Drunk Driving Attorney Representing Hillsborough County Residents
A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction may have serious ramifications, both in the short term and in the long term. In addition to incarceration, hefty fines, community service requirements, and the loss of driving privileges, a DUI conviction can adversely affect the defendant’s insurance rates, educational opportunities, employment prospects, and social reputation for years to come. This makes it critical to enlist a criminal defense attorney who can vigorously protect your rights. If you or a loved one is facing an accusation of driving under the influence, Hillsborough County DUI lawyer Maj Vasigh is here to defend you to the full extent of the law.
Fighting DUI Charges in Florida
Before a person can be convicted of DUI, the State must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In doing this, the prosecution has the burden of proving each and every element of a DUI charge. This includes proof that the defendant was driving (or in actual physical control) of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired. While this seems fairly straightforward, many nuances may arise in any given case.
Since Florida law defines “driving” as being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a defendant may be convicted of DUI even if his or her car was parked at the time of the arrest. As long as the defendant was in position to operate the vehicle and had the capability to operate it, he or she may be convicted of drunk driving. Also, the term “vehicle” is defined broadly as any device used to transport people or property on a highway, including bicycles, riding lawnmowers, mopeds, and scooters. Furthermore, the “driving” of a “vehicle” does not need to occur on a street, highway, or other type of public property. The operation of a vehicle in a parking lot or on private property may be illegal if the driver is under the influence.
A defendant may dispute any or all of the elements of a DUI charge. For instance, it may be possible to defeat a DUI charge if the defendant can show that he or she chose to “sleep it off” in a parking lot, but only if the car key was out of reach, and the car never moved from the location where it was parked prior to the defendant’s intoxication. Another possible defense in a DUI case involves a challenge to the procedure or equipment used to test the defendant’s blood, breath, or urine. By Florida law, a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above is illegal, but a breath test must be properly administered and must take place on a properly calibrated machine.
The possible penalties for DUI depend upon several factors, including the defendant’s BAC, whether he or she consented to a breath, blood, or urine test, whether there were minors in the defendant’s vehicle, and whether the defendant has a previous DUI conviction. For example, a first conviction may result in imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of $500 or more, 50 hours of community service, a driver’s license revocation of 180 days, and probation for up to a year. A second conviction may trigger a sentence of up to a year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. A person who has four or more DUI convictions may be labeled as a habitual offender and serve up to five years in prison.
Obtaining a Hardship License
For many drivers, a license is essential for getting to work or handling other necessary tasks. Florida residents may be eligible for a hardship license after a first DUI. When you receive a citation from the officer, you will have a temporary driver’s license for the next 10 days: the yellow citation given to you once you are released from the jail is your temporary hardship license. You must carry it with you at all times when driving anywhere, inside or outside Hillsborough County.
You then have two options: (1) You can choose to fight the automatic suspension by requesting a formal review hearing or (2) You can choose to waive your right to a formal review hearing and in most cases, you can get an immediate reinstatement of a Business Purposes Hardship License. There are pros and cons to both choices and only your attorney can advise you which is best for your case.
How do I Fight the Automatic Suspension via a Formal Review Hearing in Hillsborough County?
Your attorney then will seek a formal review hearing at the DMV, while also pursuing a temporary driving permit. This allows you to drive for business purposes only, such as going to your job or medical appointments, school, grocery, or childcare.
If you prevail at the DMV hearing, your license will be reinstated. Otherwise, you will receive a suspension of at least six months if you registered a BAC of .08 or above on a breath test, or a suspension of at least one year if you refused the breath test for the first time. (A suspension of at least 18 months will be applied to drivers who have refused the breath test before.) However, even if you lose at the DMV hearing, you may be able to receive a hardship license if this is your first DUI and you have not refused a breath test before.
There are different timelines for people who failed the breath test by registering a BAC of .08 or above and for people who refused the test. If you failed the test, you may not drive for 30 days after your temporary driving permit expires. If you refused the test, you may not drive for 90 days. Once the 30-day period or the 90-day period expires, however, you can seek a hardship license if you have enrolled in DUI school. You will need to provide the DMV with a written copy of your driving record and pay a fee. If you follow the necessary steps with the guidance of an attorney, you will be able to obtain a hardship license that allows you to continue driving to work so that your license suspension does not interfere with your job.
How Do I Get an Immediate Hardship License?
By waiving your right to a formal administrative review in Hillsborough County, you can get an immediate Business Purposes Only (BPO) hardship license as long as you get everything done within the 10 days from your arrest. The BPO license is sometimes the best alternative for many clients as it will allow you drive uninterrupted until your criminal case is complete.
The Hillsborough County Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office is Located at:
2814 E Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, FL 33610
To get an immediate hardship you must:
- Be eligible for a hardship (No prior blow over .08 or refusal)
- Sign up for DUI school and bring proof of enrollment to the hearing (Most Hillsborough residents use approved Level I course www.DUIcounterattack.org)
- Classes are in Tampa and Brandon and are available in English or Spanish
- Class will cost $263
- Sign affidavit and waiver of formal review in presence of hearing officer
- Bring a $25 fee for the waiver
Protect Your Rights by Consulting a DUI Lawyer in Hillsborough County
A DUI conviction may pose many challenges and obstacles, not only in terms of the fines and increased insurance premiums but also with regard to the long-term consequences of a criminal record. Knowledgeable legal representation may be of great assistance in determining the options that may be available to you if you have been charged with drunk driving. To talk to an experienced Hillsborough County DUI attorney about your case, call our firm at (813) 800-1111 or contact us online. You can reach us for emergencies, such as bond motions, 24/7. We serve people throughout Tampa, South Tampa, New Tampa, Carrollwood, Brandon, Riverview, and Valrico. Attorney Maj Vasigh also is available to assist people who need a traffic ticket attorney or representation in fighting a wide range of felonies and misdemeanors.