Facing drunk driving charges is a confusing and traumatic time. In addition to defending Jacksonville clients in the courtroom, Bill Roelke keeps his clients informed and answers questions they have. Here are a very common questions that people facing DUI charges might have.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT JACKSONVILLE DRUNK DRIVING CHARGES
- Is a DUI really that big of a deal?
- What happens if I lose my license?
- If I failed a DUI test, do I still have a case?
- What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
- I refused a DUI test. Is my case over?
- Will a DUI stay on my record?
Yes, it is. Drunk driving may be the most common offense in Duval County, but that doesn’t mean the consequences are not severe.
You could face very serious fines, restrictions on your ability to drive, and, in some circumstances, time in jail. You’ll also have to contend with a permanent criminal record and heightened insurance premiums.
This may be your first DUI charge, and you may not intend to get another. However, it’s very unlikely you intended to be charged with this one. Do whatever you can to keep this off your record. A lawyer can help.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I LOSE MY LICENSE?
If you fail a DUI test or refuse one, you have 10 days to request a hearing from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you decline to do so, your license will be suspended for a certain time.
During that time, you will be unable to legally drive. If pulled over, you may face misdemeanor charges of Driving With a Suspended License, which is a separate offense with its own penalties. If convicted of DWLS for a third time or of Driving While License Permanently Revoked, you will face charges of a third degree felony.
If facing your first DUI, you may be able to obtain a hardship license after completing DUI school. If it is your second DUI, you must wait at least a year before being able to obtain a hardship license.
IF I FAILED A DUI TEST, DO I STILL HAVE A CASE?
Yes. An attorney can still put together a strong defense if you took and failed a breath test, blood test, urine test or field sobriety test.
Each test has flaws. An FST may not have been conducted properly. A chemical test could have been made with equipment that was not properly cleaned or calibrated. There are also inherent flaws in all the different tests.
Additionally, there are issues with procedure that may be used as a defense. To make a traffic stop, police must have sufficient reasonable suspicion — an articulable set of facts that would objectively suggest there is criminal activity afoot. Police cannot pull you over on a hunch. If they did not have sufficient reasonable suspicion to make a stop, the entire arrest may be thrown out.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DUI AND DWI?
In Florida, the crime of driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance is called Driving Under the Influence, or DUI. In other states, the same offense may be called Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI) or something different.
I REFUSED A DUI TEST. IS MY CASE OVER?
No. For one thing, test refusal triggers an administrative license suspension. You have 10 days to request a formal hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles. At the hearing, your lawyer can argue why the stop may have not been justified and why your license should not be suspended.
While refusal to take a test denies prosecutors of critical evidence, it does not mean they will not pursue charges. Police could testify that you had slurred speech, an unsteady gait and/or smelled of alcohol. Your attorney can cross-examine the officers and show all reasonable doubt in the case against you.
WILL A DUI STAY ON MY RECORD?
If you are convicted of or plead guilty to driving under the influence, you will not be able to seal or expunge the conviction. It will remain permanently on both your criminal record and your driving record.
If your lawyer is able to obtain some sort of deferred adjudication, if the charges are dropped or you are acquitted, you may seal and/or expunge the records as long as certain requirements are met. Roelke Law can help you with that process, even if we did not represent you on the initial DUI charge.