Anyone who has driven down Florida highways has seen the billboards saying “A cab ride is cheaper than a DUI.” It’s true. But if you’ve made the mistake of getting behind the wheel after having too many drinks, choosing to not defend your DUI is a grave mistake.
If you’re convicted of a DUI, the costs associated with this conviction often end up in the tens of thousands of dollars. Besides that, there is the embarrassment and the hassle of not being able to drive for an extended period of time, as well as possible jail time and hefty fines. In the end, it’s usually not worth it to just plead guilty. The best bet is to speak with a DUI defense lawyer in St. Petersburg who may be able to help you fight the DUI charge and reach a more suitable outcome.
What Is a DUI?
In Florida, a person can be convicted of a DUI if a court rules that they were driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how many drinks over what time period might put them over that limit. Depending on factors such as a person’s body weight and what they’ve eaten during the day, just a couple of drinks at happy hour could put a person over the legal limit.
When the police pull someone over because they suspect that they are driving under the influence, they can ask to measure the driver’s blood alcohol level with a breathalyzer. In Florida, if the driver refuses this test, their license is automatically suspended for up to one year and the officer can arrest them. Administering a Breathalyzer test correctly requires training and following precise steps to ensure that the test comes out accurately. If the officer does not follow the necessary steps, the test could be inaccurate and show that the driver is over the legal limit when they’re really not.
When a person is charged with a DUI that does not mean they are automatically guilty. But the clock starts running right away, so delaying a phone call to an experienced DUI attorney could mean facing jail time, hefty fines, and penalties.
A DUI conviction can mean:
- Spending time in jail
- Paying court costs
- Paying court fines and penalties
- Driver’s license suspension
- Finding and paying for other modes of transportation
- Attending DUI school
- Doing community service
- Installing an ignition interlock device
- Paying more for insurance
- Living with a criminal record
The total of the costs associated with these consequences, including missing work while in jail, can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. Hiring an attorney can often be much cheaper, and has the potential to result in a much better outcome.
These consequences come even with a first DUI. For someone who has been convicted of more than one DUI, jail time is generally longer, fines are generally higher, and their driver’s license is usually suspended for longer.
The negative impacts of a DUI conviction are nearly endless. And they are costly. It is almost always better, and cheaper, to fight your DUI charge. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, start by calling an experienced DUI defense lawyer in St. Petersburg to talk about your options.
DUI Lawyer Fees
While it costs money to hire a lawyer to defend a DUI charge, it will almost always be cheaper than a DUI conviction. When we take on a client, we give them a full case evaluation. We review the evidence and conduct our own investigation. Then we create a plan to help our client get the most favorable outcome possible.
Many people mistakenly think they can handle their own DUI case. They think it will be cheaper. But they don’t know the law like a skilled DUI defense attorney does. In the end, people who try to handle their own DUI case usually end up spending more than they would have spent on a lawyer. A person who represents themselves must be prepared to:
- Enter a plea—guilty or not guilty.
- Conduct the pretrial process – which means preparing evidence, taking depositions, and reviewing records.
- Prepare for trial and present their own case – which often requires finding experts to testify about the breathalyzer, results cross-examining the state’s witnesses, and asking the judge to enter evidence into the record in accordance with the court’s rules.
DUI cases require intricate knowledge of not only Florida’s DUI laws but also rules of evidence. Without years of experience and practice, it’s very difficult to succeed in rebutting the state’s case. The question really becomes how can someone who was charged with a DUI afford not to hire a lawyer?
Don’t Delay in Calling a DUI Defense Lawyer
Look for a DUI defense lawyer who is willing to settle quickly if the prosecution is willing to offer a reasonable plea deal—this helps to keep costs low for you. At the same time, if the case needs to go to trial, look for a lawyer who is fully prepared to protect your rights in court.
Whether the case settles or you go to trial, a good DUI lawyer will fight to ensure that clients pay much less than they would have if they had received a DUI conviction. A DUI conviction can haunt a person’s life and pocketbook for years to come, and it’s hard to avoid a conviction without hiring an experienced attorney.
If you’re charged with a DUI, don’t leave the outcome up to chance—there’s too much at stake. Contact a knowledgeable DUI law team immediately.