First DUI Lawyer Near Me in Jupiter Serving Palm Beach County FL
DUI charges in Palm Beach County, FL can be quite severe—even if it’s your first DUI. You may be facing jail time, license suspension, and major impacts on the way you go about daily life. If you or a loved one were arrested for DUI, one of the best things you can do is to hire a knowledgeable, attentive first DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
At Simko Law Group, we help clients understand what they’re up against and the best path forward based on their specific case details. Contact us or call (561) 951-1264 today to schedule your free consultation and get a better understanding of your first DUI charges.
Penalties for a First DUI Conviction in Palm Beach County
If you’re convicted for a first DUI in Palm Beach County, FL, you face the following potential penalties:
- License Suspension: Your license may be suspended for at least 180 days, up to one year
- Fines: These can range from $500 – $1,000 depending on the details of your case
- Probation: The judge may sentence you to a probation period of up to one year, which includes tasks like mandatory meetings with your probation officer
- Jail Time: You can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail following your first DUI conviction in Florida
- Community Service: The judge can require you to volunteer your time with non-profit organizations
- DUI School: Part of your sentence can include attending educational courses related to drunk driving
- Substance Abuse Treatment: You may also be required to undergo substance abuse treatment, such as participating in a twelve-step program
You should also know that these penalties may vary, depending on the details of your case. Things like your blood alcohol content (BAC) level and whether any people were injured as a result of your DUI can seriously impact the sentence you receive.
Lastly, in some Florida counties—such as Palm Beach and Miami—you may be eligible for what’s called a ‘pretrial diversion program.
This option was created specifically for first-time DUI offenders in Florida. If you choose to go this route, you can complete specific requirements in exchange for reducing your DUI charge to something less serious (such as Reckless Driving).
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer in Florida and What are the Consequences?
Yes, you technically can refuse a breathalyzer in Florida, but doing so constitutes a violation of Florida’s implied consent laws. By operating a vehicle in Florida, you give your ‘implied consent’ to chemical tests when asked by a law enforcement official.
So, refusing the breathalyzer in Florida results in an immediate license suspension for up to one year—so long as it’s your first refusal.
If you’ve refused a breathalyzer in the past, making this a second refusal, your license may be suspended for up to 18 months. You may also face up to one year in jail or on probation and fines up to $1,000.
Potential Defenses for a 1st DUI
Hiring an experienced first DUI lawyer like our attorney Andrew Simko is the best way to understand which potential defenses might work for you. Every single case is unique, and what might be effective for someone else may not be the best fit for you.
With that in mind, here are a few potential defenses for a first DUI in Florida.
Defenses to Negate Elements of Your DUI
Basically, prosecutors have to prove three things to validate a DUI charge. First, that you were indeed driving or in control of the vehicle. Second, that you did so while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Third, that your normal faculties at the time of the DUI were impaired as a result.
As your first DUI defense lawyer, we’ll conduct our own investigation to look for details that can negate elements of your DUI. We’ll look for hard proof that you were the driver, had physical control of the vehicle, and that the vehicle was operable, among many other things.
Then, we use this evidence (or lack thereof) to fight your DUI charge—the goal being to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Though highly unusual, sometimes affirmative defenses are effective for winning a DUI case. An ‘affirmative defense’ is when you admit to committing DUI, but claim that specific circumstances excuse the behavior.
The five affirmative defenses include:
- Necessity – You’re saying you committed the crime because you had no other option. An emergency situation, whether man-made or an act of nature, meant you absolutely had to drive impaired.
- Duress – Two elements must be present for this defense. First, someone forced you to commit DUI under threat of harming or killing you (or a loved one). Second, this person must have had the immediate ability to act on that threat. Without both of these elements, this defense can’t be used.
- Entrapment – You claim that a law enforcement official directly caused you to commit a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise. This is very hard to prove because even if it’s your first DUI, you still need more proof that you wouldn’t have done it without the direct actions of the officer.
- Mistaken fact – This means you didn’t know you were drunk, didn’t know how drunk you were, or didn’t know how a medication/drug would impair you.
- Involuntary intoxication – This defense is particularly common in cases where someone was unknowingly slipped a date rape drug. Arguing that, for example, you felt pressured by your friends to drink more doesn’t count as involuntary intoxication.
Court Process When Charged with First DUI in Florida
After you’ve been charged with first DUI in Florida, here’s the typical court process:
- First appearance: You’ll appear before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. They’ll confirm whether probable cause for the arrest was present, and decide on your bail eligibility.
- Arraignment: You and your first DUI defense lawyer appear before a judge for a formal reading of the charges. At this stage, you’ll plead no contest, not guilty, or guilty.
- Preparation and pre-trial motions: Both your lawyer and the prosecution gather evidence, testimony, and anything else relevant to your case. Both sides can also file motions to, for example, disallow certain pieces of evidence.
- Trial: If your case isn’t resolved in the previous stage, you’ll go to trial. Your lawyer and the prosecution will each present their side, supported by evidence.
- Sentencing (if found guilty): By law, the judge must consider several factors, such as the details of your case and whether you have a criminal record already.
- Appeal: Being sentenced isn’t always the last step. You may be eligible to appeal your case to a higher court for their review.
Hiring a Knowledgeable, Attentive First DUI Defense Lawyer
As a former prosecutor, first DUI lawyer Andrew Simko has a wealth of experience with both sides of the criminal justice system. This includes in-depth knowledge of how prosecutors and law enforcement officials build their cases, which can be priceless while crafting a strong defense strategy.
Have you or a loved one been arrested for a DUI in Florida? The sooner you consult with an experienced first DUI defense lawyer, the better. It’s vital that you get a clear understanding of the details of your case, are fully aware of your legal options, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings.
Call Palm Beach County DUI attorney Andrew Simko today at (561) 951-1264 for your free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About First DUI
Will my license be suspended after a DUI arrest?
There is a possibility your license will be suspended after a DUI arrest in Florida—even if it’s your first DUI. The exact length of the suspension and whether you can get a hardship license depend on the circumstances of your case.
After you’re arrested for a DUI in Florida, two specific things can cause an immediate license suspension. If you take the test and have a BAC above 0.08%, or refuse to take a chemical test (breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test), your license will be suspended right then and there.
In either of these scenarios, the suspension is completely separate from the criminal charges against you. The state of Florida categorizes this as an ‘administrative suspension’ instead. Having a BAC above .08 results in a six-month suspension, while refusing the test earns you a one-year suspension.
After your first DUI arrest, you’re allowed to use the citation issued by the police as a temporary license for no more than 10 days. You can only drive to school, work, the doctor’s office, or to pick up food.
Beyond that, if you’re working with a first DUI lawyer in Palm Beach County, they can help fight the license suspension. As your attorney, we may suggest requesting a hearing with the DMV, which grants you another 42 hours of temporary driving privileges.
But this isn’t always the best move. It’s risky.
If your suspension is then upheld by the DMV, you lose any potential path to a hardship license. But if you waive the right to a hearing, you’ll be granted the right to have a hardship license.
Talking with a knowledgeable first DUI defense lawyer in Palm Beach County can help you understand which specific penalties and options might apply to you.
Can I get a DUI even if I blow below the legal limit?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to be charged with a DUI in Florida even if you blow below the legal limit of .08. You see, your BAC is just one of several factors that law enforcement officials and prosecutors consider when deciding whether to charge you.
Florida law allows the police to arrest you for DUI so long as they have probable cause to believe you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol.
So, if an officer sees signs of impairment like erratic driving, bloodshot eyes, and/or slurred speech, they can arrest you for DUI. Other valid signs include witness statements, how you perform on field sobriety tests, and your overall behavior/appearance.
It’s also crucial to remember that the legal limit only applies to drivers aged 21 and older. If you’re under 21, you can be charged for DUI if you have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system (i.e., your BAC is .02% or higher).
Will I have to serve jail time for a first-time DUI in Palm Beach County?
You may have to serve jail time for a first-time DUI in Palm Beach County, but it’s not an automatic decision. Per Florida statutes, your sentence for a first DUI may include up to six months of jail time—and potentially longer if, for example, anyone was injured or killed during your DUI.
When you work with a first DUI lawyer familiar with Palm Beach County like Andrew Simko, they’ll walk you through alternative options to serving jail time. For example, we can explore getting you admitted into the Palm Beach County DUI Diversion Program, which allows first-time offenders to get their charges reduced and avoid jail time.
The best way to minimize your risk is by doing thorough research after searching online for ‘1st DUI lawyer near me in Palm Beach County.’
Check for things like positive reviews, testimonials, and familiarity with the Florida legal system to ensure you hire a first DUI lawyer who’s experienced enough to fight your DUI charge effectively.
Can a first DUI lawyer get my case dismissed in Palm Beach County?
Yes, a first DUI lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed in Palm Beach County.
Especially for first-time offenders, the court is sometimes a bit more willing to lower or reduce a DUI charge.
Other details matter too, such as whether any property damage or injuries occurred while you were driving.
When you work with a skilled first DUI defense lawyer like Andrew Simko, he’ll explore every possible avenue for getting your case dismissed. Contact us today for your free consultation and to learn more about the likelihood of getting your case dismissed. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start working to protect your freedom.