Sammis Law Firm, P.A.1005 N. Marion St.Tampa, FL 33602813-250-0500
Tampa DUI Lawyer
After an arrest for driving under the influence ("DUI") in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We have three attorneys in our office that focus on DUI cases in Hillsborough County, including cases in Tampa and Plant City, Florida. Our offices are conveniently located near the courthouse in downtown Tampa.
Call us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case over the phone or in the office. Choosing the best DUI attorney for your particular case is an important decision. We welcome your calls even after normal business hours or on weekends. A DUI arrest can cause long-lasting and life changing consequences. Contact us today to find out what you need to do immediately to protect your priviledge to drive and your good name.
Focusing on DUI defense allows us to stay current on the most recent changes in the law. We take a scholarly approach to filing and litigating motions to suppress evidence and motions to dismiss the criminal charges. The pre-trial motions ask the judge to throw out certain evidence against you or even dismiss the charges completely.
Even if the charges are not dismissed, if the judge decides that certain evidence cannot be used at trial, then the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the charges to a less serious offense such as reckless driving. Should your case go to trial, pretrial motions are extremely valuable in eliminating certain irrelevant or prejudicial evidence that often increases the likelihood of a "not guilty" verdict.
Why You Should Fight the DUI Charges
We created this website to give you general information about different ways to fight a drunk driving case. Many people assume that if they were arrested then the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa will be able to obtain a conviction for DUI.
The statistics on DUI cases in Florida in 2011 indicate that just over 60% of all DUI citations resulted in a conviction. Many drunk driving cases are resolved without a conviction either because:
- the prosecutor decides to reduce the charges to "reckless driving" prior to trial;
- the charges are dismissed by the court prior to trial; or
- the individual is found "not guilty" at trial.
Under Florida law, DUI (often called DWI in other states) the prosecutor must prove that the the person accused was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while his or her "normal faculties" were impaired due to alcohol intoxication or drug impairment. Alternatively, the prosecutor can allege that the driver was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) was over .08. Using the driver's BAC level is often called a "DUBAL" prosecution.
Avoiding the Expenses for a DUI Conviction
Most importantly, we want to provide you with general information about the possible DUI costs and fees that could result from not fighting the case aggressively. The direct costs are those imposed by the Court, including:
- twelve (12) months of supervised probation;
- fifty (50) hours of community service hours;
- DUI school (either Level I or Level II);
- alcohol and substance abuse evaluation and follow up counseling;
- fines and court costs;
- costs of supervision, costs of investigation, and costs of prosecution;
- vehicle impoundment or immobilization;
- the possibility of jail time or incarceration; and
- installation of the dreaded ignition interlock device.
Even more costly are the hidden costs of a DUI conviction which can include a dramatic increase in you automobile insurance premiums (including "FR-44 insurance"). Lesser known indirect expenses can include increases in life or medical insurance, and the impact a criminal record might have on your future educational and employment opportunities. Obtaining an attorney as early as possible after the arrest is an important step towards preserving all avenues of attack.
Protect Your Driver's License - The 10 Day Rule
After you are arrested for drunk driving in Hillsborough County, the arresting officer will take your driver's license if you either blow over the legal limit of .08 or if you allegedly "refused" to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine. After the arrest you only have ten (10) days to demand a formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license. After your DUI attorney in Tampa makes that demand, we can help you obtain a 42 day driving permit while we fight the suspension (assuming your driver's license was valid at the time of your arrest).
The Importance of the Formal Review Hearing
The formal review hearing is one of the most important parts of your case. At the formal review hearing your attorney can present evidence and question witnesses about why your administrative suspension should be invalidated or taken off your record.
The formal review hearing also gives your attorney the chance to cross-examine the DUI enforcement officer that performed the stop and made the arrest, as well as the breath test machine technician and those involved with the calibration and inspection of the machine. During the formal review hearing, your DUI lawyer can subpoena important documents and witnesses and explore defenses that may ultimately help you to avoid the administrative suspension. That same testimony and evidence becomes critical as you fight the criminal charges in court.
Stages of a DUI case in Tampa, FL
After your arrest for DUI, your criminal defense lawyer in Tampa can usually waive your appearance at many, if not all of the pre-trial court dates saving you the stress and inconvenience of going to court. Your DUI attorney in Tampa will handle the various stages of your case.
- Formal Review Hearing to fight the administrative suspension of your driver's license by the DMV which usually occurs within 45 days of your arrest;
- Disposition or status hearings;
- Evidenciary hearings on a motion to suppress evidence or dismiss the DUI charge;
- Pre-trial conferences; and
- Bench trial or jury trial.
Pre-Trial Motions and Challenges to the Prosecutor's Case
For many individuals charged with DUI, the goal is to avoid a DUI conviction by getting the prosecutor to agree to reduce the case to reckless driving. Even once the charge is reduced to reckless driving, all of the terms of the deal can be negotiated including whether you are "adjudicated guilty" of reckless driving or whether the court will "withhold adjudication" which might allow you to seal the criminal record.
The DUI prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa, Hillsborough, FL, may agree to reduce drunk driving charges for a wide variety of reasons including:
- Unlawful Stop - Concerns about the defense winning a motion to suppress evidence because of an unlawful stop performed by a law enforcement officer with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Tampa Police Department, the Temple Terrace Police Department, or the Florida Highway Patrol;
- Other Motions - Concerns about the defense winning a motion to exclude other evidence in the case, including evidence that you refused to take a chemical test, or evidence concerning the results of a breath, blood or urine test result.
- Source Code of Breath Test Machine - Concerns about motions to attack the breath test machine, or demands to release the "source code" of the particular breath test machine under in your case in Tampa, Hillsborough County;
- Video Evidence - Concerns about the jury returning a "not guilty" verdict if the driver does not look drunk, impaired or intoxicated on the DUI video at the roadside or at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office central breath testing facility at the police station during the breath test or while the driver is read his implied consent warning after refusing to take a chemical test.
- Expert Witness - Concerns about a DUI expert witness listed by the defense that can undermine a key piece of evidence the prosecutor otherwise intends to rely on at trial such as the results of a breath, blood or urine test or performance on a field sobriety exercises.
First DUI - Special Considerations
Read more about the possible ways to avoid the penalties and punishments for a first DUI in Florida, including the administrative driver's license suspension, as well as court ordered penalties such as probation with special conditions (DUI school, drug and alcohol evaluation, substance abuse counseling, the victim impact panel, community service, fines, vehicle impoundment, vehicle immobilization and court costs).
The minimum and maximum punishments and consequences associated with a second, third, fourth or subsequent DUI are even more severe under Florida's DUI laws.
Top 10 DUI Arrest Locations for a DUI in Tampa
The DUI enforcement units with Tampa Police Department have developed certain favorite areas to look for individuals who might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, the TPD's website list the top 10 locations for an arrest in Tampa.
Many DUI enforcement officers routinely patrol the same areas or wait for individual who are leaving area bars or other local attractions where alcohol is served. In fact, an overwhelming majority of arrests made by TPD occur after routine traffic stops in these areas within the Tampa city limits:
- Ybor City
- SOHO - Howard Avenue just South of Kennedy Blvd;
MacDill Avenue (Kennedy to Columbus)
- Nebraska Avenue (Waters to Fowler);
the Courtney Campbell Causeway;
Dale Mabry (Martin Luther King to Hillsborough Avenue);
the Tampa Palms area;
Kennedy Blvd (Dale Mabry to Westshore);
Howard Avenue (Kennedy to I-275); and
Tampa's Channelside District.
Tampa Police Department to Increase the Number of DUI Enforcement Officers
A recent article dated December 21, 2012, in FOX 13 News, explains that the City of Tampa Police Department received grant money from the Florida Department of Transportation. Sgt. Raymond Fernandez with TPD who heads their DUI Unit recently announced that the grant will allow the Tampa Police Department to have at least 12 DUI enforcement officers on roving patrol from Thursday through Saturday.
Indirect or Collateral Consequences of a DUI Arrest or Conviction
After a DUI arrest, certain indirect or collateral consequences occur. The consequences are particular harsh for individuals in certain professions and those who require special state or federal certification including doctors, lawyers, nurses and other health care professionals, school teachers, counselors, airline pilots, members of the military, and members of local, state or federal law enforcement agencies.
If you were arrested for DUI at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, FL, your DUI case can be prosecuted in the federal court in the Middle District of Florida, United States District Court, Tampa Division. Special considerations apply to DUI cases prosecuted in federal court. You must act quickly in these cases to preserve all avenues of attack.
Drivers with a CDL license in Tampa face draconian sanctions after an arrest and/or conviction. College students at the University of Tampa (UT) or the University of South Florida (USF) can face immediate consequences to their educational opportunities including a disciplinary hearing even if the college or university student ultimately avoids any DUI conviction.
At the Sammis Law Firm we strive to protect our clients not just from the direct consequences of the DUI arrest and prosecution, but also from many of the hidden and indirect consequences.
Choosing the Best DUI Attorney for Your Case
Choosing the best DUI lawyer for your particular case is an important decision. We created this website to give you very general information about ways to fight DUI cases in Tampa, FL. Find out more about Tampa DUI fees and costs that can result from not fighting the charges. Our website contains general information on DUI stories, statistics, DUI consequences, and defenses in Florida. No substitute exists, however, for speaking directly with a criminal defense lawyer about the particular facts of your misdemeanor or felony case so that you can receive advice on how to proceed.
Contact us to discuss the criminal offense of DUI (also known as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drunk driving, driving while intoxicated, operating a vehicle under the influence, impaired driving, buzzed driving, impaired driving or drinking and driving). Our drunk driving lawyers provide free initial consultations over the phone or in the office. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) fight for increase penalties in DUI cases. Hire an DUI attorney that will fight for the best possible result in your case.
Call 813-250-0500 today for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case with the Tampa DUI Attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm today. Picking or selecting a DUI lawyer for your case requires making an informed decision. Find out more information by visiting our DUI Blog to see a discussion of issues related to drunk driving defense. Article last updated on December 27, 2012.