Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney
Evidence in a DUI charge can be challenged — and we have done this successfully for clients throughout South Florida
One of the most damaging assumptions that a driver charged with drunk driving can make is that nothing can be done — because Breathalyzer tests are infallible, field sobriety tests are tried and true, and the police officer is always right. Nothing could be further from the truth. For nearly 30 years, the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Kevin J. Kulik, P.A. has protected the rights of people in and around Broward County against charges of DUI. Kevin Kulik is a trial-tested criminal defense veteran who understands the documented unreliability of breath-testing devices and challenges evidence, test interpretations and law enforcement procedures.
Simple denial is not a legal strategy. Working with a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney who knows where to find holes in the prosecution’s case is in your best interest — and can help minimize penalties or even cause charges to be dropped.
Defenses to DUI Charges in Florida
Simply saying, “I didn’t do it!” will not get you far in the eyes of the law. Rather, it is critical that you develop a strong case that includes a solid defense to the DUI charges. Some defenses to DUI charges that may be applicable in your DUI case include:
- Improper stop. A police officer can only stop your vehicle if they have probable cause to do so – stopping your car just because the officer feels like it or thinks you look suspicious – without any real reason to justify that suspicion – is prohibited. If your vehicle was stopped without probable cause, charges against you may be dropped.
- Improper administration of field sobriety tests. When a police officer pulls a person over and suspects that they are impaired from drugs or alcohol, they will often issue a field sobriety test. However, the validity of field sobriety tests is highly doubted, and officers often make mistakes in administering these tests.
- Inaccurate Breathalyzer results. Another defense to DUI charges is that the Breathalyzer test was either improperly administered, was inaccurate in its results, or both. It is not uncommon for Breathalyzer testing machines to be improperly calibrated or/and maintained, resulting in errors.
- Involuntary or unintentional intoxication. In some cases, intoxication or impairment may be involuntary. For example, a person’s drink may have been spiked with alcohol without their consent, a person may have been slipped a drug unknowingly, or the effects of a prescription medication may be unknown.
- Violation of the defendant’s civil rights. While this is less common, it is not unheard of for the civil rights of a person who is charged with a DUI to be infringed upon during the criminal process. Police misconduct or improper actions that violate constitutional rights may help to reduce or throw out DUI charges.
Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys will work hard to build your defense in order to mitigate the possible repercussions you may face if convicted of a DUI.
What can Florida’s DUI penalties mean for you?
Here is another assumption you should not make: that a first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor charge and gets you little more than a slap on the wrist and a fine from the traffic court. Florida takes drunk driving— and for that matter, boating under the influence (BUI) — seriously, and DUI penalties reflect that. If you have no prior drunk driving convictions, were just on the edge of the .08 limit and did not cause an accident, we may be able to get you a “wet reckless” plea. However, even a first offense can cost you as much as $1,000 in fines and necessitate DUI school or substance abuse counseling and 50 hours of community service. On top of that, your vehicle may be impounded for ten days, your license may be suspended for up to one year, and you could even serve up to six months in jail. Further, you may be dismissed from your job, have difficulty finding employment in the future, and may even have your professional license revoked.
The penalties for repeat DUIs or blood alcohol level (BAL) much higher than the legally intoxicated level of .08 are increasingly severe. All include mandatory DUI school or substance abuse counseling, vehicle impoundment and community service:
- First offense with a minor in the vehicle or a recorded BAL of .15 or above: Fines of up to $2,000, license suspension of 180 days to one year, up to nine months in jail and installation of ignition interlock device for six months with license hardship reinstatement
- Second offense more than five years after a first offense: Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year, up to nine months in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 and license suspension of 180 days to one year
- Second offense five years or less after a first offense: Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year, fines up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail with ten days mandatory, five-year mandatory suspension of driving privileges plus a one-year wait for hardship permit eligibility. If the second offense occurred with a minor in the vehicle or your BAC was .15 or above: Fines up to $4,000, jail up to one year and ignition interlock device mandatory for two years
- Third offense more than 10 years after a prior DUI conviction: Fines up to $5,000, up to one year in jail, ignition interlock device mandatory for two years and license suspension. For a third offense within a ten-year period of the last conviction: Jail time up to one year and license suspension mandatory for ten years
What is zero tolerance?
If you are charged with a DUI in Florida and are also less than 21 years old, you are essentially breaking two laws: You are driving drunk and you are drinking under the legal age. If you are underage and have a BAL of as little as .02 percent, you are immediately charged with DUI and have your license automatically suspended for six months.
Refusing Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests
As DUI (or DWI) attorneys, we are often asked if the police can “make” you take a breath analyzer (Breathalyzer or Intoxilyzer) test. Under Florida law, you can refuse to submit to a breath test, but not without consequences, as your license is automatically suspended by the traffic court. However, by refusing to “blow,” you may deny the prosecution a piece of damning evidence and possibly avoid criminal penalties. As such, in cases where you are clearly intoxicated, it may be within your best interest to refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer or Intoxilyzer test.
You also have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test. In fact, it may be in your best interest to do so. Unlike refusing a breath test, you face no penalties, either civil or criminal, for refusing to take any of the three typical field sobriety tests. These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test and the walk-and-turn test. As mentioned above, the validity of field sobriety tests is not sound, and administration of these tests is not always correct. If you can help it, refusing to take a field sobriety test may help your case, even if you are not above the legal limit of .08 percent BAC.
Even if you are not legally drunk, if you are nervous or elderly or have balance or vision problems, you could fail any or all these tests.
We know how to fight Fort Lauderdale DUI charges
To learn more about how we can help you, please contact Kevin J. Kulik, P.A. online or call us at 954-761-9411 to schedule a free consultation with Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik. It is important that you call us as soon as possible after being charged with a DUI, even before talking to the police. If you cannot travel to our location, we will happily travel to yours. An initial consultation with our team is 100 percent free.
We have nearly three decades of experience defending the rights of those charged with a DUI. Guilty or not, you have the right to legal representation, and the right to defend yourself against charges. Take action to protect those rights by contacting us as soon as possible.