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DUIs extend to far more than just driving your car while intoxicated.

Florida has a statute that considers bicycles, ATV’s and boats as vehicles. You can receive a DUI for driving or riding any of these vehicles while intoxicated.  You can also be issued a DUI for falling asleep in the driver’s seat of your car with the keys in the ignition.  This means that if your car is pulled over and you are asleep at the wheel due to intoxication, if your keys are close enough that you could easily start the car and drive you could be cited for a DUI.

Sarasota criminal defense drunk driving


It is important to understand what occurs at a DUI stop. Just because you have been pulled over by the police and have consumed alcohol does not mean you will receive a DUI conviction, go to jail and your life is ruined. In more than one-half of the cases the DUI charges are reduced to lesser charges, such as reckless driving, or dismissed entirely.

While each case is different, the State Attorney can be lenient, if this is your first drunk-driving arrest or you possess a very low amount of alcohol in your system. Similarly, the charges can be dismissed for a lack of evidence, faulty breath test readings or even procedural errors.  However, none of these options may be possible without the proper legal representation on your side. 

​Chemical or Physical Test Provisions (Implied Consent Law)

Refusal: Refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test is admissible as evidence in DUI criminal proceedings. Second or subsequent refusal is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Driver License Suspension Periods: First refusal, suspended for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals, suspended for 18 months.

Commercial Driver License Disqualification Periods: First refusal in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified permanently. No hardship reinstatement permitted.

Forceful Withdrawal of Blood: If necessary, blood may be withdrawn in DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death by authorized medical personnel with the use of reasonable force by the arresting officer, even if the driver refuses.

Unconscious: Any person who is incapable of refusal by reason of unconsciousness or other mental or physical condition shall be deemed not to have withdrawn his consent to such test. A blood test may be administered whether or not such person is told that his failure to submit to such a blood test will result in the suspension of his privilege to operate a motor vehicle.


At the Scene and Arrest

Once the Sarasota police officers arrive at the scene you will be questioned and asked to take a breathalyzer test.  Regardless of the results, once the Sarasota Police have determined you are eligible for arrest you will be handcuffed, taken to the station and put into the "drunk tank" where you will sit for about three hours with anyone else who was arrested that night. During this time they will take your mugshot (which immediately goes on the Internet) and asked to change into prison garb at this time. 

You will be allowed to make a phone call which should be to anyone who can and will post bail for you—round $200 to $500 (it is usually 10% of the actual bail). At some point during all of this you will appear before a judge who will set your bail and future court date.

Hiring a Lawyer to Defend You

You need to hire a lawyer immediately.

Losing Your License and Obtaining a Hardship License

About ten days after your Sarasota DUI arrest, your license will be taken away. Following that, you will have a hearing with the Sarasota DMV, who will decide if you are able to get it back before your court date or if you will have to apply for a "hardship" license. If you have a lawyer he or she will go to this for you. If you took a breathalyzer and were above the legal limit it is highly unlikely you will get your driving privileges back at this time.

Regardless of the outcome of the DMV hearing, there is a 30-day sit-out period when you will not be able to drive at all. During this time you will want to enroll in the eight-hour driving class which costs $250. The DMV will require proof of enrollment before they grant you a hardship license. After your 30 days you will call the DMV and set up a formal "hearing." Because Florida has so many DUI cases right now this is done over the phone. 

Preparing to Go to Court

Between getting arrested and potentially going to court, your lawyer will be doing "investigation" for your case. This is where he or she goes over your arrest looking for even the slightest mistake made by the police (the officers didn't have their breathalyzer certification up to date or the machines had glitches).

Taking a Plea or Going to Trial

Your lawyer will have a meeting with the prosecution to determine if you will plead guilty and take a deal or go to trial. Generally, the sentence you receive in exchange for the plea will be less than what you'd receive if found guilty at trial.

Stefan Campagna, Esq

Your Sarasota Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney