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Florida DUI Lawyers



Understanding DUI Charges in Florida

Facing a DUI charge in Florida is a serious matter that requires immediate attention. At Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and the severe penalties that can follow a conviction. Florida DUI laws are stringent and carry severe penalties. Understanding the nature of DUI charges in Florida is crucial for anyone facing such allegations. DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, can be charged if a person is found operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol to the extent that their normal faculties are compromised.

What is a DUI in Florida? A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Florida is defined as operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, or being impaired by drugs or alcohol to the extent that normal faculties are compromised.

After an arrest for DUI in Tampa, FL, it is essential to call us to discuss the best strategies to fight the charge. Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal defense and fighting DUI cases. When you call our office, you can speak directly with an attorney on the phone, schedule a same-day Zoom meeting, or have a face-to-face consultation at our office.

Types of DUI Charges

In Florida, DUI charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on various factors such as prior convictions, the presence of minors in the vehicle, and whether the DUI resulted in an accident causing injury or property damage. First-time offenders typically face misdemeanor charges, but repeated offenses or aggravating circumstances can elevate the charges to felonies.

  • First-Time Offense: Usually a misdemeanor, involving penalties such as fines, community service, and possible jail time.
  • Second DUI Within Five Years: Enhanced penalties including longer jail time and higher fines.
  • Third DUI Within Ten Years: Can be charged as a felony, with severe penalties including extended jail time.
  • DUI with Serious Injury: Charged as a felony, involving significant penalties and long-term consequences.
  • DUI Manslaughter: A serious felony charge with severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.

Understanding the type of DUI charge you are facing is crucial in formulating an effective defense strategy. Our experienced attorneys at Leppard Law have the skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of DUI cases in Florida.

DUI Sobriety Test

During your consultation with us, we will help you understand the best ways to protect your rights at every stage of the case. Our offices have been at the same location in downtown Tampa, FL, for more than ten years. If your DUI case involves a refusal to submit to testing or a breath test reading over .08 or .15, you need an attorney focused on fighting these charges.

DUI vs DWI in Florida can be confusing, but we can help clarify the differences and implications for your case. Our lead attorney, Leslie Sammis, has focused her career on DUI cases for the last 20 years. She is a member of the most trusted organizations for the top DUI lawyers in the United States, including the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA). She currently serves as a State Delegate for NCDD.

Leslie Sammis received advanced training on the Intoxilyzer 8000 from a former Department Inspector with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The Intoxilyzer 8000 is the only breathalyzer currently used in Florida. Over the years, Leslie Sammis has taken numerous DUI cases to trial and obtained “not guilty” verdicts in felony and misdemeanor DUI cases. She has conducted hundreds of contested formal review hearings and cross-examined officers, breath test operators, and agency inspectors.

In the courtroom, Leslie Sammis has successfully litigated numerous motions to suppress and motions to dismiss the DUI charges. If you are accused of drunk or impaired driving, let us put our experience to work for you. We can help you fight for the best result at every stage of the case.

For more information on DUI charges, you can read our Beginner’s Guide to DUI in Florida or learn about the Direct File Process for DUI Cases in Florida.

Penalties for DUI Convictions in Florida

The penalties for DUI convictions in Florida are severe and can have long-lasting consequences. These penalties can include fines, jail time, community service, probation, mandatory DUI school, and the installation of an ignition interlock device. The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as the driver’s BAC level, prior DUI convictions, and whether the DUI involved an accident or injury. Understanding these penalties is crucial for anyone facing a DUI charge.

DUI Penalties in Florida

First-Time DUI Offenses

For first-time DUI offenders, penalties may include up to six months in jail, a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000, probation, community service, and mandatory attendance at DUI school. Additionally, the driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year. These penalties are designed to deter repeat offenses and ensure that offenders understand the seriousness of their actions.

  • Jail Time: Up to six months in jail, depending on the circumstances of the case.
  • Fines: A fine ranging from $500 to $1,000, which can increase with aggravating factors.
  • Probation: Probationary period with requirements such as regular check-ins and compliance with court orders.
  • Community Service: Mandatory community service hours, often around 50 hours.
  • DUI School: Attendance at a DUI school to educate offenders about the dangers of impaired driving.
  • License Suspension: Suspension of the driver’s license for up to one year.

These penalties are just the beginning. The consequences of a DUI conviction can extend far beyond the courtroom, affecting various aspects of your life. For instance, having a DUI on your record can lead to increased insurance premiums, difficulty finding employment, and social stigma. It’s essential to understand the full scope of these penalties and take proactive steps to mitigate their impact.

Aggravating Factors and Enhanced Penalties

Several aggravating factors can lead to enhanced penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida. These factors include having a BAC of 0.15% or higher, having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, or causing an accident that results in injury or property damage. Enhanced penalties can include longer jail sentences, higher fines, and additional requirements such as the installation of an ignition interlock device.

What are the enhanced penalties for a DUI in Florida? Enhanced penalties for a DUI in Florida can include longer jail sentences, higher fines, and additional requirements such as the installation of an ignition interlock device.

  • High BAC Level: A BAC of 0.15% or higher can lead to increased fines and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • Minor in Vehicle: Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense can result in enhanced penalties, including longer jail time.
  • Accidents and Injuries: Causing an accident that results in injury or property damage can lead to felony charges and significantly harsher penalties.

Understanding these aggravating factors is crucial for anyone facing a DUI charge. If you find yourself in this situation, it is imperative to seek legal assistance from a knowledgeable DUI attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of your case and work towards minimizing the impact of these enhanced penalties.

Second and Subsequent DUI Offenses

Penalties for second and subsequent DUI offenses in Florida are significantly harsher. A second DUI offense within five years of the first can result in up to nine months in jail, fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, and a minimum five-year license revocation. For third and subsequent offenses, the penalties escalate even further, including potential felony charges, extended jail time, and substantial fines.

  • Second DUI Offense: Up to nine months in jail, fines from $1,000 to $2,000, and a minimum five-year license revocation.
  • Third DUI Offense: Potential felony charges, up to five years in prison, and fines up to $5,000.
  • Fourth DUI Offense: Felony charges with severe penalties, including extended prison time and significant fines.

The stakes are incredibly high for repeat offenders. The legal system aims to impose stricter penalties to deter individuals from reoffending and to protect public safety. If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI charge, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation to help you navigate the legal process and advocate for your rights.

At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and the severe penalties that can follow a conviction. Our team of skilled DUI lawyers is dedicated to providing personalized legal representation to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Whether you are facing your first DUI charge or a subsequent offense, we are here to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

For more information on DUI penalties and how to defend against DUI charges, you can explore our Beginner’s Guide to DUI in Florida or learn about the Direct File Process for DUI Cases in Florida.

If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers at 407-476-4111 to schedule a free consultation and discuss the best strategies to fight your DUI charge. We are committed to providing the support and legal expertise you need to navigate this challenging time.

Defending Against DUI Charges in Florida

Defending against DUI charges in Florida requires a thorough understanding of the law and the ability to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution. Common defenses include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, questioning the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood test results, and disputing the officer’s observations and conclusions about the driver’s impairment. These defenses can be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal, making it crucial to have a skilled DUI attorney on your side.

Effective DUI defense strategies can involve filing motions to suppress evidence, negotiating plea deals, and preparing for trial. An experienced DUI attorney can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and leverage them to achieve the best possible outcome for the defendant.

What is a motion to suppress? A motion to suppress is a legal strategy used to exclude evidence that was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

One of the most common defenses is challenging the legality of the traffic stop. If the initial stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence gathered during the stop may be inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.

Another critical defense strategy is questioning the accuracy of chemical tests. Breathalyzers and other chemical tests are not infallible. Factors such as improper calibration, maintenance issues, and operator error can lead to inaccurate results. An experienced DUI attorney can scrutinize these aspects to challenge the validity of the test results.

Scrutinizing the officer’s observations and procedures is also crucial. The observations and procedures followed by the arresting officer are critical components of a DUI case. Any deviations from standard protocols or inconsistencies in the officer’s report can be used to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. For instance, understanding the concept of Actual Physical Control (APC) can be pivotal in some cases.

In some instances, it may be possible to negotiate a plea deal. This can involve reducing the charges to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving, which carries less severe penalties than a DUI conviction. This is often a viable option when the evidence against the defendant is strong, but there are mitigating circumstances that can be leveraged during negotiations. For more insights, check out our comprehensive guide to DUI defenses.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are often used by law enforcement officers to assess a driver’s level of impairment. However, these tests can be highly subjective and prone to error. Factors such as the driver’s physical condition, weather conditions, and even the officer’s training and experience can affect the outcome of these tests. Understanding the nuances of field sobriety exercises can provide valuable defense strategies.

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test measures the involuntary jerking of the eyes as they follow a moving object. It’s often challenged for its scientific validity.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test: This test requires the driver to walk in a straight line, turn, and walk back. Balance issues or medical conditions can lead to false positives.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: The driver must stand on one leg for a specific duration. Again, balance issues or nervousness can affect performance.

Challenging the results of these tests can be a critical component of a successful DUI defense. An attorney can argue that the tests were improperly administered or that the results were influenced by factors unrelated to alcohol consumption.

At Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers, we are committed to providing robust defense strategies tailored to each client’s unique situation. Our attorneys have the experience and expertise to challenge the evidence against you and work towards the best possible outcome. From filing motions in limine to suppress inadmissible evidence to leveraging Brady material to unveil exculpatory evidence, our team is dedicated to fighting for your rights.

If you or a loved one are facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation. Our experienced legal team is here to provide the support and expertise you need to navigate this challenging time.


Importance of Hiring a Skilled DUI Lawyer in Florida

Facing DUI charges in Florida can be daunting, with severe penalties and long-lasting consequences. Hiring a skilled DUI lawyer is essential to navigate the complexities of DUI law and protect your rights. A knowledgeable attorney can challenge the evidence, negotiate plea deals, and work towards minimizing the impact of the charges. An experienced lawyer also provides valuable guidance on the legal process, helping you make informed decisions about your case.

Choosing the Right DUI Lawyer

Choosing the right DUI lawyer is crucial for a successful defense. Factors to consider include the attorney’s experience, track record, and familiarity with local DUI laws and court procedures. A good DUI attorney will offer a personalized approach, taking the time to understand the specifics of your case and develop a tailored defense strategy. At Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers, we pride ourselves on our extensive experience and dedication to our clients.

For example, Leslie Sammis has focused her career on DUI cases for over 20 years. She is a member of the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA). Her advanced training on the Intoxilyzer 8000 and numerous trial victories make her a formidable advocate for those facing DUI charges in Florida.

What is the role of a DUI lawyer? A DUI lawyer defends individuals charged with DUI by challenging evidence, negotiating plea deals, and providing legal guidance to minimize the impact of the charges.

When facing DUI charges, time is of the essence. Contacting a DUI lawyer immediately can significantly impact the outcome of your case. At Leppard Law, you can speak directly with an attorney on the phone, schedule a same-day Zoom meeting, or have a face-to-face consultation at our office. This immediate access to legal counsel ensures that your rights are protected from the very beginning.

Criminal Lawyer Documents Fl Courthouse

One of the critical aspects of DUI defense is understanding the various stages of the legal process. From the initial arrest to the final court proceedings, each step requires careful navigation and strategic decision-making. Our attorneys at Leppard Law are well-versed in the intricacies of DUI cases and can guide you through each stage with confidence and expertise.

For instance, the first stage in a DUI case involves protecting your driving privileges. After an arrest, the officer will take your driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension if you blew over the legal limit or refused to take the requested breath, blood, or urine test. During the ten-day period following the arrest, you must decide whether to demand a formal review hearing or request immediate reinstatement. Retaining a DUI attorney during this critical period is essential to safeguard your driving privileges.

At Leppard Law, we always recommend demanding the formal review hearing within the ten-day period. This approach allows us to challenge the administrative suspension and gather evidence that might lead to a better result in the criminal case. Our attorneys have successfully invalidated suspensions for various reasons, including the arresting officer’s failure to appear or submit required documents on time.

Another crucial aspect of DUI defense is challenging the legality of the traffic stop. If the initial stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence gathered during the stop may be inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case. Additionally, questioning the accuracy of chemical tests and scrutinizing the officer’s observations and procedures can further strengthen your defense.

Our attorneys at Leppard Law have extensive experience in filing motions to suppress evidence and negotiating plea deals. For example, if your case involves a refusal to submit to testing or a breath test reading over .08 or .15, we can leverage our knowledge and expertise to challenge the evidence and work towards a favorable outcome. We have successfully litigated numerous motions to suppress and motions to dismiss DUI charges, resulting in “not guilty” verdicts in both felony and misdemeanor DUI cases.

Moreover, understanding the concept of Actual Physical Control (APC) and other key legal principles can play a significant role in your defense. Our attorneys are well-versed in these concepts and can use them to your advantage in court.

At Leppard Law, we understand that each DUI case is unique, and we take a personalized approach to every client. We take the time to listen to your concerns, analyze the facts of your case, and develop a customized defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. Our commitment to providing exceptional legal representation has earned us a reputation as one of the top DUI defense firms in Florida.

If you or a loved one are facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation. Our experienced legal team is here to provide the support and expertise you need to navigate this challenging time. Remember, having a skilled DUI lawyer by your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.


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What are the penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Florida?

The penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Florida can be severe and include:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $1,000
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Mandatory attendance at DUI school
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year

How can a DUI lawyer help me in Florida?

A DUI lawyer in Florida can help you by:

  • Challenging the legality of the traffic stop
  • Questioning the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood test results
  • Disputing the officer’s observations and conclusions
  • Filing motions to suppress evidence
  • Negotiating plea deals
  • Providing valuable guidance on the legal process

What should I do immediately after being charged with a DUI in Florida?

If you are charged with a DUI in Florida, you should:

  • Contact a DUI lawyer immediately
  • Request a formal review hearing within the first ten days
  • Gather all relevant documentation and evidence
  • Follow your attorney’s advice closely
  • Avoid discussing your case with anyone other than your lawyer

Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Florida?

Yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer test in Florida, but there are consequences. Refusing a breathalyzer test can result in:

  • An automatic driver’s license suspension
  • Additional penalties if convicted of DUI
  • Potential use of the refusal as evidence of guilt in court


Explore additional practice areas we serve to find the legal support you need:

Beginner’s Guide to DUI in Florida Direct File Process for DUI Cases in Florida
Difference Between DUI and DWI in Florida DUI Uniform Traffic Citations in Florida
Actual Physical Control (APC) in Florida DUIs Florida’s .08 Per Se Standard for DUI
Blowing Over the Legal Limit but Not Drunk Should I Get a Lawyer for a DUI in Florida
What to Do After a DUI in Florida Step-by-Step Guide to the Florida DUI Legal Process
How Long Does the DUI Process Take in Florida I Just Got a DUI, What’s Next?
Most Common Questions About Florida DUIs Answered How to Beat Your DUI Case

Top-Rated DUI Lawyers Serving Florida

Choosing the appropriate legal representation is crucial when pursuing a claim. A seasoned, committed DUI attorney ensures you’re equipped to make informed choices at each phase of the process.

  • John Vallillo: As a stalwart in the Florida legal scene, John Vallillo has earned his stripes through a consistent record of case dismissals and proactive defense. His background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney enriches his strategic defense planning with invaluable insights.
  • Joe Easton: Renowned for crafting winning defenses, Joe Easton’s approach to legal advocacy in Florida combines thorough preparation with aggressive representation. His notable recognitions and ratings stand testament to his exceptional service and client-focused approach.
  • Joel Leppard: Joel Leppard infuses every DUI case with a level of personal commitment and innovative thinking that sets him apart. His leadership has not only grown Leppard Law into a top-rated criminal defense law firm but also ensured that clients receive empathetic, effective legal care.