Get on the path to results today.
Get on the path to results today.
Call today for a free consultation: 727-210-1975
111 S Moody Ave
Tampa, FL 33609
After an arrest for Driving under the Influence (DUI), call Chris to discuss the best strategies to fight the charge.
The Law Office of Chris Beardslee makes it easy to schedule a phone or office consultation so you can speak directly with an attorney. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering clients more remote conferencing options on Zoom, but in-person consultations are available upon request.
During the consultation, we can help you understand the best ways to protect your rights at every stage of the case.
Call 727-310-1975 to schedule your free consultation.
Hire a Local and Trusted DUI Defense Attorney
Hiring an experienced attorney early in your case is crucial to protecting your privilege to drive and increasing your chances of avoiding a conviction.
At the Law Office of Chris Beardslee, Chris takes a full-service approach to defending each aspect of the case including:
Chris represents men and women arrested for drunk and impaired driving in Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Polk County.
The Legal Definition – Two Alternative Ways of Proving DUI
The statute provides for two different theories that the prosecutor might use in an attempt to prove that you are guilty.
First, the prosecutor can attempt to show that you were under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating substance to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired due to alcohol intoxication or drug impairment.
Alternatively, the prosecutor can attempt to show that your performance on a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test showed a blood-alcohol level of .08% or above. Regardless of the theory, the potential penalties are the same.
Enhanced penalties apply if the prosecutor proves that your breath test reading was over .15. Those enhanced penalties might include the dreaded ignition interlock device and a higher fine.
The DUI penalties are more serious if the case involved property damage or a child passenger being in the vehicle.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving (“DUI”), including a breath test, urine test or blood test case, a refusal case, or crash with property damage, then call Chris to discuss the case today
When is a DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
Florida law classifies the vast majority of cases in Florida for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as a misdemeanor. A DUI cannot be filed as a felony unless the defendant:
The penalties for a DUI conviction become enhanced if the prosecutor proves any of the following aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt:
Refusal to Submit to the Breath Test
When the State of Florida attempts to prosecute a Driving Under the Influence case, the strongest evidence is usually the results of a chemical test, including a breath test, blood test, or urine test.
The prosecutor will argue that the criminal test shows intoxication or impairment because of the presence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or a controlled substance.
If the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test (called a “DUI Refusal BAC” in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL), then the State no longer has that evidence.
Instead, the prosecutor will attempt to admit evidence that the driver “refused” to submit to the test and other circumstantial evidence.
The prosecutor will argue that this refusal demonstrates a “guilty conscience” or the driver’s belief that if he submitted to the chemical test, the test results would show that he was intoxicated from alcohol or impaired by prescription drugs or other controlled substances.
In determining whether to admit or exclude the evidence that the driver refused to submit to the test the Court will consider state and federal constitutional provisions, the rules of evidence, common law provisions, statutory rules, and administrative rules.
Furthermore, if the law enforcement officer violates a driver’s constitutional or statutory rights to an attorney before the blood, breath or urine test, then the Court can exclude or throw out any evidence that the defendant declined to take the chemical test.
Many refusal cases are difficult for the prosecutor to take to trial because the prosecutor’s most important piece of evidence, the test result, does not exist. If you have been charged with DUI refusal in or around Hillsborough County, then talk with an experienced attorney before you decide how to proceed with your case.
If you have previously had your driver license suspended for refusing to submit to a chemical test, then the consequences for a second or subsequent refusal after a DUI will probably be an additional criminal charge for a first-degree misdemeanor.
In July of 2002, the Florida Legislature criminalized a second refusal to breath, blood, or urine test. This means that if you refused to take a breath test a second time, you might find yourself charged with two separate offenses, DUI and a “second refusal to submit to DUI testing” charge.
Even if you win the DUI case, you might be convicted of the refusal charge. The appellate courts have yet to fully address the constitutionality and limitations of this new criminal offense for a “second refusal to submit.”
Defenses exist to fight this separate charge of refusing to submit to a chemical test for the second time. Contact attorney Chris Beardslee to discuss defenses that may be available under Florida law for the particular facts and circumstances of your case.
Why DUI Cases in Florida are so Serious
For a DUI and BUI charge under § 316.193(9) and 327.35(8), Fla. Stat., the defendant is not permitted to bond out of jail until:
Although a first DUI is a misdemeanor, a conviction comes with minimum mandatory penalties that are typically more severe than most third-degree felonies.
The trials tend to be more complicated than many second-degree felony charges because of the nature of the scientific evidence, including field sobriety testing and chemical testing of the breath, blood or urine.
Additionally, DUI cases are subject to extreme jury prejudice due to “media blitz” publicity and the pressures from citizen action groups such as Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
DUI trials are complicated because many of the prospective jurors are nondrinkers, reformed alcoholics, or have religious reasons not to drink alcohol.
Under Rule 6.290 of the Florida Rules of Traffic Court and section 316.656, Florida Statutes, no court shall suspend, defer, or withhold adjudication of guilt or the imposition of sentence for the offense of driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle (DUI) while:
Since the court cannot withhold adjudication, the person convicted of DUI can never seal the criminal record.
For all of these reasons, you need a local DUI defense attorney focused on fighting these unique types of cases. Call Chris for a free consultation so that you can find out more about his qualifications for DUI defense in Tampa, FL.
Fighting Administrative Suspension of Your Driver’s License
The first stage in a DUI case is protecting your privileges to drive. After the arrest, the officer will take your driver’s license and issue you a notice of suspension if:
Your DUI citation operates as the notice of suspension. The officer will send the notice to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DMV).
The citation itself operates as a 10-day permit so you can continue to drive during the first ten (10) days after your arrest. During that ten (10) day period after the arrest, you must decide between the following options:
Call Chris to find out why he ALWAYS recommend demanding the formal review hearing within that ten (10) day period.
Because you must decide how to protect your driving privileges and take action quickly, it is essential to retain a criminal defense attorney during this ten (10) day period after your arrest.
Reasons the Administrative Suspension is Invalidated
Florida law requires that the hearing officer SHALL invalidate the suspension if the arresting officer or the breath test operator fails to appear. Other reasons the hearing officer might invalidate the suspension might include:
Even if all the witnesses appear at the hearing, your attorney can raise other objections. Your attorney can move to invalidate the suspension because of a lack of competent and substantial evidence.
If you win the hearing, then your administrative suspension will be invalidated (vacated or set aside). Having the suspension invalidated means the administrative suspension is removed from your driving record as if it never happened.
If you win the hearing, we will give you a copy of the order. If you take the order to the DHSMV, then you can obtain a duplicate copy of your driver’s license. If the hearing officer refuses to invalidate the suspension, you can appeal that decision to a Circuit Court judge through a petition for a “writ of certiorari.”
The only downside to contesting the administrative suspension is that if you are not successful, then a hard suspension will start. During that time, you cannot drive for any reason.
At the end of the hard suspension, as long as you have enrolled in DUI school and are otherwise eligible, you can obtain a “Business Purpose Only” license for the rest of the suspension period so that you can drive to and from work, school, and church.
Even if the suspension is not invalidated, the client still wins because the attorney has gathered evidence and testimony that might lead to a better result in the criminal case.
Contact Chris Beardslee, to learn more about fighting the administrative suspension.
Length of the Administrative Suspension
The length of the administrative suspension is listed below. The “hard period” is the period during which you are not eligible for a hardship license.
First DUI Offense
Second DUI Offense
Third or Subsequent DUI Offense
Fighting Criminal Charges in the Courtroom
After your arrest, the clerk’s office will schedule your first court date called the “arraignment” in front of the judge. For individuals that do not have an attorney, the court will read the charges and ask the person to enter a plea – either guilty, no contest or not guilty.
For DUI offenses, the court is not allowed to withhold adjudication. A guilty plea is essentially the same as a “no contest” plea. A conviction means you can never seal or expunge that mug shot, arrest record, or court record of the conviction.
Entering a plea at arraignment is a bad idea because you cannot obtain a hardship license until after you have completed DUI school.
If you cannot afford a private attorney, then you should request the services of a public defender.
You can say, “I’d like to enter a plea of “NOT GUILTY” and have an attorney help me with my case.”
Trying to resolve your case without a criminal defense attorney is not a good idea. Before entering a plea, at a minimum, you should review all of the police reports and watch the video at the roadside or at the police station.
You should always talk with a DUI lawyer about the evidence in your case before considering a plea to the charges. Prosecutors often reduce DUI to less serious charges such as reckless driving.
Your criminal defense attorney can always fight for a one or two-level (or more) reduction depending on the facts of the case.
For a first DUI, contact Chris to find out more about the DUI Diversion Program in Hillsborough County called RIDR. The new diversion program might result in your first DUI being reduced to reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication.
The withhold of adjudication means you can avoid a conviction. After resolving the case, you might be eligible to seal the criminal history record. Each level the charges are reduced can save you thousands of dollars and indirect consequences that would otherwise occur.
By entering the plea as charged without any reduction, you may be taking the most disruptive, expensive, and prolonged route to resolving your case.
How Your Attorney Fights the Criminal Charges
If you retain a private attorney, the attorney will waive your appearance at arraignment and enter a not guilty plea on your behalf.
The Law Office of Chris Beardslee will also file motions to do the following:
After the arraignment, another court date will be scheduled each month after that (called the “disposition”). In most cases, your attorney can waive your appearance at these court dates.
During these initial court dates, your attorney will secure a copy of all evidence in your case. Your attorney may also file additional motions to suppress or exclude that evidence.
After the exchange of discovery, the court schedules the case for a motion hearing, pre-trial conference, or trial. The court will require you to appear at these critical court dates..