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The Legal Experience You Want On Your Side After A Drunk Driving Arrest

Were you arrested for a first-offense or a repeat DUI? Don’t lose your license and don’t assume you are out of legal options before contacting Janet E. Johnson, P.A. Attorney Johnson is one of the top DUI lawyers in Florida and has helped countless clients resolve their legal issues both in and out of the courtroom.

Frequently Asked Questions About Florida DUI

In the section below, Ms. Johnson has provided answers to some questions you may have about Florida DUI charges. After reading, you can call 904-820-3455 to ask your own questions during a free consultation.

If I have been charged with driving under the influence, do I have a defense?

Yes, you have a drunk driving defense. If you have a drink or two while having dinner and then drive home, it is not a crime. Drinking does not necessarily mean that you are drunk. Drinking and driving is a crime only when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08% on an appropriately administered, standardized machine, urine test or blood test or if your normal faculties are impaired. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to note problems with how the tests were conducted, how the equipment was calibrated and whether the officer violated protocols. You won’t know your full list of options until an attorney like Janet E. Johnson examines your case.

What happens if I refuse to take, or take and fail, a blood or breath test?

According to Florida law, your license can be administratively suspended if you refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test. A license suspension for a refusal can last 12 to 18 months. If you take a breath test and the result is 0.08% or greater, a license suspension lasts for six months. You will have 10 days after your arrest to fight these suspensions and possibly get a hardship license. You must call a lawyer within those 10 days to apply. Call Janet E. Johnson to discuss your options.

What are field sobriety exercises? Could I fail even when sober?

The police have the right to stop you if they suspect that you are driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Before they administer a chemical test, they will usually ask you to complete field sobriety exercises that examine coordination and the ability to follow directions. Common tests include:

  • Horizontal gaze test
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Walk-and-turn test
  • Finger-to-nose test
  • The ability to stand on one leg

Other factors can cause you to fail a field sobriety exercise, and it does not mean that you are guilty or unfit to drive. Fatigue, nervousness, weight, physical illness, age and/or depression may hinder your ability to do some of the tests.

Can drivers under the age of 21 be charged with DUI?

Yes, they can, and the legal BAC limit is much lower than for drivers 21 or older. No matter what age you are, you need the help of a good attorney if you are charged with drunk driving.

First-Time Offenses

First-time DUI convictions in Florida are severe and potentially life-changing. Fines between $500 and $1,000 are only the beginning. Jail time is also an option and can be as long as six months. Suspension could last 180 days, impacting your ability to drive to and from work. While ignition interlock is for more serious DUI charges, community service and probation may be possible.

Aggravated DUI

Aggravated DUI involves impaired driving with what is deemed as aggravating influences at the time of the incident. Essentially, it represents committing another criminal offense that leads to more serious charges, including felonies that result in enhanced penalties. Examples include:

  • A significantly higher blood alcohol content
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked or restricted license
  • A DUI charge that involves a minor in the car, including child endangerment
  • An accident that led to severe injury or death
  • Multiple charges within a specific amount of time
  • Refusal to submit to breath, blood or urine tests
  • An underage driver traveling under the influence

What To Know About Sealing Or Expunging A DUI

In Florida, under certain conditions, a person is eligible to seal an arrest that did not result in a conviction or expunge or erase an arrest that was dropped or resulted in a not guilty verdict.

Because Florida statutes require a conviction on any plea to a DUI, a person is never eligible to seal or expunge a plea of no contest or guilty to that charge. That’s why it’s crucial to try to get a DUI reduced to reckless driving, if possible. A judge can withhold adjudication as to reckless driving and then you may be eligible to seal the whole case. If you don’t, the DUI will be a permanent mark on your record.

Examples Of The Firm’s DUI Defense Success Stories

Below, you can read stories of just a few of the many clients Ms. Johnson has helped.

State of Florida v. N.B. – The defendant was charged with a DUI and accused of registering a breath test of 0.205 (2.5 times the legal limit). After choosing a jury and having the trial, the judge granted the defense’s motion for judgment of acquittal and threw out the case after the state rested.

State of Florida v. D.O. – The client was observed by police hitting the curb and then crossing the center line on the roadway. She ran a stoplight and made a right turn from the center lane. Police pulled her over, at which time the client was allegedly unable to roll down the automatic car window. After several attempts, she opened the truck door, at which time the officer said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from her breath. The client admits to having had two vodka and orange juice drinks. The client submitted to field sobriety exercises that the officer said she “failed,” at which time she was arrested, transported to the jail and asked to submit to a breath test. The results were 0.151 and 0.152. The client was arrested and ultimately charged with DUI and possession of drugs without a prescription, as several prescription medications were recovered from her car upon her arrest. The client retained us, and we chose not to plead guilty and to take our chances at trial. The counts were severed or separated, and the first trial was on the DUI. We were able to catch the officer in multiple contradictions between what he had previously said under oath at the DMV hearing and what he said on the stand. We were also able to impeach him with his own report as to what exercises were performed and how she did those exercises. We also elicited, through the breath test maintenance witness, that this machine was no longer in use at the time the case went to trial. The jury found the client not guilty of the DUI, and the state chose to drop the possession of drugs without a prescription charge after the judge granted a motion to suppress the police officer’s testimony due to his credibility problems in the first trial.

State of Florida v. M.B. – The client was on probation for DUI in Duval County. The client is arrested for a new DUI in St. John’s County, where he blew 0.147 and 0.139 after having been involved in a traffic crash and for possession of new legend drugs without a prescription in Duval County. A violation of probation was issued. We set up a DMV hearing where we prevailed and got the client’s license reinstated, won a motion to suppress the breath test results, were able to plead to a reduced charge of reckless driving in St. John’s County and were able to admit the violation of probation, whereby probation was reinstated and a new condition was added for the client to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation.

State of Florida v. M.S.B. – The client was arrested after being involved in a one-car traffic crash where his vehicle was overturned. A witness observed the crash, called the police and a DUI unit ultimately responded. Post Miranda warnings, the client indicated to the police that he had consumed four to five beers. The client was arrested after performing field sobriety exercises and was transported to the Duval County Detention Facility, where he blew 0.143 and 0.141. The entire investigation was on videotape. Ms. Johnson took the case to trial and argued, in her closing argument, that due to the lapse of time between when the client last drove and when the breath test was ultimately taken at the jail, over two hours later, the breath test results were not relevant. Additionally, we argued that due to the accident, it was unreasonable to expect the client to perform the exercises successfully, and instead of arresting him for DUI, they should have taken him to the hospital. The jury came back with a verdict of not guilty.

State of Florida v. T.H. – The client was pulled over for supposedly swerving four times on each side, crossing the lane markers on the road. The client was pulled over, and the officer reported that he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. A DUI officer was called, and the client was given field sobriety exercises, after which the officer arrested the client and transported him to the Duval County Detention Facility, where he blew 0.244 and 0.244. However, at trial, the breath test operator said the client only had a faint odor of alcohol on his breath and had no difficulty walking or talking. Additionally, during the trial, we presented testimony from the bartender who served the client and said he was not impaired at the bar, where he ordered four martinis, from his friend who was with him that night, who also said he was not impaired and from a scientist who said that, given how he performed on the exercises and what he drank, the breath test machine could not have been working properly. The jury found the client not guilty.

State of Florida v. S.L. – The client was pulled over for failing to maintain a single lane. The stopping officer allegedly detected a strong odor of alcohol on the client’s breath; his eyes were red and watery; his face was allegedly flushed and speech slurred; and the officer observed an open 12-ounce can of Miller beer on the floorboard. The client performed one field sobriety exercise and then allegedly refused to continue. At that time, he was arrested and transported to the Pre-Trial Detention Facility, where he blew 0.152 and 0.152 in the breath test machine. At trial, we argued that due to the delay of two hours between the time of driving and the breath test, the results were not relevant and should not be considered by the jury. The jury found the client not guilty.

Contact The Firm To Discuss Your Legal Options In A Free Consultation

Based in Jacksonville, 904-820-3455, serves clients throughout the state of Florida. If you’re facing DUI charges and are worried about your future, contact the firm today for a free initial consultation. Just call 904-820-3455 or submit an online contact form.