Protect your rights with Flaherty Defense Firm
I don’t care what you’re accused of doing. You are a human being and you deserve to have someone in your corner who will fight for you. I will not judge you; I’ll defend you. - Tim Flaherty

If you’ve been charged with a crime, call (850) 243-6097 to get a FREE consultation.

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What happens if I get caught driving after a DUI suspension in Okaloosa County?

If you were convicted of a DUI in Okaloosa County, or anywhere in Florida, your driving privileges were most likely suspended for at least 6 months, up to a lifetime revocation.

If you are caught driving while serving a DUI suspension, you will be charged with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR), in violation of Florida Statute 322.34.

Here is an overview of the penalties according to the statute:

  • First Offense:  second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
  • Second Offense:  first degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1000.00 fine.
  • Third Offense:  third degree felony with a potential 5-year prison sentence and a $5000.00 fine. The judges in Okaloosa County routinely hand down 1-year jail sentences for this charge.

Are DUI suspensions treated any differently in Okaloosa County?

Yes they are.  In most other DWLSR cases, you would not face a jail sentence for a first or second offense. However, if you are caught driving on a DUI suspension in Okaloosa County, you will likely face a minimum of 10 days in jail for a first offense, and far longer for a second or subsequent offense.

Call an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Lawyer

I have been practicing criminal defense in Okaloosa County since 2001. I have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to secure the best possible results for my clients. My #1 priority if you were caught driving on a DUI suspension will be to keep you out of jail.

Call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 and I’d be glad to discuss your case with you and explain exactly how I would defend you. The consultation is free, so call us today.

 


DUI Reduced in Fort Walton Beach for Military Member

LW was a military member who was charged with DUI in Fort Walton Beach. Due to his high profile status, he was told by his unit that if he was convicted of DUI, his career in the military would likely be over.

On the surface, it looked like LW had a weak case. He had agreed to take the breath test and the result was over 3 times the legal limit. He had also not done well on the field sobriety tests.

I subpoenaed the video evidence from the officer’s dashboard camera and found a few things to work with. I also reviewed all of the maintenance records for the Intoxilyzer 8000 that was used in the case. In short, I carefully reviewed and examined every piece of evidence in the case.

Even though the high breath alcohol reading worried me, I set the case for jury trial in Fort Walton Beach. Right before the trial, the Prosecutor approached me and asked if my client would consider a plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving.

LW gladly accepted the plea offer after being assured by his military command that it wouldn’t affect his military career since the plea was to a non-alcohol related charge.

If you entrust Flaherty Defense Firm with your defense, I will put 110% of my effort into saving your career. I will put my knowledge, expertise, and reputation to work for you.

If you have been charged with DUI in Fort Walton Beach and you’re in the military, give me a call today at (850) 243-6097 and see what I can do for you. The consultation is free.


Can I be charged with Felony DUI in Destin if I have priors?

The short answer to the question above is yes. However, an effective Destin DUI lawyer should know how to block the State in some cases from using your prior DUI conviction to enhance your current charge to a felony.

Being charged with DUI in Destin is scary enough. But if the State is claiming that you have 2 prior convictions, either in Florida or another state, you are facing the possibility of being charged with Felony DUI, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. And because DUIs in Florida require an adjudication of guilt if you’re convicted, you will be a convicted felon.

It is very important that your DUI attorney knows how to challenge this issue and protect you from the worst case scenario. You may be shocked to learn that a lot of local DUI lawyers in Destin do not know about this issue and they do not raise it to protect their clients.

How do I know this? Because I see it in court time and time again. Unfortunately, the client usually doesn’t even know that prior convictions can be challenged so they are forced to take whatever the judge gives them. In my opinion, this is legal malpractice.

When I see this, the question that goes through my mind is: why even hire an attorney if they aren’t going to explore every option and stay current on the law in order to help their clients?

How can DUI priors be challenged?

Before the State can introduce prior convictions to charge someone with a felony DUI in Destin or anywhere in Florida, they must prove that the defendant had an attorney for those prior cases, or that the defendant waived his or her right to counsel in those older cases. Davis v. State, 710 So.2d 116 (2nd DCA 1998), Kirby v. State, 765 So.2d 723 (1st DCA 1999), Riggins v. State, 789 So.2d 509 (1st DCA 2001).

If the defendant did not have counsel, the prior conviction cannot be used if the defendant had the right to an attorney. In order to raise this issue, you must state under oath that:

  • The prior offense carried a possible jail sentence of at least 6 months
  • You were indigent and qualified for the public defender
  • The court did not appoint an attorney for you
  • You did not waive your right to counsel

If all the above factors apply, the State is required to prove that you either had counsel during the older cases, or that you waived your right to counsel on the record. Angel v. State, 769 So.2d 494 (4th DCA 2000).

If the State is not able to prove those factors, I can file a motion in court along with an affidavit seeking to have your DUI case filed as a misdemeanour instead of a felony. This makes a big difference in what level of penalty and long-term consequences you will face.

If you have been charged with DUI in Destin and you are worried about your prior record, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 today.


Getting a Destin DUI Charge Reduced or Dismissed

If you have been charged with a DUI in Destin, you probably have a lot of questions. One of them might be whether there is any way to get the DUI charge knocked down to Reckless Driving, or dismissed altogether. If so, you are not alone. It’s one of the most common questions that clients ask me.

We know you’re worried about the possible consequences if you are convicted of DUI – about how it will affect your ability to drive, and what impact it will have on your career. If you’re in the military, you already know how devastating a DUI conviction can be.

At Flaherty Defense Firm, my #1 responsibility is to fight for the very best possible result for every client, in every case. How does this apply to DUI cases? In every DUI case I defend in Destin, I try to get the charge either reduced or dismissed.

Here are a few steps I take in all of my DUI cases:

Investigate The Traffic Stop

I will look for factual and legal issues that could support the basis for a Motion To Suppress Evidence. I will investigate whether the officer had a sufficient basis to stop your vehicle. I will also examine whether the officer had enough evidence to detain you and hold you for field sobriety testing. In order to do this, I will need to carefully review the police reports, witness statements, and any video evidence that may exist.

Attack The Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are an area of controversy because they are so subjective. Essentially, it is up to the officer to decide whether you “passed” or not. Obviously, that is open to interpretation, especially in a situation where the person making the decision is biased against you.

Challenge The Breath Test

For a lot of so-called “DUI Experts” in Destin, if their client “blew” over the limit, it’s game over. They simply accept the evidence at face value and plead their clients guilty. Needless to say, that is not how I operate here at Flaherty Defense Firm.

Challenging Intoxilyzer 8000 results is by far the most technical part of defending a DUI case. Understanding how breath alcohol is measured, and how the Intoxilyzer operates, gives us the ability to look for flaws or problems with this evidence. If these flaws are serious enough, it could possibly lead to the breath alcohol results being suppressed.

How Do I Pick The Right DUI Attorney In Destin?

At Flaherty Defense Firm, I have been practicing DUI and criminal defense exclusively since 2001. I know the Judges and the Prosecutors and I can offer you specific advice about how that affects your case.

If getting the best possible result is important to you, you need a DUI defense lawyer that you feel comfortable with. You need an attorney who will develop and execute an effective strategy to obtain the best result possible.

I would be glad to talk with you about your case, so if you’d like to see what a professional Destin DUI attorney can do for you, call Flaherty Defense Firm 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (850) 243-6097.


Destin Felony DUI With Serious Bodily Injury Reduced To Misdemeanor

Drunk driving cases are treated harshly in Destin, and when someone gets seriously hurt as the result of a DUI accident, the penalties can be devastating.

AB hired me to defend him. He was charged with DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. The allegations against him involved a drunk driving accident that resulted in his friend and passenger sustaining serious injuries.

Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, AB’s charge was a 3rd degree felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. Making things more difficult, under the Sentencing Guidelines, his minimum sentence was 51 months in prison after accounting for the severity of the victim’s injuries.

The police did a good job investigating this case. After reviewing all of the discovery material in the case, it did not appear that there were any legal problems with how the police conducted their investigation. The testing of AB’s blood alcohol level indicated that he was well over the legal limit at the time of the accident, and the testing and analysis of AB’s blood was done properly.

When AB first met with me, he told me that his current public defender was telling him that the best they could do for him was to just accept the 51 months in prison. They were not willing to look at any other alternatives.

I promised AB that I would not just roll over; that I would look at every possible option before accepting the prison sentence. I started researching the issue of serious bodily injury and what level of proof the State needed in order to establish it. I found something to work with in the case law, and prepared a Motion to Dismiss. Going into the hearing on the motion, I felt like we had maybe a 50/50 chance of winning.

On the day of the hearing, the prosecutor approached me and asked if my client would accept a plea to misdemeanor DUI with no jail time. I discussed this with AB and he gladly accepted the offer. He was able to plea to a misdemeanor and avoid a prison sentence and a felony conviction on his record.

If you are being charged with a felony DUI in Destin, don’t just accept the first plea offer. And if you aren’t happy with your public defender, feel free to give me a call. I’d be glad to help.

Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.


Destin DUI Reduced To Reckless Driving

DUI cases in Destin are complex. There is a long checklist of potential legal issues that I look at in every DUI case in order to effectively defend my clients. Sometimes, I focus on the traffic stop. Other times, it might be the Field Sobriety Tests. In this case, I focused on the urine testing that my client was subjected to.

D.O. was charged with DUI in Destin, Florida. The police pulled him over because they claimed he was weaving all over the road. They didn’t smell alcohol, but they still made him do Field Sobriety Tests. He felt like he did well on the tests, but he was arrested anyway and charged with DUI.

After he was arrested, the police told him to provide a sample of his urine to be tested for the presence of alcohol or controlled substances. Because he wanted to cooperate, D.O. consented to the urine test. The results came back indicating the presence of several controlled substances.

There are numerous problems with the way the Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyzes and interprets urine samples. Based on some of those problems, I filed a Motion to Suppress seeking to have the results kept out of evidence.

The Motion to Suppress was set for a hearing. After reviewing my Motion, the prosecutor offered a plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving.

These decisions are tough because on one hand, I felt like we had a very good chance of winning the Motion to Suppress. On the other hand, there was other evidence in the case that was not favorable, including his driving pattern. I knew that even if I was successful in the Motion, it was not a sure thing I would win the case at trial.

I met with my client and explained the pros and cons of each option. I told him that it was his decision either way. In the end, he decided to take the sure thing and accepted the plea to the reduced charge.

If I didn’t have the reputation that I have with the local prosecutors and Judges, my client would not have been given the option of a reduced charge. That reputation secured a result that made my client very happy.

If you have been charged with DUI in Destin, I understand that you need help. Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097.


DUI Checkpoints In Okaloosa County.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints or roadblocks are legal as long as certain guidelines are followed carefully. The Supreme Court also ruled that individual states can decide for themselves whether roadblocks will be legal in their particular state.

Florida is one state that has decided that checkpoints are legal as long as the guidelines are followed.

What are the DUI Roadblock Guidelines?

  1. Before setting up a checkpoint, the police must put all the guidelines in writing.
  2. The police must make public in advance the date, time, and location of the proposed roadblock.
  3. Drivers must be given access to a place to turn around as they approach the checkpoint.
  4. Police must decide in advance the random method of choosing which vehicles to stop. An example would be every 3rd vehicle.
  5. They are not allowed to discriminate based on the appearance of the driver or the vehicle.
  6. They must limit the amount of time a driver is detained.
  7. They must post signs and lights at the site of the roadblock.

So if I turn around, the police can’t stop me?

Yes and no. While the police cannot pull you over solely for avoiding the roadblock, if they can identify another, separate reason to pull you over, that is legal.

At DUI checkpoints in Okaloosa County, the police will normally have “chase cars” on site. Their job is to go after people who avoid the checkpoint and they will be looking for any possible traffic violation to justify a traffic stop.

How do I protect myself at a DUI Checkpoint?

If you are planning to go out drinking anywhere in Okaloosa County, the best advice is don’t drink and drive. If you drive impaired and you hurt or kill someone, you will have years in prison to think about what you did. Protect yourself and everyone else on the road by choosing a designated driver ahead of time or calling a cab.

Aside from that, if you approach a DUI checkpoint, watch your speed, make sure your seatbelt is buckled, and that your driver’s license/registration/proof of insurance are all easily accessible.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Okaloosa County, your best chance at avoiding a conviction is to retain the best DUI attorney you can find. I invite you to call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097. We are available 24/7.


Can I Get Jail Time For A DUI In Fort Walton Beach?

No matter what you’ve been arrested for in Fort Walton Beach, you are probably scared about the possibility of going to jail. Maybe you had to spend a night in jail when you were arrested and you’re terrified about having to go back.

I decided to write this blog about jail sentences in DUI cases because it’s a question I get a lot when I meet with DUI clients.

Obviously, every case is different, but what follows is an overview of First, Second, and Third DUI cases in Fort Walton Beach, and when jail time is a realistic possibility.

First Offense DUIs

Some unethical attorneys will try to scare you into hiring them by telling you that you are facing a jail sentence for a first offense DUI in Fort Walton Beach. The truth is, in 99.9% of first offense DUI cases, you will not be sentenced to jail if you enter a plea without going to trial. There are a lot of good reasons to hire an attorney for a first offense DUI, but avoiding jail time is usually not one of them.

In Florida, the maximum jail sentence you could receive for a first offense DUI is 6 months, but as I said, this is very unlikely.

One question that I get a lot is whether a DUI or drunk driving charge in another state can be used a prior offense. The answer is YES. If you were ever convicted of a drunk driving charge in any state, no matter how long ago it was, the State of Florida will count that as a previous conviction.

Second Offense DUIs

If the arrest date of your current DUI was within 5 years of the conviction date of your prior DUI, you are facing a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days. If your prior conviction was more than 5 years ago, there is no mandatory jail sentence, but the potential maximum sentence is 1 year in jail.

Third Offense DUIs

This is where things start to get very serious. If your 3rd DUI occurred within 10 years of your last one, the prosecutor can file this DUI as a 3rd Degree Felony with a potential 5 year prison sentence. Regardless of whether the case gets filed in misdemeanor or felony court, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail.

What Can You Do To Help Me?

As an attorney who only practices DUI and Criminal Defense, my most important duty is to do everything possible to keep my clients out of jail. It’s a responsibility I lose sleep over because my client and their family is looking to me to preserve their freedom.

I can’t promise what the eventual outcome will be in your case, but I will promise you this: If you entrust me with your defense, I will do everything possible to win your case and keep you out of jail.

If you are worried about whether you are going to jail after a DUI arrest in Fort Walton Beach, I welcome your call, so call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. You’ll be able to get your questions answered and have some peace of mind about where you stand.

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10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

Call (850) 243-6097 for your free consultation.