New Tampa has gained a reputation as being one of the safest communities in the Tampa Bay area. One of the factors leading to this distinction is the constant presence of law enforcement. Part of this regular patrolling includes DUI enforcement. For residents of Tampa Palms, it is not uncommon to drive home on Bruce B Downs and be stopped at a DUI checkpoint or see roving DUI patrols centered on popular, local watering holes.
If you are arrested for DUI, it is important to hire an attorney immediately. DUI Defense Attorney Brian Hoag lives and works in Tampa and is available to meet with you often times within 24 hours of your arrest. An arrest for DUI creates two distinct legal avenues for the state to penalize you: criminal and administrative.
Administrative DUI Penalties in Florida
Hiring a New Tampa attorney that is able to handle the criminal and administrative charges associated with a DUI is imperative. Whether you submitted to a breath test or refused, there may also be administrative penalties levied against your driver’s license by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
The DHSMV is the governing administrative body of driver’s licenses. They have the authority to suspend your driver’s license, even if your criminal DUI charge is dismissed. If you have refused to submit to a breath test, the DHSMV will suspend your license for 1 year if it is your first refusal, and for 18 months for a subsequent refusal. If you submitted to a breath test, and blew over a .08, then the DHSMV will suspend your license for 6 months on the first occasion.
Even if your DUI charge is dropped or reduced by the prosecutor, these suspensions will remain on your driving record. Because the suspension is only administrative in nature and not criminal when the case is dropped, the criminal charge has no effect on the administrative suspensions. This means that filing a petition to seal or expunge a criminal record will have no effect on the administrative suspension, thereby leaving them discoverable pursuant to background checks.
Similarly, if the administrative suspension remains on your driving record, it will still affect your auto insurance rates and coverage.
And now for the most important point, if you do not request a DHSMV administrative review hearing within 10 days of your arrest, you will be precluded from seeking review. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney immediately after your arrest.
Criminal DUI Penalties in Florida
The criminal penalties for DUIs vary greatly depending on whether there are any factors that enhance the minimums required by law. Ultimately, it is a criminal charge and you could face jail time if convicted. Furthermore, unlike most misdemeanors and many felonies, a judge cannot withhold a formal adjudication of guilt in a DUI case, nor can you seek to have it sealed or expunged.
There are also future consequences. After the first DUI conviction, the penalties increase for each subsequent DUI, no matter how much time passes between them. For these reasons, it is vital to secure an attorney experienced at handling DUIs to help mitigate the affect your priors will have on a pending DUI charge.
The Breath Test
Some attorneys advise individuals not to blow. This can be sound legal advice, or unsound. For instance, if you have had way too much to drink, this would likely be good advice. On the other hand, if you have previously refused, then this rule of thumb so to speak would be advising you to commit a crime. Attorney Brian Hoag can defend your case whether you submitted to a breath alcohol test or not.