Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers Assisting Residents of the Jacksonville Area
The skilled attorneys at Ellis and Bryant represent people throughout Northeast Florida who have been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even first-time DUI charges can have significant consequences for a defendant on personal and professional levels, and a DUI refusal can complicate the situation. Our Jacksonville DUI attorneys understand the importance of mounting a strong defense and getting charges dropped or reduced whenever possible. We have a strong track record for successful results in these cases. Our lawyers can advise clients on their options and the likely range of outcomes, including in situations in which they may have refused a blood alcohol test.
A DUI conviction can come with serious consequences. A first-time offender can be looking at several months in jail and $1,000 in fines. This is not to mention that you will automatically lose your driver’s license for six months to a year. Although some DUI offenders can apply for limited driving permission via a “hardship” license, you will need to complete DUI School before you are eligible. The punishments and fines increase for drivers who are caught with higher levels of alcohol in their system and for people who are involved in accidents while intoxicated.
Penalties for DUI Refusal
State law makes it a crime to get behind the wheel of a car or another vehicle while intoxicated. Police officers, prosecutors, and courts often measure intoxication from alcohol by blood alcohol content (BAC). A person whose blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher is considered intoxicated in Florida. Cops typically measure BAC by using breath, urine, or blood tests. These tests often raise a number of questions about their accuracy and validity, which can affect whether they should be entered into evidence or weighed heavily in a DUI case. Police officers cannot force you to submit to a BAC test, but state law provides that anyone who turns down a test and is arrested for DUI will have his or her license suspended for a year. That increases to 18 months for anyone who has previously been convicted of a DUI.
The good news for a person who has had his or her license suspended for a refusal to take a BAC test is that you can challenge the decision in court. Police can only suspend your license if you are arrested for DUI, and that arrest is valid. In order to pull over a car, cops need to have a reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime has occurred or is happening. To arrest someone, police officers must have probable cause to believe that the person committed the crime with which he or she is being charged. That means more than just a hunch.
Instead, officers need to point to specific facts – such as that the driver was speeding, swerving, driving with their lights out, etc. – that justified stopping the car in the first place. Then, they need to show that they had probable cause to believe that the driver was drunk in order to make a DUI arrest. If they cannot do that, a court has the power to lift the driving suspension following a DUI refusal.
Talk with an Experienced DUI Attorney in Jacksonville or Surrounding Communities
At Ellis and Bryant, we have represented clients in numerous DUI and traffic violation cases. Partner Gary Bryant is a former Assistant State Attorney with an extensive criminal trial background. We understand how judges and juries look at these cases, and we understand how to gather and present evidence that compellingly presents our client’s side of the story. Our firm is committed to making sure that your voice is heard in your time of need. We represent people in the areas around Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, Middleburg, and other communities in Duval and Clay Counties. Call us at (904) 551-4120 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation to discuss your circumstances with a lawyer who has helped many other Florida drivers in your situation.