Drunk driving is a serious crime that puts the safety of everyone on the road at risk. Due to the # of alcohol related crashes and deaths, police, prosecutors, and Judges are under a lot of pressure to come down hard on DUI offenders. In this environment, it is very important to have advocates on your side who will fight for your best interest.
Whether you are a local Crestview resident, a military member, or a traveler passing through on I-10, if you have been accused of drunk driving, we can help you.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I have been defending clients accused of DUI in Crestview and throughout Okaloosa County. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. We take our responsibility to our clients very seriously. Our #1 goal in your case will be to avoid a DUI conviction. Whether that means the case gets dismissed, pled down to a lesser charge, or taken to trial, we will explore every option available.
Usually, clients who are accused of DUI are embarrassed when they come to see us. Regardless of what you are accused of, we operate on the philosophy that every client is worth fighting for. We will not judge you. Our job is to help you feel better and more confident about where you stand, not worse. Contact our Crestview DUI defense lawyers at (850) 398-8098 for a free consultation.
What can a Crestview DUI attorney do to help me?
DUI cases are technical and complex. There are evidentiary and scientific issues that require a lot of expertise to understand. We have developed a system to review DUI cases that targets the issues that get results for our clients.
We will start by reviewing the police reports, witness statements, body camera video evidence, and Intoxilyzer room video. We will also carefully review the accuracy, usage, and maintenance records for the Intoxilyzer 8000 if a breath result was obtained in your case.
We will look at the case from start to finish, from the time the police officer got behind you, to the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, to the administration of field sobriety tests, all the way through your arrest and subsequent breath test, if you provided one.
Rest assured that we will leave no stone unturned.
What penalties am I facing for a DUI in Crestview?
This is a table showing DUI Charges and Laws in Florida
|Charged Offense||Potential Jail/Prison||Potential Probation||Driver’s License Suspension||Fines||Ignition Interlock Device||Vehicle Impound|
|1st Offense||Up to 6 months||Up to 12 months||6-12 months||$500-$1000||N/A||10 days|
|1st Offense, BAC >1.5||Up to 9 months||Up to 12 months||6-12 months||$1000-$2000||Min. 6 months||10 days|
|2nd Offense||Up to 9 months||Up to 12 months||6-12 months||$1000-$2000||Min. 12 months||10-30 days|
|2nd Offense, within 5 years of prior DUI||Up to 9 months, 10 days min. mandatory||Up to 12 months||Min. 5 years||$1000-$2000||Min. 12 months||30 days|
|3rd Offense||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||6-12 months||$2000-$5000||2 years||30 days|
|3rd Offense, within 10 years of prior DUI||Felony Conviction – 5 years, 30 days min. mandatory||Up to 5 years||Min. 10 years||$2000-$5000||2 years||30 days|
|4th Offense||Felony Conviction – 5 years||5 years||Permanent||$2000-$5000||N/A||30 days|
The main factor that will influence what penalties you face is whether this is a first offense, or if you have ever had another DUI or drunk driving related offense anywhere, at any time in your life.
Any DUI conviction beyond your third will automatically be charged as a felony, with up to 5 years in prison and a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license.
What are some additional issues with Crestview DUI Cases?
Every DUI case is different, but certain topics come up in every case. Those include DMV issues, Breath Test or Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test, and Field Sobriety Tests.
The DMV 10 day Rule
After a DUI arrest, you only have 10 days to request a hearing with the Bureau of Administrative Review or else your driver’s license will be administratively suspended. The length of the suspension from the DMV is based on whether you gave a breath test or whether you refused.
If you gave a breath test that was over the legal limit of 0.08, the DMV will seek to suspend your driving privilege for 6 months. If you refused to give a breath test, the administrative suspension is 12 months for a first refusal, or 18 months if you have ever refused in the past.
As long as you request a Formal Review Hearing within 10 days, we can secure a temporary driving permit that will allow you to keep driving on a limited basis while your case is litigated. If the DMV upholds the suspension, you will lose your ability to drive for at least 30 days and possibly up to 90 days.
If you want to avoid this 30-90 day period of no driving, another option is to file a Waiver of Formal Review. When a Waiver is filed, you lose your right to “fight” the DMV suspension, but in return, you are given a hardship driving permit that will allow you to drive for the entire term of your suspension.
When we meet to talk about your case, we will explain the Formal Review as well as the Waiver of Formal Review options so that you can make an informed decision.
DUI With a Breath Test
DUI cases with a breath test over the limit are tougher to win but that doesn’t mean they are hopeless. We still review every piece of evidence to look for any problems with the case that we can exploit to your benefit.
The Crestview Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff utilize the Intoxilyzer 8000 for their breath tests. While the Intoxilyzer 8000 is generally considered reliable, there are still ways to attack its reliability and accuracy. We will subpoena the accuracy, usage, and maintenance logs from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to ensure that the machine used in your case was operating within compliance. If not, we will file a motion in court to throw out the breath test result.
Field Sobriety Tests
In most DUI cases, the police officer requests that the driver exit his vehicle on the side of the road and perform a series of tests known as Field Sobriety Tests. By the time this has happened, the officer has usually decided that he thinks you are under the influence and is just “padding his file” by asking you to take tests that are designed to make you look intoxicated.
Unlike a breath test, which carries a penalty if you refuse, Field Sobriety Tests are not mandatory. You have an absolute right to refuse to perform these tests. This is something that police officers will not usually tell you. They will make you feel as though you don’t have a choice.
If you have already been arrested for DUI in Crestview, and you performed Field Sobriety Tests, Brandy and I will carefully review the video evidence and the reports to see if we can make an argument that the police unlawfully compelled you to take the Tests. If so, we will file a motion in court to exclude the Tests.
DUI with Refusal
State Attorneys like DUIs with a breath/blood/urine test showing the driver was over the legal limit. In most cases, it is easier for them to make their burden of proof if there is scientific evidence that “quantifies” someone’s impairment level.
It is much harder for prosecutors to prove DUI cases where the driver refused to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample. In those situations, they don’t have tangible proof of someone’s level of impairment so they are forced to prove their case with less certain factors such as odor of alcohol, driving pattern, and field sobriety tests.
It is far easier to convince a prosecutor to offer you a reduced charge of Reckless Driving if you refused to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample.
Either way, whether you gave a sample or not, Brandy and I will build a customized defense that fits the facts and circumstances of your DUI case.
Easing your stress after a DUI arrest in Crestview
When we are entrusted with your defense, our #1 goal will be to win your case. If we are not able to win the case, we will do everything possible to minimize the penalties or get the charge reduced to a lesser offense. Either way, we will not just take the first plea offer made by the state. We will keep working for the best result possible.
When you are ready to put a professional Crestview DUI attorney to work for you, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 398-8098.