DUI / Drunk Driving

South Florida Drunk Driving Attorneys

With over 61,000 arrests for DUI across Florida in 2013, there is no question this offense is a common one. For those facing a charge of driving drunk, there are serious consequences that can make the criminal process ahead of you overwhelming. You could face time in jail and/or on probation, steep fines, lose your license and more.

Delray Beach DUI Lawyer
With your future on the line, you can turn to an experienced attorney for skilled legal representation. At McLaughlin Morris, P.A., we have prosecutorial experience and understand how to build the strongest possible defense. A DUI lawyer from McLaughlin Morris, P.A. in Delray Beach will be dedicated to your best interests and vigorously fighting the charges against you.

Call McLaughlin Morris, P.A. today at (561) 404-0529, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, to schedule your free consultation regarding a DUI offense in Palm Beach County, Broward County or Miami-Dade County. We can ease the stress of a DUI charge by representing you with determination and open communication through every step of the criminal justice process. We have significant experience with DUI offenses, and we’re ready to take on your situation, no matter how challenging.

DUI Issues for Miami
Definition of Drunk Driving in Florida
Actual Physical Control in Florida and the Impact on a DUI Offense
Implied Consent to BAC Tests
Administrative Proceedings for DUI in Florida
Penalties for DUI Offenses
DUI Resources for South Florida
Seeking a Lawyer for a DUI Offense in Florida

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Definition of Drunk Driving in Florida
Driving under the influence of alcohol is defined in Florida Statute § 316.193 as a person operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while impaired by the consumption of alcohol or drugs. A person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) can be measured through breath, urine, or blood analysis, and if this amount is found to be at .08 or above, the person may be arrested for DUI. There are also limits on the levels of certain drugs that can be in the bloodstream while driving, as outlined in the statute.

A person does not necessarily have to be chemically proven to be intoxicated to be charged with DUI in Delray Beach, however. If normal functions, such as speaking or walking, are seen to be impaired, then the person may still be charged with driving under the influence.

If your BAC is found to be over the legal limit, you will most likely be automatically arrested. Arrests for visible intoxication generally result from the use of drugs, such as oxycodone or marijuana, as there is no calculable level of illegal intoxication for these drugs. Even a drug consumed in a prescribed manner may still lead to an arrest for DUI and pose a serious threat to your future in Palm Beach.

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Actual Physical Control in Florida and the Impact on a DUI Offense
A lesser known fact about a DUI charge is that you don’t actually have to be driving a vehicle in order to be arrested. In Florida, a person can be charged with DUI if they are in actual physical control of a vehicle. This control is determined by several factors, including:

Location of the vehicle
Location of defendant in or around the car
Whether location enables easy operation of the motor vehicle
If the keys were in the ignition
Whether the defendant had actual or constructive possession of the keys
If the engine was on or if it had recently been operated (i.e., the hood was warm)
Whether the car was able to be driven
This means you can be arrested for DUI in Palm Beach County even if you were just sleeping in your parked car while intoxicated. A charge for DUI involving actual physical control can be complicated, so an attorney in Palm Beach County can be especially important when facing this type of offense.

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Implied Consent to BAC Tests in Florida
When a person receives a driver’s license in Florida, that person agrees to implied consent while driving. This is a legal concept meaning that drivers have implied their consent to a BAC test just by driving on the roads in Florida. However, the Fourth Amendment means you cannot be forced to submit to these tests without a warrant, so you can still refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test when requested.

However, refusing a test carries consequences because of Florida’s “implied consent” law. For a first time refusing BAC test in Broward County, you face an administrative license suspension for one year, and an 18-month suspension for a second offense. On a positive side, though, refusing a BAC test can deny the prosecution physical evidence to use against you when charging you with a DUI offense.

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Administrative Proceedings for DUI in Florida
When you are arrested for DUI anywhere in Florida, including Palm Beach County, your license will automatically be suspended by the State Department of Motor Vehicles. This suspension is handled separately from your case in the criminal justice system. Within 10 days after your arrest, however, you can request either a formal or informal hearing to review your suspension.

During an informal review hearing, an officer reviews the evidence you and your arresting officer have submitted and determines whether procedures were followed correctly and if your license suspension is justified. A formal DMV hearing, however, involves a Palm Beach County lawyer representing you while calling witnesses and presenting evidence. The formal hearing can be a great opportunity to develop your defensive strategy and you may be able to overturn the suspension of your driving privileges.

Remember: You only have 10 days from the date of the arrest to request the hearing, so it’s important to act quickly to retain your driving privileges.

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Penalties for DUI Offenses Throughout Florida
There are many different situations involving DUI charges that can affect the potential consequences for the accused individual. These include prior DUI offenses, if harm was inflicted to a person or property during the offense, whether the driver is underage, and whether the driver holds a professional license. Because so many factors can affect the situation, it is important to enlist the help of an attorney who is familiar with the range of DUI scenarios in Florida.

These various situations can lead to a wide range of penalties, including:

Jail time – for a first-time, simple DUI charge, you can face up to 6 months in prison
Fines that can range into the thousands of dollars
Suspension of your driving privileges for a minimum of 6 months
Required installation of an ignition interlock device
Community service
Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program
Your vehicle may be impounded

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DUI Resources for South Florida
Florida Laws for License Suspension: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles maintains this site detailing laws about when drivers licenses are suspended after an accusation of drunk driving.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office: The Sheriff’s Office patrols for drunk driving suspects and set up checkpoints for intoxicated drivers.

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Seeking a Lawyer for a DUI Offense in Florida
The experienced team of trial attorneys at McLaughlin Morris, P.A. has taken on a range of DUI scenarios across Florida, including DUI manslaughter, 3rd DUI offenses, and underage drivers. You can count on our team to tackle tirelessly the difficult situation you face, while maintaining open communication with you to ease your stress.

Call us today at (561) 404-0529, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, to schedule your free consultation with McLaughlin Morris, P.A. We know what you’re facing when charged with a DUI in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas. Let us navigate you through each stage of the confusing process ahead of you and fight for a positive resolution for you.