Fort Myers DUI Lawyer

Driving under the influence is a unique crime because many people arrested for drunk driving don’t have criminal intent. That is to say that they accidentally over-imbibe and then decide to drive. Unfortunately, the reality is that you can be arrested for DUI after just a few drinks. If this happens to you, your best chance at beating your charges is to hire a Fort Myers DUI attorney to handle your case. 

Patrick McClain is a Fort Myers DUI lawyer with an unparalleled track record for beating drunk driving cases. After reviewing the details of your case, attorney McClain can develop an ironclad defense tailored to your specific situation. Call today for diligent DUI defense.

What Is a DUI?

Under Florida Statute 316.193, DUI is when an individual who is driving or in active control of a vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. The statute goes on to identify the blood alcohol concentration limits. Like all other states and the District of Columbia, the BAC limit is .08. 

Photo of DUI

What Qualifies as a Misdemeanor DUI?

Most first and second DUIs are misdemeanors. However, if you were involved in an accident with injuries or you have prior convictions, your case could be elevated to a felony. The penalties for a first DUI conviction are $500 – $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, license suspension, and mandatory participation in a substance abuse course. For a second conviction, the fines are $1,000 – $2,000, and up to nine months in jail. Probation is a possibility in lieu of jail time for either case.

Arrested person standing by a police car

What Qualifies as a Felony DUI?

The law identifies several situations that may constitute Felony DUI. If you’ve had two prior convictions for DUI in the past ten years, your third arrest is classified as a third-degree felony. Furthermore, if you’ve been in an accident that causes serious bodily injury to another, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. If you caused an accident that resulted in the death of another or an unborn child, the DUI is classified as a felony. Failing to stop after a DUI accident also elevates the DUI charge to a felony. The punishments for felony DUIs can range from up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony up to 30 years for a first-degree felony. 

As a criminal defense attorney in Fort Myers, FL, attorney Patrick McLain can help you understand your penalty exposure. Even in extreme cases where the evidence against his clients is compelling, attorney McLain has garnered wins or negotiated with the assistant state attorney to reduce charges and penalties. 

What Tests are Used to Prove a DUI?

Most people are familiar with a few of the basic field sobriety exercises that law enforcement uses to determine whether or not an individual is intoxicated. However, the process that police officers must use to prove a DUI is far more complicated. Here are the steps of a DUI arrest, including the various tests that police officers in Fort Myers, FL, and other parts of the state utilize. 

1. Probable Cause

The police must have a legal reason to stop you. If not, DUI lawyers can use the invalid stop to get the entire case thrown out. Here are some valid reasons for a stop:

  • The officer witnessed a traffic violation. 
  • The defendant’s vehicle had faulty equipment.
  • The defendant was stopped at a sanctioned DUI checkpoint. 
  • The officer witnessed a driving pattern consistent with drunk driving. 
  • The officer received a tip from a witness. 
  • The vehicle was involved in a crash. 
  • The driver or vehicle is similar to one that had been involved in a crime. 

As your criminal defense attorney, Patrick McLain will scrutinize the probable cause for your stop. If it’s invalid, he will file a motion to suppress it immediately. 

DUI Statistics Infographic

Source: madd.org

2. Physical Observations 

Officers cannot just investigate every driver for DUI. Consequently, they must articulate what it was about the driver that made them suspect that they were intoxicated. Some physical indicators of drunk driving include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Red, puffy skin
  • Sweating
  • An odor of an alcoholic beverage
  • Unsteady stance
  • Slurred speech
  • Fumbling movements

3. Field Sobriety Exercises

If the officers believe that you’re intoxicated, they will ask you to perform field sobriety exercises. This is a relatively difficult set of tests, but they are voluntary. It’s important to note that most people do not perform well on these tests, even when sober. Additionally, the police will video record your performance for the courtroom presentation. For these reasons, most DUI lawyers would prefer that their clients did not agree to participate in this phase of the investigation. 

In Florida, the three main tests are as follows:

  • Walk and Turn – The driver takes nine heel-to-toe steps, turns 180 degrees, and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back. 
  • One-Leg Stand – The driver raises either foot, extends it in front of them, and counts out loud from 1001 to 1030. 
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – The driver is asked to follow a moving point with their eyes. Intoxicated individuals’ eyes begin to involuntarily flutter at the periphery. 

Officers are supposed to inform you that the tests are voluntary and demonstrate the tests before asking the driver to participate. 

4. Arrest

The officer must make a decision whether or not to place you under arrest. If you don’t participate in roadside exercises, they can still arrest you based on their observations. However, they will not have the evidence from the tests. 

5. Implied Consent

As a motorist operating a vehicle on Florida roadways, you have already agreed to supply a breath or urine sample or both upon request. An officer will read you a reminder from a prepared text. If you refuse to participate, your license will be automatically suspended for one year for a first refusal and 18 months for a second refusal. 

However, if you do provide the breath test and you’re above .08, your license will automatically be suspended for six months for a first DUI. Again, this is a situation where DUI attorneys would probably prefer for their clients to decline, understanding that license suspension for some period of time is likely. 

6. Breathalyzer

If you consent to a breath test, the police will transport you to a location where there’s a breath test machine. They will observe you for 20 minutes before administering the test. If you try to fool the machine by not blowing into it, they will consider it to be a refusal. If your BAC is below .08, they will request a urine sample to check for other substances. 

Photo of Drunk Driver

Defenses Against DUI Convictions in Fort Myers

There are many battle-tested defenses that DUI attorneys in Fort Myers, FL, use to beat charges. Here are some of the things a seasoned criminal defense attorney like Patrick McLain will use to defend his clients:

  • The Stop – Did the officer have a legal reason to stop you?
  • Roadside Exercises – Were you told the tests were voluntary? Did the officer demonstrate the exercises before asking you to perform them? Were the tests conducted on a clean, well-lit surface?
  • Implied Consent Challenge – Did the officer read the implied consent warning, or did they make it seem like you had no choice in the matter.
  • BAC Results – Was the breathalyzer calibrated? When was the machine last serviced? Did the operator have a valid certification? 

There are many details that law enforcement must get right for a DUI conviction, and Fort Myers DUI attorney Patrick McLain only needs to identify one misstep to cause their whole case to unravel.

Gavel with a beverage and car keys next to it

Why Choose Patrick McLain Law?

Patrick McLain is a seasoned criminal defense attorney with years of experience defending DUI clients. After reviewing your case, DUI attorney McLain will consider all courses of action. He will then present to you your best legal options. Contact a Fort Myers criminal defense attorney to fight for your legal rights today!.