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The Alexander Building , 535 Central Ave, Suite 314, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
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St. Petersburg DUI Defense Lawyer Asserts Clients’ Rights

Pinellas County criminal defense law firm assists motorists accused of drunk driving

The consequences of a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can include incarceration, a fine and license suspension. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, it is vital that you contact an attorney for assistance as soon as possible. You should never admit guilt or plead to any charges before you have an opportunity to discuss your situation with qualified legal counsel. At the law office of Joseph Montrone, Jr., P.A. in St. Petersburg, I concentrate on helping those charged with DUI and other crimes. My firm has defended many clients accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and I understand the steps required to push back against overzealous police and prosecutors.

Understanding Florida’s DUI laws

My firm defends clients in cases where they are accused of the following:

  • Felony DUI — Prosecutors can charge a motorist with felony DUI if one of several aggravating factors exist. Causing a serious injury while intoxicated or incurring a third drunk-driving conviction within 10 years triggers a third-degree felony count. Vehicular homicide resulting from a DUI accident is a second-degree felony.
  • Misdemeanor DUI — Standard drunk-driving cases are charged as misdemeanors. Though the punishment in these cases are not as serious as in felony matters, a first conviction carries a fine, license suspension and possible incarceration for up to six months, or nine months if your BAC was .15 percent or higher.
  • Test refusal — Under the implied consent standard, anyone who drives on a Florida road must provide a breath, blood or urine sample if requested by police. Failure to do so can result in a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first test refusal. This is an administrative penalty, not a criminal matter, so there is no trial, and the suspension can remain in place even if you were not intoxicated.

Florida law considers most adult drivers to be legally intoxicated if their blood-alcohol concentration is .08 percent or higher. However, commercial vehicle drivers can be charged with DUI if their BAC is at or above .04 percent. Motorists under the age of 21 are subject to a zero tolerance standard and can be arrested even if their test result shows a .02 BAC.

Possible Florida DUI defenses

The criminal justice process is long and complicated. No matter what your breathalyzer result says, you have the right to contest the allegations against you with the assistance of a qualified attorney. In some instances, police officers lack the reasonable suspicion necessary to stop a vehicle or the probable cause required to make an arrest. Evidence that is collected as a result of improper law enforcement tactics should be excluded at trial, likely destroying the prosecutor’s case. Problems in the generation and handling of test results could also lead to the dismissal or acquittal of a DUI charge. An experienced lawyer can advise you of the defenses available in your case, but they might not be effective if you’ve made statements at the scene or afterward that can be used against you later. Regardless of the circumstances, the best thing you can do is avoid answering questions until you have an attorney.

Florida DUI penalties

When you are arrested for DUI, serious legal repercussions are possible, particularly if you have a previous conviction. Penalties can include the following:

  • First offense — You could spend up to six months in jail if guilty of DUI, even if you do not have a prior record. This sentence might be extended to nine months if there was a minor in the vehicle or your blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent or higher. However, in many cases, a first DUI conviction is punished by a fine, mandatory classes and a 180-day license suspension. Other potential penalties include probation and community service.
  • Second offense — For a second DUI offense, the jail term can run from 10 days to nine months, with a 12-month maximum if one of the aggravating factors exists. The fine imposed is between $1,000 and $2,000, and 50 hours of community service might be required. When the two DUI convictions occur within five years of each other, the license suspension is for five years.
  • Third offense — A third DUI conviction within 10 years is a third-degree felony that carries a top penalty of a $5,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.

In every case, my firm battles to secure a result that minimizes the disruption on a client’s life.

Contact a Florida DUI defense lawyer to get a free consultation

Joseph Montrone, Jr., P.A. in St. Petersburg represents Florida motorists who have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Please call {PHONE} or contact me online  for a free consultation.