DUI Attorneys Faithfully Serving The People of Florida
A DUI arrest is a frightening and daunting experience. You, like many of our clients, may never have been involved with the law before, much less charged with a crime. At Finebloom & Haenel, we pride ourselves in catering to your needs and easing your anxiety, by providing premier legal representation and guiding you through the complexities of your DUI case to reach a desirable result. While your case is pending, we strive to provide personalized and efficient representation, utilizing our team of lawyers and support staff to keep you updated as to your case progress, informed as to the outcome of court dates and knowledgeable as to the potential outcomes. We firmly believe that every client is an asset to our firm. Once we have spoken with you and explained the DUI process and the method of our defense, you will be confidently reassured that we are on your side, every step of the way. A DUI conviction can have long lasting effects on your life – and it is our job, our passion, to fight every element of your case to reach a desirable result
Many lawyers and Judges throughout Florida agree that a DUI charge is a very complex case. There are a myriad of issues involved, including (1) reasons for the stop of your vehicle; (2) performance (or lack thereof) of field sobriety tests; (3) breath or blood test results; (4) involuntary intoxication; and (5) wheel witness issues. Our job, as your team of lawyers, is to evaluate the facts of your particular case and determine the very best defense strategy for your case. We believe in the team approach the more sets of trained eyeballs on your case can lead to a better result. We are comprised of former prosecutors, including David Haenel, the former State of Florida DUI Prosecutor of the Year in 2004, and public defenders, which gives us a unique and unparalleled advantage to see both sides of the argument and find and exploit any loophole in the case to your advantage. Our experience, integrity in the legal community and relationship with the prosecutors and judges could make the difference on your case. We have the resources, the manpower and the aptitude to challenge your DUI charge.
Under Florida Law, a person is guilty of the offense of Driving Under the Influence if the person is (1) under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or chemical substances when affected to the extent their normal faculties are impaired OR (2) the person has a breath alcohol content over .08. ‘Chemical substances’ may include illegal substances such as marijuana, prescription medication or cocaine. Evidence of impairment of a person’s normal faculties include a slower reaction time, speeding, weaving, driving too slow, slurred speech, glassy eyes and difficulty with balance.
Penalties under Florida law for a conviction of DUI are considered to be one of the toughest in the country. Resolving the case on your own could subject you to sanctions including jail, a license suspension, probation, fines, court costs, counseling, substance abuse classes, vehicle impound and more. Our goal at Finebloom & Haenel, P.A. is to prevent you from being subjected to any of these sanctions, or at the very least, work hard to minimize them. Our opportunity to minimize the effect of these sanctions is dependant on you giving us the opportunity to represent you on your DUI charge. Once we review the facts of your case, including the police report, there may be a legal reason to suppress some or all of the evidence against you. Without evidence, the State Attorney may have a difficult time proving that you were DUI. Contact us today – our lawyers and support staff are committed to our clients and want you to get the best result possible.
Field Sobriety Exercises are typically performed after you are stopped and asked to exit your vehicle. The stopping officer wants you to perform these tests to determine whether you are impaired. As you may know, they are not easy tests and are designed for failure. The ‘standardized instructions read to you prior to performing the tests are verbal gymnastics’ to the extent they are somewhat unclear and verbose, designed to confuse you. We recognize that attempting to perform these tests for the first time at midnight with cars racing by, or trying to do them in a checkpoint scenario with people watching you, provides law enforcement with an unfair advantage.
There are three (3) standardized field sobriety tests used in the State of Florida.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (or HGN) is usually the first field sobriety exercise that is used to determine possible impairment and it consists of three components. First, the officer will use a pen or stimulus and pass it in front of your eyes to determine if your eyes jerk back and forth. Second, the officer will hold a pen out to the periphery of each eye until the whites of the eyes are showing to determine if your eyes bounce. Lastly, the officer will conduct a test trying to gauge an onset at 45 degrees. As is blatantly obvious, these tests are very subjective by the officer, and have been extensively challenged over the years because of the problems with their execution.
Walk and Turn Exercise is typically the second standardized test that is administered to determine impairment. During this exercise, you are told to stand on a white line with one leg in front of the other, touching heel to toe, while the officer reads the instructions and then demonstrates the test for you. Following the officer’s short and confusing demonstration, you will be asked to walk nine steps heel to toe down the line, then pivot, and walk nine steps back down the line touching heel to toe. During the exercise, you (1) must count out loud (2) must not use your arms for balance, (3) must touch heel to toe, and (4) must not wobble or sway. While you are performing the exercise, the officer stands of to the side, making comments or notations about the portions of the test you did WRONG the officer NEVER notes the portions you did properly. Again, this test is not easily performed, even when you are sober.
One Leg Stand is the last exercise performed. This test, similar to the walk and turn, is designed to judge your balance and your ability to follow instructions. The officer will read you the instructions and demonstrate the test for you, which requires that you stand on one leg, raise the other leg straight out in front of you approximately 6 inches off the ground, stare at your foot and count out loud until the officer tells you to stop. You are not permitted to sway, use your arms for balance or bend your leg. If you put your foot down, you must immediately raise it back up and continue counting.
In certain circumstances, the arresting officer may require you to perform additional exercises, referred to as supplemental tests. They often include the finger-to-nose or alphabet tests. It has been our experience that these are used in situations where the officer is attempting to gain ‘additional’ evidence of your impairment.
Video Evidence. In many jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies videotape DUI arrests. Through the proper procedures, we are able to acquire the videotaped surveillance of your DUI arrest and, in many circumstances, use it to your advantage. For example, the officer is not required to note the portions of the test you did properly, and there is no way to ‘hear’ your speech merely by reading a police report. On video, we can see your demeanor, hear your speech and visually observe how you performed on the exercises. Typically, the State Attorney’s Office, as well as a jury, will believe what they see on a videotape, as opposed to a police officer’s report.
After your arrest, the officer took your license and now your license is suspended. Unless your license was suspended at the time of your arrest, you are permitted to drive for 10 DAYS as long as you carry the actual DUI citation as if it was your license. Within the 10 days, you must contact our office to challenge your license suspension and acquire you a temporary driving permit. Quite simply, our goal is to keep you driving as long as possible. We know that driving to and from work, or taking your children to school, is most important to maintain your livelihood.
Once we are retained, we will immediately file all the necessary paperwork with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for you, alleviating the burden of you having to appear in person to acquire the permit. Once we acquire the permit it can be overnighted to you at a designated location so your ability to drive goes uninterrupted.
The State of Florida has minimum mandatory sentence guidelines for DUI charges. Possible sanctions include: jail time (depending on the facts), driver’s license suspension, community service, DUI school, victim impact panel, fines, community service, vehicle impound and installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Despite these sanctions being required by law, we work tirelessly and zealously advocate on your behalf to minimize these sanctions, avoid them altogether or get your case reduced to a lesser charge so some, if not all, of the sanctions are not imposed.