Everyone enjoys spending time in Destin with our beautiful beaches, Crab Island, great restaurants and bars, and shopping at the Outlet Mall and Destin Commons. And in the summer, the area is flooded with out of town visitors looking for a fun vacation.

Nothing ruins a good time faster than seeing the blue lights of a police car behind you as you drive home or back to your condo after a night out and a few drinks. If the unthinkable has happened and you were arrested for DUI, it is important to take steps right away to minimize the damage so that you can get on with your life. A Destin DUI defense lawyer with Flaherty & Merrifield can help you defend your rights.

Defending Out of Town Visitors Arrested For DUI

Being arrested in your home town is scary enough. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to be arrested in a strange city where you don’t know anyone. You are probably worried about what this DUI charge is going to do to your driver’s license in your home state. You might be wondering whether you will have to remain in Destin until your court date, or whether you will have to return to Florida later for your court date.

My name is Tim Flaherty. I’ve been defending locals, vacationers, and military members accused of DUI in Destin since 2001. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. She has worked with me since 2007. We are ready to help you, so call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470.

If I was here on vacation, will I have to come back for court?

Let me ease some of your stress right away. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor DUI, you will not have to return to Destin, Florida for your court date if you have a local DUI attorney. One of the very first things we will do for you is have you sign a legal document that excuses you from your court dates and authorizes Brandy and I to appear in court on your behalf.

The Effect of a DUI in Destin on Your Home State Driver’s License

If you are worried about whether your Destin DUI will affect your ability to drive back home, rest assured that there are steps we can take right away that will help. As long as you request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest, your driving privilege in Florida will be protected for at least another month. This will likely mean that your home state will hold off on suspending your license at least until a final decision about your case in Destin is made.

Military Members Charged with DUI in Destin

If you are in the military, you defend all of us. It would be an honor for Brandy and I to defend you. As a military member, you are facing punishment from the court system, and just as importantly, from your Command. We understand how important it is to your career in the military that your DUI case is handled correctly. We will do everything possible to either get your DUI charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.

Protecting your ability to remain in the military will be our #1 priority.

Giving You the Help You Need

A lot of times when someone comes to see us after a DUI arrest in Destin, they are extremely embarrassed and ashamed. We always try to reassure them that being arrested for DUI doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a “drunk”. Maybe you were on vacation and having a good time and things got a little out of hand. Maybe you only had a couple drinks but the officer smelled alcohol on your breath and arrested you.

Either way, we will NOT judge you. Whether we meet in person or talk over the phone, our job is to help you, not make you feel worse.

What will a DUI defense attorney do for me?

DUI cases are complex and require a lot of expertise. Over the years, we have developed methods and strategies that get positive results for our clients.

It starts with a very thorough review of all of the evidence in your case. We will carefully examine the following:

  • Police reports
  • Witness Statements
  • Dashboard video and/or body camera video
  • Field Sobriety reports
  • The officer’s justification for the traffic stop
  • Police station video
  • Intoxilyzer accuracy, maintenance, and calibration records

We know what to look for, and what to do if we find something that will be helpful to your case.

What are the penalties for a DUI in Destin?

First Offense DUI

A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor. The penalties can vary based on whether there was a breath alcohol reading over 0.15 or not.

For a first offense with a breath alcohol less than 0.15, if you are convicted of DUI in Destin, you face up to 6 months in jail, however this is very unlikely. You face 12 months probation, between $500 and $1000 in fines and court costs, a 6 to 12 month suspension of your driver’s license, community service, the completion of DUI school and a victim impact class, and an impound of your vehicle.

For a first offense with a breath alcohol 0.15 or higher, you face up to 9 months in jail, the fine is doubled, and you may be required to install an Ignition Interlock on your vehicle for 6 months.

Even if we are unsuccessful in winning your Destin DUI case, or getting it dismissed, we should at least be able to get the over 0.15 enhancements taken off and have the case treated as a first offense. That way, you save $500.00 on the court costs and you won’t have to install the ignition interlock device.

Second Offense DUI

If you have ever been convicted of DUI or any drunk driving related offense, in any state, Florida will count it against you and treat your current offense as a multi-offender. The penalties go up quite a bit for a second offense. If this current charge occurred within 5 years of your first offense, you face a mandatory minimum 10 day jail sentence, with a maximum of 9 months in jail. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 5 years for a second offense. You could also be required to pay up to $2000 in fines and court costs, and be required to install the Ignition Interlock on your vehicle for 12 months.

Third Offense DUI

A third offense DUI can be charged as a felony if it occurred within 10 years of your most recent DUI conviction. If you are convicted, you face up to 5 years in prison, with a 30 day minimum mandatory jail sentence. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 10 years, your fines and court costs will be up to $5000, and you will be required to install the Ignition Interlock for 2 years.

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.

The chart below summarizes some of the potential penalties if you are convicted of DUI in the State of Florida:

Penalties for DUI

This is a table showing DUI charges and penalties 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

Easing Your Stress after a DUI Arrest in Destin

Brandy and I approach DUI cases with a simple goal: winning the case. Either by having it dismissed by filing a Motion in court, winning at trial, or negotiating a reduced charge, we will work tirelessly to achieve the best result possible.

We know how important the outcome is to you. We will treat your case the way we would want to be treated if it was our loved one that was in trouble.

Contact a Destin DUI Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI in Destin, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney