. A Motion to Suppress was presented to the State Attorney’s Office, showing that a de facto checkpoint had been established, in effect, when the Officers were stationed around the pay areas waiting for people to ask questions on how to exit the garage. Because the Florida Supreme Court has established guidelines that must take place for checkpoints, and the Sheriff’s Office did not follow these procedures, Rebecca Hamilton convinced the State Attorney to reduce this client’s DUI to a RECKLESS DRIVING.

Facts: A woman is stopped for weaving within her lane of travel. DUI investigation ensues and she is arrested. She submits to BAC test which results in .181/.190. She is arrested on Felony DUI because of 2 prior convictions.

Outcome: Hamilton Law is hired to fight this DUI. First, a successful appeal is taken from the DMV’s upholding of her license suspension for blowing over the legal limit of .08, thus resulting in her full driving privileges being restored. In criminal court, Rebecca Hamilton files a Notice of Expiration of Speedy Trial and Motion for Discharge, resulting in her DUI being NOL PROSSED (or dropped) voluntarily by the State Attorney’s Office.

Facts: A man gets lost going back to Pinellas late at night from Tampa, drives into McDill Air Force Base, drives around the gate and jumps the curb. He was stopped by McDill Air Force Base police and a Tampa Police officer responded to conduct a DUI investigation. Client is arrested and blows a .163 and .161 Brac on the Breathalyzer.

Outcome: Hamilton Law is hired to handle this DUI. The Stop Officer fails to show up to the DMV despite receiving a Subpoena for this hearing by Hamilton Law, resulting in client’s driver license suspension being overturned. Full driving privileges are reinstated pending the criminal charge. Rebecca Hamilton files a Motion to Suppress for lack of probable cause to pull client over. Before the Motion, the State agrees to reduce the case to a RECKLESS DRIVING, with no driver’s license revocation. Adjudication is withheld, enabling the client to petition to have the DUI arrest and Reckless Driving resolution sealed from his record.

DUI & CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPON

Facts: Female client was pulled over at midnight by the Largo Police Department for a Tag Light out and for swerving out of her lane, crossing over the lane divider. She had a weapon in her truck. The stop officer speaks to female for 20 minutes before beginning any Field Sobriety Exercises. Female has a mild odor of alcohol and admits taking 2 Valium earlier in the night. She allegedly Refuses the Breathalyzer when she goes into a seizure from blowing too hard and because her anxious state, never having been arrested before. Despite being a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), the arresting officer does not do an evaluation to determine if he has evidence that she is currently under the influence of a prescription drug or alcohol.

Outcome: Hamilton Law took the sworn testimony of the stop officer at the DMV hearing. Later that testimony was transcribed and presented to the State Attorney’s Office with a Motion To Suppress (throw out) all evidence in the case as the fruit of an unlawful search. Hamilton Law argued that the 20 minute detention by law enforcement was illegal because it was longer than necessary to effectuate a DUI investigation. In addition, it was argued that the tag light was working properly and that driving over one lane divider one time did not rise to probable cause necessary to justify a stop in her case.

DUI & BPO VIOLATION

Facts: At approximately 2:47 a.m., this client, a successful business man, was stopped for speeding, 48 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Florida Highway Patrol evaluated him for DUI and let go, giving him only a speeding citation. He was subsequently stopped a short time later again by Bellair Police Department for failing to stop at a stop sign. He was again evaluated for DUI and arrested this time. He refused the breathalyzer test. This client had a different DUI charge pending when this happened.

Outcome: This client hired Hamilton Law to represent him on 2 misdemeanors (one DUI and one for driving on a restricted license), a speeding ticket and a stop sign violation. Hamilton Law provided documentation proving that the man was driving for business purposes only. In addition, upon speaking with the prosecutor, the State Attorney soon dismissed ALL CHARGES, including the traffic tickets against the client.

FELONY DUI

Facts: Man in a grocery store parking lot late at night bumps the back of another car leaving while leaving. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office responds as sees a spilled wine cooler in the vehicle. A DUI investigation is done based on odor of alcohol. Man is arrested for his Fourth DUI and charged with a felony. He blows 000/000 and submits to a urinalysis, which finds multiple controlled substances in his system.

Outcome: Hamilton Law is hired to fight this DUI. After rejecting an offer of 9 months in County Jail for a plea to a DUI, a trial is set on this felony DUI. Before the trial, a motion to suppress the urinalysis results is filed and argued by Rebecca Hamilton, showing there was no probable cause that the client was under the influence of a controlled substance which would have enabled the Sheriff to seek a urinalysis of the client. Although the motion was denied, it became obvious that the arresting officer had no idea what the symptoms were of the controlled substances detected in man’s urine. Before trial, State Attorney’s office calls Hamilton Law with an offer: Reduce case to RECKLESS DRIVING, no driver license revocation. Client happily accepts.

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