If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Tampa, you might think that you have no choice but to accept a plea deal and move forward with your life. What you might not realize is that you may be able to get out of a DUI – even if you blew above the legal limit on a breathalyzer.
There are a number of ways to beat a DUI in Tampa. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to argue that the breath test itself was flawed, that you were stopped illegally, or even that the results of your field sobriety tests should be excluded. The most important thing is that you don’t simply plead guilty without first knowing your rights and options for fighting back against a DUI charge.
Based in Tampa, The Sulte Law Firm represents clients in a range of traffic and criminal law matters, including DUI cases. We work hard to make sure that our clients get the best possible outcome, whether that means a favorable plea deal, a dismissal or reduction of the charges, or a not guilty verdict at trial. Give our office a call to schedule a free consultation about your Tampa DUI case.
How Can I Beat a Tampa DUI Charge?
DUI cases often seem straightforward. After all, in many DUI cases, the prosecutor has what may seem like objective evidence that you were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in violation of Florida law. This evidence may include testimony from witnesses about how much you drank, results from a chemical breath or blood test, or even video of you failing field sobriety tests.
Yet even if this evidence exists, you may still be able to get out of a DUI. The police are required to follow certain procedures and comply with the law when investigating crimes, including DUI. If they fail to do so, then your Tampa DUI lawyer may be able to have the case dismissed or the charges reduced.
Possible Defense #1: Flawed Breath Test
Most DUI cases involve the results of a chemical breath test taken after an arrest. These breath tests measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) based on the level of alcohol in their breath.
While many people assume that DUI breath tests provide accurate results, the reality is that it is all too easy for these machines to return unreliable results. This may be due to factors such as:
- Medical conditions that may produce mouth alcohol, such as diabetes;
- Being on certain medications;
- Failure to calibrate the machine properly;
- Being on a low carb diet; and
- Failure to administer the test properly.
These are just some of the ways that you may be able to beat a DUI based on faulty breath test results. Your lawyer may be able to make an argument based on the facts of your case to have the results of a breath test excluded from your DUI case.
Possible Defense #2: Illegal Stop
When the police pull you over, they are conducting a “seizure” for Constitutional purposes. For this seizure to be legal, they must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime or violation of the motor vehicle code has occurred. This detention must be temporary, lasting no longer than the law enforcement officer needs to either confirm or dispel that suspicion. If a DUI stop does not follow these rules, then your Tampa DUI attorney may have the entire stop suppressed, which means that the evidence cannot be used against you in court.
DUI checkpoints are an exception to the requirement that police have reasonable suspicion before detaining you. However, police must still follow the rules for DUI checkpoints. If they fail to do so, then evidence from the stop may be suppressed.
Possible Defense #3: Illegal Search
As with seizures (stops), the police must have a legal basis for conducting a search. In some cases, the police may search a motorist or their vehicle without cause to do so. There are strict rules about when the police can and cannot conduct a search of a person or their property. If they violate these rules, then your Tampa DUI attorney may be able to have any evidence seized suppressed.
Possible Defense #4: Coerced Field Sobriety Test
In Florida, you are not required to take field sobriety tests after being stopped for a DUI. Unfortunately, police officers rarely make this fact clear. Instead, they often strongly imply that you don’t have a choice but to comply with their instructions to walk on a line, follow their fingers, or do a one-leg stand.
If the police ask you to do a field sobriety test, then you should politely decline. If you do perform the tests because you thought you didn’t have a choice, then your Tampa DUI lawyer may be able to argue that any evidence of these tests should be thrown out because they were involuntary or coerced.
Possible Defense #5: Hearsay Evidence
In Florida courts, hearsay evidence is generally not permitted (with some limited exceptions). Hearsay evidence is a statement that was made outside of court that is presented in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted. At its core, hearsay evidence is secondhand information that is considered unreliable.
For example, if a patron at the bar you were at testifies that the bartender told them you had 8 drinks, that would be hearsay. If the bartender testifies that you had 8 drinks, or if the patron actually witnessed you drinking those 8 beverages, then it would not be considered hearsay.
If the state tries to introduce hearsay evidence to show that you were drunk, then your Tampa DUI lawyer can object. They can also work to limit the introduction of this type of evidence in the first place – protecting your rights.
How a Tampa DUI Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with a DUI in Tampa, then your best chance of beating those charges comes from hiring a lawyer who practices in Tampa. They will know the local rules, the judges, police officers, and prosecutors. This gives you a higher likelihood of beating a DUI.
Based on their experience with Tampa DUIs, your attorney can advocate with the police and prosecutor for a reduction or dismissal in charges. In these types of cases, relationships matter. Having an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer can often make the difference and help you get out of a DUI.
Facing a DUI in Tampa? Reach Out Today.
Florida has incredibly harsh penalties for DUIs, including jail time, steep fines, and the loss of your license for a first-time offense. If you have been charged with a DUI in Tampa, you need a skilled attorney who can help you fight back against these charges.
At the Sulte Law Firm, our practice is dedicated to helping people who have been charged with all types of crimes, from assault and battery to domestic violence to DUI. We aggressively advocate for each of our clients, using our experience and knowledge to get the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Tampa DUI lawyer, give our law office a call at 813-223-4343 or fill out our online contact form.