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How Can Defendants Challenge Evidence in Polk County DUI Cases?

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Why Is It Important to Challenge DUI Charges?

Conviction of driving under the influence can have serious consequences in Florida. Even for a first offense, you could face fines, community service, incarceration, probation, and suspension of your driving privileges. A DUI on your record can significantly affect your future prospects, including education, employment, housing, licensing opportunities, and auto insurance rates. If you have been charged with DUI in Polk County, it is crucial to have an experienced DUI lawyer to protect your rights, challenge the evidence, and fight the charges against you. In Florida, a DUI conviction stays on your record for 75 years. 

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Florida?

Criminal and civil penalties for a first offense DUI can be severe, and they become increasingly more serious with subsequent convictions. As reported by the State of Florida, for a first conviction, you will face fines of $500 to $2,000, or $2,000 to $4,000, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or higher, or if a minor was present in the vehicle. In addition, for a first conviction, you can expect to do community service for a mandatory 50 hours or pay an additional $10 fine for every hour of community service required. 

Imprisonment is a possibility at the discretion of the court, although the term may be served in a residential alcohol or drug abuse program. You could be incarcerated for up to six months for a first DUI, or up to nine months if a minor was in the vehicle, or if you had a BAC of .15% or higher. The maximum total incarceration and probation period is one year. 

Your driver’s license could be revoked for 180 days to one year. You will need to complete DUI school and treatment to have your license reinstated. You will also be required to take an examination and pay an administrative fee of $115 plus a reinstatement fee of $60. In addition, installation of an ignition interlock device is required under The 2023 Florida Statutes, § 322.2715

How Can You Defend Against DUI Charges?

As with every other criminal charge, the burden of proof is on the prosecution in a DUI case. To convict you of DUI, the prosecutor must show that: 1) you were driving (or in actual physical control of) a vehicle; 2) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; 3) to the extent of having impaired faculties. Each of these three points is an element of the crime. The state cannot prove its case if there is reasonable doubt about any element. Your attorney may raise multiple defenses against the charges. The defense may assert either that the police made a mistake in the investigation, so evidence cannot be used against you, or that the evidence is not reliable. 

What Are the Potential Challenges to DUI Evidence in Polk County?

Even if the prosecution claims to have an open and shut case, a skilled DUI attorney can thoroughly examine the evidence and challenge every flaw. Common DUI defense strategies include the following:

  • Illegal traffic stop: With the possible exception of DUI checkpoints, police must have a valid reason to pull you over. Otherwise, the traffic stop is illegal, and the evidence is inadmissible.
  • Illegal search: After a DUI traffic stop, police can only search your vehicle without a warrant if you consent, if there is probable cause to believe the evidence of a crime is in the vehicle if they reasonably believe a search is necessary to protect themselves or others (for example, they believe you have a weapon in the vehicle), or in certain “emergency” circumstances. 
  • Inaccurate field sobriety testing: Various physical conditions, such as vertigo, arthritis, and poor balance, and environmental circumstances, such as a sloped or uneven surface, can significantly affect field sobriety test results. 
  • Unreliable breath test results: Breath testing for blood alcohol levels can be unreliable when police officers are insufficiently trained, or breathalyzers are improperly calibrated. Certain medications and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux, can also skew breath test results. 
  • Failure to read Miranda rights: When making an arrest, police must read the defendant his or her Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and an attorney. Failure to do so voids any statements made by the defendant during the arrest as evidence. 
  • Police misconduct: If the arresting officer used excessive force, caused injury to the defendant, or acted in a harassing or abusive manner, DUI evidence may be excluded. The officer’s disciplinary record may be examined to challenge his or her credibility. 
  • Improper blood testing procedures: Although they are more reliable than breath tests or field sobriety tests for DUI, blood tests are not always accurate. Individuals administering the tests must be trained and certified, and strict regulations apply to blood testing procedures. When police or testing facilities fail to follow proper procedures, test results should not be used as evidence against a defendant. 

Why Choose The Law Firm of Gil Colón, Jr. for DUI Defense?

If you have been accused of DUI in Polk County, The Law Firm of Gil Colón, Jr. can provide dedicated representation and aggressive defense against the charges. Mr. Colón is a seasoned trial lawyer with more than 35 years of experience. He is bilingual, bicultural, and one of three local Hispanic attorneys. Our offices are located two blocks from the courthouse. Do not let one mistake affect the rest of your life. Call us today at (863) 534-3777 for skilled DUI defense in Polk County.

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