The following DUI Defense questions are some of those commonly by potential clients who have called my office for potential representation. These are some of the questions asked in a typical DUI case in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, which includes Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties.
Question: Am I facing jail time on my Sarasota or Bradenton DUI case?
Answer: It depends upon the facts of each case. A DUI in the state of Florida is a criminal charge, which means that in any DUI case, a jail sentence is at least a possibility. Although the vast majority of first time misdemeanor DUI offenders do not receive jail sentences, there are some exceptions, especially where the facts are aggravated. A person who has been convicted of at least one prior DUI faces a definite possibility of a jail sentence in Sarasota or Manatee County, and in fact, some cases carry mandatory jail sentences. A person with two or more previous DUI convictions is extremely likely to receive a jail offer in Sarasota or Manatee County. A person with three or more convictions is facing a potential felony charge, and possibly up to 5 years in state prison.
Question: I was convicted of a DUI in another state. Can it be used against me in Florida?
Answer: Yes. Florida law allows prosecutors to use out of state convictions to enhance the penalties on a Florida DUI. Even in those states where DUI convictions occurred many years ago, or are supposed to be “expunged” from a driver’s record, Florida is not required to ignore previous convictions, regardless of what another state’s law requires.
Question: Can I get a hardship license if I am convicted of my DUI?
Answer: A person convicted of a first time DUI will receive a license suspension of at least 6 months, and possibly up to 12 months, upon entering a guilty or no contest plea to the charge in Court. After conviction, a first time DUI offender is technically eligible for a hardship license, assuming that certain steps are taken before applying. However, a person who has been previously convicted of a DUI, no matter how long ago, is not eligible for a hardship license after entering a plea to a second or third conviction. A person who has been convicted of a fourth DUI receives an automatic lifetime revocation.
Question: Do I need an attorney to represent me on my DUI?
Answer: Ultimately, that will be up for you to decide. Although most first time misdemeanor DUI offenders will not be facing any mandatory jail time, a Florida DUI conviction stays on your driving record permanently. If you choose to represent yourself, you are forfeiting any opportunity to contest the charge, as well as waiving any possible legal defenses you might have, such as challenging the reason for the traffic stop, and the admissibility of the field sobriety and breath tests. Anyone facing jail time will almost certainly need an attorney.