burglary defense attorneyNo one goes out to have a good time planning to get a DUI. And going through the experience of being detained, arrested, booked, and taken to jail must have been a miserable experience. Whether you live here locally in Okaloosa County, you’re a military member, or you were here on vacation, we help people who have been arrested for DUI.

My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I have worked right here in Okaloosa County as a DUI defense attorney. My partner, Brandy Merrifield, has worked with me since 2007. We will help you put this nightmare behind you so you can get back to your life.

We Understand What’s at Stake after a DUI Arrest

We know that a DUI can have lifelong consequences. That is why you need to fight back. Your future may depend on the decisions you make now. Our clients include military service members, contractors, vacationers, commercial truck drivers, and professionals from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what you do for a living. Every client is worth fighting for.

What will an Okaloosa County DUI attorney do for me?

Anytime a client is accused of DUI, we know there are short term and long term concerns to address. Usually, the most urgent short term issue is our client’s ability to drive. Long term, the issue is minimizing the lifelong impact a DUI conviction will have on our clients.

Step One: Preserve Your Ability to Drive.

DUIs are different from other cases. In addition to the criminal court process, there is also the administrative side with the DMV. This affects your ability to continue driving.

We work to minimize the effect of the Driver’s License Suspension stemming from a DUI arrest. You only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). If your license was otherwise valid, by requesting this hearing within 10 days, you will be given a permit that allows you to drive on a limited basis for approximately 6 weeks. This buys you time to fight the administrative suspension and gives us time to prepare for the formal hearing. When you call for your free consultation, we will discuss in detail what we will do to fight the DHSMV suspension of your license.

There is also a process called waiver of formal review that we will discuss. This process allows you to drive for the entirety of your administrative suspension. It is only available to first-time offenders. There is a fairly complicated application process for this that we will be happy to help you with, free of charge if you call Flaherty & Merrifield about your DUI case.

Step Two: Review, Strategize, and Defend.

We believe that a strong, proactive approach is always the best way to defend a DUI charge. We will carefully review all of the evidence against you and creatively look for ways to exclude or suppress evidence that is damaging to your case.

We will carefully review the basis for the police stop, field sobriety testing, breath alcohol testing or refusal, and video evidence to look for flaws or “holes” in the State’s case. Now that most Okaloosa County deputies are wearing body cameras, we are able see what law enforcement did to look for mistakes. We know where to look to find the issues that will help you get the best result.

What if I was in an accident after drinking and driving?

You can click on the links below for more information, but if you were the driver in an accident, and someone was severely injured or killed, you could be facing felony charges of DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, or DUI Manslaughter. Both of these charges require a mandatory felony conviction and prison sentence if you are convicted.

DUIs in Okaloosa County are Technical and Complex

The State Attorneys and Okaloosa County Sheriff deputies are very well-trained and dedicated to convicting those accused of drunk driving. However, remember that an accusation is just that. It is not a conviction. You need a defense attorney with the ability to understand complex technical information, as well as medical and scientific information associated with a DUI accusation. Don’t trust your criminal record, your ability to drive, or your freedom to an attorney lacking in DUI experience. Don’t sell yourself short.

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

Penalties for Florida DUI

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

A Conviction for DUI in Okaloosa County Stays on Your Record Forever

With some criminal charges, the accused is eligible to have adjudication withheld, or can have their case dismissed upon completion of a pretrial diversion program.

This is NOT the case with DUIs. If you are convicted of DUI, it is mandatory that you be adjudicated guilty which means the conviction stays on your record forever. DUI convictions in Florida are also not eligible for record expungement or record seal.

Call an Okaloosa County DUI Attorney and Get the Help You Deserve

As the chart above demonstrates, DUIs come with heavy sanctions. They are certainly punished more severely than any other misdemeanor offense. And if this current arrest is not your first DUI, mandatory jail time becomes a real possibility.

You only get one chance to fight for the best possible result. Once you have been convicted, it is too late. That is why it is imperative to try to get the best result possible. We work tirelessly to try to get cases reduced or dismissed. We know how to minimize risk to our clients while putting them in the best possible position for a successful outcome.

Contact an Okaloosa County DUI Attorney

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

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney