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Experienced Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Shares Insights on Navigating a Non-Resident DUI Arrest

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with significant consequences. If you are visiting Florida and receive an arrest, the consequences will follow you. Understanding the implications of a DUI arrest as a non-resident is crucial, as is seeking legal counsel before you leave the state – ideally immediately following your arrest.

Knowing who to call for legal advice can be hard when you’re charged with a crime away from your home state. The experienced DUI attorneys at Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense are here to help. We work diligently to defend clients charged with DUI in Florida, including those who live out of state.

Navigating the Florida DUI Legal Process

If you're arrested for DUI in Florida as a non-resident, you'll be subject to the same legal process as residents. This includes being taken into custody, undergoing booking procedures, and potentially spending time in jail until bail is posted or a court appearance is scheduled.

Finding legal representation is one of the first steps you should take after a DUI arrest in Florida. A skilled DUI defense attorney with experience in Florida law can guide you through the process, explain your rights, and help you navigate the legal system.

It's essential to find an attorney who understands the nuances of Florida DUI laws and has a track record of successfully representing non-resident clients. The Flaherty & Merrifield team has this experience.

Overview of Florida DUI Penalties for Non-Resident DUIs

If you are convicted of DUI in Florida, you may face significant penalties under Florida law, just as would be the case with a Florida resident. The court will consider any previous DUI arrests you have in other states when determining your sentence, as well as relevant facts presented about the circumstances of your arrest and your plea. Florida DUI penalties include:

  • License Suspension. Following a DUI arrest in Florida, your driver's license may be suspended. As a non-resident, having your license suspended can pose significant challenges, especially if you rely on driving to get around during your stay in Florida. Working with a knowledgeable attorney can help you understand your options for challenging the suspension and seeking a hardship license that allows limited driving privileges.
  • Court Appearances. As a non-resident facing DUI charges in Florida, you may still be required to appear in court. Your attorney may be able to appear on your behalf for certain proceedings, but your presence in court may sometimes be required, particularly for critical stages of the legal process, such as your arraignment and trial. Your attorney can advise you when your presence is necessary so you can plan accordingly.
  • Fines and Jail Time. In Florida, DUI fines range from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5000. Imprisonment is possible with any Florida DUI. Certain DUI charges require mandatory jail time and can result in a lengthy jail sentence of up to five years. Your Florida attorney knows the nuances of fines and jail time in relation to DUI charges and will work to minimize your sentence as much as possible.  
  • Mandatory Participation in Alcohol Education. Judges often require those convicted of DUI to participate in drug and/or alcohol classes as a consequence of their actions. A Florida lawyer may be able to help get approval for you to complete these classes in your home state rather than having to travel back to Florida.
  • Required Substance Abuse Treatment. If your sentence requires you to complete a substance abuse treatment program, your lawyer may be able to utilize Florida’s reciprocity with other states to help make it possible for you to complete this aspect of your sentence in your home state.
  • Community Service. Community service is a common penalty for a DUI misdemeanor. With the help of a local lawyer, a non-resident charged with DUI in Florida may be able to get permission to complete their community service hours in their state of residence.
  • Ignition Interlock Device. In many cases, individuals convicted of DUI in Florida are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles. This device measures the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) with a breathalyzer and prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. Your attorney can help you understand how to navigate Florida IID obligations when your vehicle is registered in another state.

Why You Should Promptly Secure In-State Legal Counsel

When facing DUI charges in Florida as a non-resident, it's essential to act quickly and decisively. It is in your best interest to engage a Florida DUI defense lawyer before you leave the state – ideally as soon as you are arrested. Your Florida attorney will be able to help you with your defense throughout the entire process, both while you are in the state and after you return home.  

Seeking legal counsel from an experienced Florida DUI defense attorney without delay is crucial to protecting your rights and minimizing the potential consequences. Your Florida DUI lawyer knows the state’s law and legal system and can explore all available options for defending you against the charges while working towards achieving the best possible outcome for your case, which may include seeking a charge dismissal or lesser offense and working diligently to minimize the consequences of a conviction.

When you choose Flaherty & Merrifield to represent you, you will enlist the services of Florida defense attorneys with a track record of success in DUI cases. We will review evidence relevant to your case, examine medical documents, file all appropriate court motions, and negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce consequences as much as possible. We will also negotiate and appear in court for you when doing so is possible and in your best interest in order to minimize the amount of time you have to spend in Florida during the legal process related to your DUI charge.

Protect Your Rights After a Non-Resident Florida DUI Arrest

Navigating a DUI arrest as a non-resident in Florida can be daunting, but with the right legal representation, you can protect your rights. By understanding the legal process, seeking experienced legal counsel, and taking proactive steps to address the situation, you can work toward resolving your DUI case with minimal impact on your future.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
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