DUI Attorneys in Tampa, FL
Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
Hillsborough County has more DUI arrests than other counties in Florida. The vast majority of these DUI cases involve the following agencies:
- Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO);
- Tampa Police Department (TPD); and
- Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
The DUI investigation might begin with a routine traffic stop or a crash investigation. Some officers have a breath test machine, the Intoxilyzer 8000, in the back of their patrol vehicle. If not, the breath test is administered at the Central Breath Testing (CBT) Unit at the Orient Road Jail.
DUI enforcement officers often work together during “saturation patrols” or “sobriety checkpoints” to pool their resources while using the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) mobile facility unit.
After the arrest, the DUI citation is reported to the DHSMV, triggering the administrative suspension of the driver’s license. The driver only has ten (10) days to contest the administrative suspension by demanding a formal review hearing. At the hearing, the hearing officer might invalidate the administrative suspension so it is removed from the driving record.
Prosecutors have considerable resources to prosecute DUI cases in Hillsborough County, FL. You need an experienced lawyer focused on DUI defense to fight for you.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm focus on DUI defense in Hillsborough County, FL. Our focus helps us spot issues others might miss when fighting administrative suspensions, negotiating the best pre-trial settlements, and preparing the cases for evidentiary hearings and jury trials.
With offices conveniently in downtown Tampa, our regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Our attorneys are on call to answer your questions after regular business hours, on weekends, and during holidays.
Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.
When you call our office, ask to speak with an attorney or schedule a confidential consultation in the office. If you call after our regular business hours, leave a message with our answering service. One of the attorneys will call you back to discuss your case.
Or use our evaluation form on the upper right of our website to send a message so we can call you back.
Call 813-250-0500 now to find out how we can help.
Local Tampa Attorneys Focused on DUI Defense
Our offices have been at the same location in downtown Tampa for more than fifteen years. By focusing on DUI defense, our attorneys can stay current on the most recent changes in the law and the best DUI defense tactics that win cases.
Getting the best possible resolution requires extraordinary efforts at every stage of the case. When fighting the criminal charge in court, we take a scholarly approach to filing and litigating pre-trial motions, including:
- motions to suppress evidence illegally obtained by law enforcement officers;
- motions to dismiss charges not supported by sufficient evidence; and
- motions to exclude unduly prejudicial or irrelevant evidence.
The pre-trial motions ask the judge to throw out evidence or dismiss the charges altogether. Pre-trial motions are important because if the judge decides that some evidence cannot be used at trial, the prosecutor may drop the charges or reduce the DUI to a less serious offense, such as reckless driving.
Should your case go to trial, pretrial motions are extremely valuable in eliminating irrelevant or prejudicial evidence. By excluding that evidence, you increase the likelihood of a “not guilty” verdict. The best chance of winning the case often depends on the outcome of these pre-trial motions.
As a practical matter, the more your attorney fights the charges and prepares for trial, the more motivated the prosecutor becomes to resolve your case for a better plea deal before trial.
Getting the prosecutor to reduce the DUI to reckless driving is only half the battle. All the terms can be negotiated. For example, if you get a “withhold of adjudication” for reckless driving, you might be eligible to seal the record after completing probation.
Ten-Day Rule – How to Protect Your Driving Privileges
After an arrest for drunk driving in Hillsborough County, the arresting officer will seize your driver’s license if:
- your BAC is over the legal limit of .08; or
- you refused to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine after being read the implied consent warning.
The administrative suspension triggered by the DUI arrest is sometimes called the “on-the-spot” suspension. After the arrest, you only have ten (10) days to demand a formal review hearing to contest the suspension.
Some people might tell you to waive all your rights by seeking a “waiver review hearing” to obtain an immediate hardship license. The problem with seeking an immediate hardship license is that you must waive all your rights to contest the suspension.
In other words, you essentially stipulate to the administrative finding that you were DUI. The administrative suspension will remain on your driving record for the next seventy-five (75) years.
Instead of waiving your rights, hire an attorney to DEMAND a “formal review hearing” to contest the administrative suspension. If you win, the DHSMV will forever remove the suspension from your driving record as if it never happened.
Even if the suspension is not invalidated, your attorney can cross-examine each of the witnesses against you. That information can be used later in the case during any motion hearing or trial.
If you hire us within the first ten (10) days after your arrest, we can make the demand on your behalf and obtain your 42-day permit. The 42-day permit allows you to continue driving while we fight the administrative suspension.
The formal review hearing is one of the most essential parts of the case. Too many people waive their right to a formal review hearing by seeking an immediate hardship license without understanding the lifelong consequences of that decision.
The rules for formal review hearings at the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) are complicated. Before you decide, call us to discuss the best way to fight the case.
RIDR Diversion Program for a First DUI in Tampa, FL
Want some good news? For a first DUI in Tampa, FL, with an arrest date on or after March 1, 2018, you might qualify for “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism.” The State Attorney’s Office manages the new RIDR diversion program in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL.
Entering a DUI diversion program might be your best option, especially if overwhelming evidence exists in your case. If the prosecutor has enough evidence to secure a conviction at trial, you should consider entering a diversion program.
In exchange for completing enhanced sanctions, such as installing an ignition interlock device or a SCRAM monitoring device, you can receive a negotiated plea for a “reckless driving” charge with a withhold of adjudication. The withhold of adjudication means you might be eligible to seal the criminal record and mugshot.
RIDR is only available for a first-time, non-aggravated DUI charge not involving a crash or property damage. Our DUI defense attorneys understand the eligibility requirements and the best way to complete the RIDR program.
Why You Should Fight the DUI Charge
We created this website to give you general information about different ways to fight a drunk driving case. Many people assume that an arrest means a conviction will necessarily occur.
The statistics on Florida DUI cases indicate that just 60% of all DUI citations resulted in a conviction for DUI or reckless driving.
A DUI conviction is avoided when:
- the prosecutor drops the DUI charge before trial;
- the prosecutor reduces the DUI charge to a less serious offense such as “reckless driving”;
- the court dismisses the DUI charge; or
- the jury returns a “not guilty” verdict at trial.
In DUI cases (often called “DWI” or “OVI” in other states), the prosecutor must prove the driver was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his blood or breath alcohol level (BAL) was over .08 (this type of case is often called the “DUBAL”).
Enhanced penalties apply if the breath or blood alcohol concentration is .15 or over. If your BAC was .15 or above, then you are not alone. Recent DUI statistics show that the average breath alcohol concentration (BAC) reading in Florida is at .015.
Alternatively, the prosecutor can prove that the driver’s “normal faculties” were impaired due to alcohol intoxication or drug impairment. If the driver refuses to submit to a test of his breath, blood, or urine, then only the second option is available to the prosecution.
Stages of a DUI case in Hillsborough County, FL
After your arrest for DUI, your criminal defense lawyer can waive your appearance at many (if not all) of the pre-trial court dates. Waiving your appearance at pre-trial court dates saves you the stress and inconvenience of going to court when your appearance is unnecessary.
The stages of the DUI case include:
- the first appearance or bond hearing (sometimes called “the advisory”)
- the formal review hearing to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by the DHSMV, which usually occurs within 40 days of your arrest
- the arraignment in the DUI case
- the disposition dates (often called the “status hearings”)
- evidentiary hearings on a motion to suppress evidence or motion to dismiss the DUI charge
- pre-trial conferences
- the bench trial or jury trial
Pre-Trial Motions and Challenges to the Prosecutor’s Case
For many individuals charged with drunk driving, 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, your criminal defense attorney can negotiate all the plea deal terms with the prosecutor.
The most important part of the negotiation is whether you will be “adjudicated guilty” of reckless driving or the court will “withhold adjudication.” If the court agrees to withhold adjudication, you might be eligible to seal any record of the arrest or prosecution.
If you receive a “withhold of adjudication” for the reduced charge of “reckless driving,” you might be eligible to seal the record, allowing you to deny or fail to acknowledge that the arrest ever occurred.
Sealing the record also means that your mug shot and embarrassing details about your case will disappear from public view. If your charges are dropped, you might be eligible to expunge your record.
If you are adjudicated guilty of DUI or reckless driving, you will not be eligible to seal or expunge the record (or any other criminal history record in Florida).
Reasons Why Prosecutors Reduce DUI Charges
The DUI prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, Hillsborough, FL, may agree to reduce or drop the drunk driving charges for a wide variety of reasons, including:
- RIDR – For a first-time offense, you might qualify for a diversion program that will result in a reduction to reckless driving in exchange for completing enhanced sanctions.
- 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, or the Florida Highway Patrol.
- DUI Sobriety Checkpoints – A stop during a checkpoint is the most heavily scrutinized type of detention under the Fourth Amendment. If any part of the checkpoint was set up improperly, then the evidence from every stop in that checkpoint can be thrown out by the court. Read more about our recent DUI checkpoint cases.
- Other Motions – Concerns about the defense winning a motion to exclude other evidence in the case, including evidence that you either:
- refused to take a chemical test; or
- took the breath test but blew over the legal limit of .08.
- Problems with the Intoxilyzer 8000 – Concerns about motions to attack the accuracy or reliability of the breath test machine or the particular breath test reading obtained in your case. Your attorney can file motions to show that the Intoxilyzer 8000 used in your case was not substantially compliant with the administrative and statutory rules governing these machines’ maintenance.
- Video Evidence – Concerns about the jury returning a “not guilty” verdict if the driver does not look or sound intoxicated or impaired on the DUI video at the roadside or the jail.
- Expert Witness – Concerns about a DUI expert witness listed by the defense that can undermine the admissibility or weight given to a key piece of evidence the prosecutor intends to rely on at trial (such as the results of any breath, blood, or urine test or performance on a field sobriety exercises).
Avoiding the Expenses for a DUI Conviction
We created this website to provide general information about the possible DUI costs and fees resulting from not fighting the case aggressively. The direct costs are those imposed by the Court, which include:
- Twelve (12) months of supervised misdemeanor probation;
- Fifty (50) hours of community service hours;
- Level I or Level II DUI school;
- Alcohol and substance abuse evaluation and all recommended 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; or
- 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 your automobile insurance premiums (including “FR-44 insurance”).
Lesser-known indirect expenses include increases to your life or medical insurance. The criminal record might impact your future educational and employment opportunities.
Remember that if you are convicted of DUI, the DUI conviction will remain on your driving record for the next seventy-five (75) years. Obtaining an attorney as early as possible after the arrest is critical to preserving the best opportunities to attack administrative suspensions and criminal charges.
Collateral Consequences of a DUI Arrest or Conviction
After a DUI arrest, several indirect or collateral consequences occur. A DUI conviction on your criminal record might cause potential employers to make negative assumptions about your character and be unwilling to offer you a job.
These consequences are especially harsh for individuals in certain professions and those who require unique state or federal certification, including:
- doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals
- school teachers and certified educators
- members of the military
- law enforcement officers at the local, state, or federal level
After an arrest for DUI at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, FL, your DUI case will be prosecuted in the federal court in the Middle District of Florida, United States District Court, Tampa Division. Special considerations apply to cases prosecuted in federal court. You must act quickly in these cases to preserve all avenues of attack.
Drivers with a CDL license face draconian sanctions after an arrest or conviction for DUI or any serious driving offense.
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 Sammis Law Firm, we strive to protect our clients from the direct consequences of a DUI arrest and prosecution and many hidden and indirect impacts.
Being on probation for DUI is dangerous because if you do not complete the terms, then the probation officer can file the paperwork to have a violation of misdemeanor probation warrant issued for your arrest.
The penalties are even harsher if you were charged with leaving the scene of an accident or hit and run after a traffic crash, especially when you are also charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Finding the DUI Lawyer in Hillsborough County, FL
Choosing the best DUI attorney for your case in Tampa, FL, is essential. We created this website to explain how we fight DUI cases. Our website explains the best DUI defenses and the most effective ways to fight the charges.
No substitute exists, however, for speaking directly with a criminal defense lawyer about the particular facts of your case so that you can receive advice on the best way to proceed.
How do you find the best DUI defense attorney for your case? Consider the attorney’s training and experience. Our DUI attorneys belong to the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA), organizations for the top-rated DUI attorneys in Florida and throughout the United States.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are focused on crimes that occur in a vehicle. Those traffic crimes can include DUI, reckless driving, leaving the scene, racing on the highway, leaving the scene of a crash, driving on a suspended license, and fleeing to elude.
Hiring the cheapest DUI attorney in town might not be in your best interest. Instead, find the top DUI attorney focused on proving the most effective and aggressive defense.
Our main office is in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. We also have offices conveniently located at:
7509 Little Rd, New Port Richey, FL 34654, across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center; and
- 14010 Roosevelt Blvd #701, Clearwater, FL 33762, near the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center (CJC) on 49th Street.
Learn more about how we fight DUI cases in New Port Richey in Pasco County and Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.
Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the best strategy to fight your DUI charge.
Call 813-250-0500 today.