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Florida DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony?

When you’re pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence, it’s important to understand just how serious your situation is. You’re facing criminal charges, and that can affect your future. It’s also important to understand just how severe the impact of a DUI conviction can be.

Understanding the nature and severity of your DUI charge can help you know what to expect and why it’s so important to avoid a conviction. But how do you avoid a DUI conviction in Florida? Call an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer at Hersem Law as soon as possible.

Misdemeanor DUI vs. Felony DUI in Florida

Most crimes in Florida can easily be described as either a first- or second-degree misdemeanor or a first-, second-, or third-degree felony. Each category has a maximum sentence that applies to all charges assigned to that classification. For example, a typical second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to sixty days in jail, six months of probation, and a $500 fine. 

A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. However, Florida Statute 316.193, which covers Florida DUI offenses, is much more complex and can be very confusing.

Tons of factors can affect whether your DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, as well as whether you’ll face a first- or second-degree misdemeanor charge. Or is it somewhere in between? In Florida, DUIs are unique in the fact that they don’t  fall into the normal definitions of first- or second-degree misdemeanor. 

That being said, a first-time-DUI will always be a misdemeanor offense unless there was an accident with serious injuries or death involved. If your BAC was below .15 or you refused to provide a breath sample, your charge will most likely be considered a “standard DUI,” which comes with a maximum penalty of six months in jail. 

If your BAC was above .15, your DUI in Florida will be considered “enhanced,” which increases the maximum sentence to nine months in jail. If there was an accident with property damage and/or you had a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time of your offense, then your DUI will become a true first-degree misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty can be up to a year in jail.   

A second DUI within five years of the first conviction carries several enhanced penalties.  These include: a ten-day minimum mandatory jail sentence; increased fines; a five-year driver’s license suspension; and a lengthy ignition interlock device requirement after your license is back in your hands. The sentence for a second DUI outside of five years of a first conviction looks like a first-time DUI sentence, but there are some enhanced penalties with this charge, as well, such as no permit available for driving during the criminal license suspension and a mandatory ignition interlock device requirement. 

A third DUI within ten years of a second conviction can be charged as a felony.  This offense also requires a thirty-day minimum jail sentence. However, a third DUI outside of ten years of the second conviction remains a misdemeanor offense and can no longer be charged as a felony. 

Contact a Tampa DUI Lawyer for Help 

If you’re facing a possible DUI conviction in Florida, it’s important to understand your case. Is your Florida DUI a misdemeanor or a felony? The answer depends on the circumstances of your case, but no matter what the charge ends up being, it’s important to fight the charge by calling a lawyer at our firm.

At Hersem Law, we know that even a misdemeanor can have a huge impact on your life, which is why we’re focused on helping you through this, whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony. 

If you’re facing a DUI conviction, get started on your case with a free strategy session. We understand how confusing your case could be, so we offer these short sessions to discuss your case before you commit to our firm. To begin, call 813-251-7291 or complete the online contact form below.

What Are My Rights When Arrested for Drunk Driving in Florida?

A DUI is a serious offense, which is why it’s important to be prepared when you’re pulled over. You want to protect yourself and your future, but that can be tough when you’re not sure what your rights are. 

Learning your rights can help you do more than avoid self-incrimination. Protecting your rights during and after any arrest is vital to your legal defense, so knowing what to expect is important. 

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Florida, reach out to Hersem Law as soon as possible. For more information on your rights when you’ve been arrested for DUI, read on.

Probable Cause

Consider whether the police officer had a right to pull you over, investigate you, and place you under formal arrest. Police officers must have probable cause to arrest you, which means they had a valid reason to stop you and, based on your interactions, they now have well-founded  reason to suspect that you were drinking and driving

Some reasons for the stop of a vehicle may be swerving, speeding, or sudden lane changes without using your signal. While these mistakes can simply be driving mistakes, you could also be pulled over on suspicion of drinking. Your attorney from Hersem Law can help you determine whether the officer truly had enough to pull you over and if there was probable cause for your arrest. 

Miranda Rights

If the police choose to arrest you, it’s important to remain respectful. However, that doesn’t mean telling the police everything. In any event, you should have your Miranda rights read to you upon your arrest. These state, in part, that you do not have to speak or answer questions that would incriminate you. 

Because of this, you don’t have to answer the police officer’s questions about what you’ve been drinking, how much you drank, or anything else about your day or night. The officer who pulled you over may try to get you to talk. Typically, however, you’ll want to avoid saying anything until an attorney is present. 

Protect Your Rights with a Tampa DUI Attorney

If you’ve been pulled over for drinking and driving, you might be concerned about your legal case, but what about your rights?

At Hersem Law, we understand how easy it can be to accidentally overlook a violation of your rights, say something incriminating, or make your situation worse for yourself. That’s why we offer free strategy sessions. We can talk about your case and your rights when you’ve been arrested for drunk driving. 

When you’re ready, give us a call at 813-251-7291 or fill out the online contact form at the bottom of this page.

How Do I Know if There Is a Warrant for My Arrest in Florida?

You might have simply been going about your day when you found out that there was a warrant out for your arrest. That’s an upsetting situation, as you might not have expected it. 

In other cases, you may believe there’s a warrant for your arrest but you aren’t certain one way or the other. You might be asking yourself, “How do I know if there is a warrant for my arrest in Florida?” The short answer? Call an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Hersem Law. In the meantime, read on for more information.

What Leads to a Warrant in Florida? 

In Florida, there are several types of warrants, and they can be issued for multiple reasons. Typically, you’ll know if you missed a court date or violated your probation, and both of those actions could trigger a warrant with your name on it.

But what you may not know is that law enforcement could have been investigating you for a crime and, based on their report, the state attorney decided to file formal charges against you. That scenario will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest, as well. 

Finding Your Warrant 

To find out whether there is a warrant for your arrest in Florida, you can check the local database for the sheriff’s office in your county. There is also a statewide service from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that is supposed to keep all warrants throughout the state of Florida in a uniform fashion. 

Keep in mind that some warrants will remain hidden from public view until you are arrested, and there’s no way to find out whether it’s out there or not. 

Either way, if you believe an arrest is imminent, you should talk to your Hersem Law attorney. You’ll want an experienced legal ally on your side from the moment that warrant hits the system so you’ll know what to do if an officer contacts you to ask questions or make an arrest

Unfortunately, arrests sometimes happen before you can talk to your defense lawyer, but if you find out about the warrant beforehand, then there are many ways we can help you with a discreet arrest or possibly a motion to the court to make sure your warrant doesn’t end with you being put in jail. Having a plan in place can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.

Contact an Arrest Lawyer in Tampa for Help

Your lawyer from Hersem Law can guide you during this difficult time. We’re focused on helping you get through the system quickly and, more importantly, with the best results possible. If you’re not sure where to begin, we offer free strategy sessions where we can discuss what to do about your impending warrant. 

Reach out for the legal guidance you need by calling 813-251-7291. You can also contact us by filling out the online contact form at the bottom of this page.

Is It Legal to Text at a Red Light in Florida?

When you’re stopped at a red light, it can be tempting to send a quick response to that urgent text. A quick text may not seem like much, but you may have already been pulled over by a Florida police officer for using your phone behind the wheel.

However, is it legal to text at a red light in Florida? Your legal options for situations like this can be confusing, so speak to your lawyer at Hersem Law for help disputing your ticket.

Florida’s Texting while Driving Laws

Many states, including Florida, have made bans on texting while driving. Distracted driving contributes to thousands of crashes every year, and stopping distracted driving can make a difference. However, what about when your car isn’t moving?

In Florida, you are legally allowed to text while your car is stationary. So, while you were still behind the wheel when texting, you may have a chance to act on your traffic ticket. Rather than accepting the penalties, you may have a chance to avoid them.

Acting on a Texting and Driving Ticket

If you’re accused of texting while driving, but you were at a red light, you’ll need to act now to see if you can get your traffic ticket dropped. You’ll need to plead not guilty to dispute your ticket. From there, you’ll then be given a date to appear in traffic court.

When you’re in court, your attorney can help you dispute the details of your traffic ticket. You may have evidence, for example, that you were only texting at a red light. The officer may also agree that you were at a red light, and your attorney may simply need to argue that texting at a red light is an exception to the rule in Florida.

However, the exact defense for your case will depend on the details of your traffic stop. Make sure to discuss your options with your attorney before you plead guilty or not guilty for your texting ticket.

Contact Your Florida Attorney to Fight Your Ticket

When you’ve been accused of texting and driving, it might feel like you have no other options than to accept your charge and your penalties. However, you should also be asking, “Is it legal to text at a red light in Florida?” Fortunately, the answer is yes.

Even then, you’ll still need to beat your traffic ticket. A lawyer from Hersem Law can help. Our attorneys can guide you through your day in traffic court, doing whatever’s possible to see that your ticket is completely dismissed. Get started today with a free strategy session, where we’ll discuss Florida’s texting laws and what you can do about your traffic ticket.

Ready to get started? Give your traffic ticket lawyer a call at 813-251-7291 or fill out the following online form.