Beating a DUI in Pinellas County requires quick and swift action, with the expert assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties, including jail time and the loss of your driver’s license.
Pinellas County sees over 400 arrests every year. These cases are taken very seriously by the court. Please call our DUI defense attorneys today for the best chance at saving your future.
What to Do If Arrested for a DUI in Pinellas County?
If you want to beat a DUI in Pinellas County you’ve already taken the first step by searching here for help.
Here’s what you need to do next:
Call a DUI Defense Lawyer As Soon As Possible
All is not lost yet, a criminal defense attorney can represent you and salvage the situation. Depending on your circumstances, that could be a total drop of the charges, a reduction in penalties, or obtaining a DUI hardship license.
Do Not Plead Guilty
Do not plead guilty or admit fault to the officers. This will forfeit your right to challenge your DUI. We advise that you make no comments until you’ve spoken to an attorney.
Do not make public statements or social media posts about your arrest, as these can be used against you.
Save Your License
After a DUI arrest in Pinellas County, your driver’s license will be suspended immediately. But you can challenge it to obtain a temporary ‘hardship license for 42 days’ (allowing you to drive for employment purposes only).
Challenges are made via a civil administrative hearing, requested by your criminal defense attorney.
To make a challenge, you have just 10 days from the date of your arrest (including weekends and holidays).
If that fails, there is also the option to appeal a license suspicion via a ‘petition for writ of certiorari’ to the Pinellas County circuit court.
Remember Everything That Happened During the Arrest
Privately, you should note everything that happened. Try to relive the events of your arrest. For example:
- What did the law enforcement officer tell you?
- What did they ask you to do?
- How were you pulled over?
- What reason was given for your traffic stop or arrest?
This information can be used to help your defense lawyer establish if any wrongdoing occurred in your arrest.
Read Related: What to Do if Stopped for a DUI in Florida?
A Quick Resolution: Pinellas County D.R.O.P Program
If you can’t directly beat a DUI in Pinellas County, you can also consider the DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program (D.R.O.P).
This program is designed to fast-track people who have made a first-time DUI mistake through the legal process. It costs $50 to make an application. It is a great option for people who know they’ve made a one-time mistake and would like to avoid the full consequences of a DUI in Pinellas County.
Rather than face jail time and penalties, you can complete the D.R.O.P program to:
- Get your charges reduced to a reckless driving charge.
- Potentially avoid being convicted of any criminal charges (if your case is a ‘Tier One’).
- Have a shorter probation period.
- Avoid receiving a court-ordered suspension of your license.
- Reduce insurance costs.
- Reduced fines.
To qualify for the Pinellas County D.R.O.P Program, you must:
- This must be your first DUI offense.
- Your BAC level was recorded as under 0.15% or;
- You refused the breathalyzer test and there was no serious crash.
Read our full guide to the Pinellas County D.R.O.P Program here.
Possible DUI Defenses in Pinellas County
We regularly see people arrested unlawfully or due to misunderstandings in Pinellas County. For example:
Unlawful or Illegal Stops
Florida law requires that law enforcement officers can only stop your vehicle if:
- They had reasonable suspicion that you committed or were committing a traffic violation.
- They had reasonable suspicion that you committed or were committing a crime.
For example, if you were driving erratically, it could suggest you were drunk driving. Or if you have expired license plates, they are allowed to pull you over.
However, if they stopped you for no reason, or due to discrimination, then the stop would be illegal.
In these cases, your criminal charges can be dropped entirely.
Unreliable Breathalyzer Results
Breathalyzers tests are the crux of any drunk driving arrest. They record your Blood Alcohol Content Level (BAC), to prove if you’re driving over the legal limit of 0.08%.
But they should only be used following strict regulations and maintenance. If the equipment was in any way damaged, incorrectly calibrated, or incorrectly used, then it can be disregarded as evidence.
For example, officers must observe you for 20 minutes before the test and give clear and correct instructions.
Questionable Breath Test Refusal
Refusing to perform a BAC test in Pinellas County is a failed test. But sometimes there can be an explanation as to why you refuse it, or the officer believed you refused it.
For example, you may have had medical issues that limited your ability to perform the test. Or, you might not have understood the instructions properly due to a language barrier.
We’ve also seen cases where the police officers simply lost patience, and noted ‘test refusal’ when the defendant never said such.
Field Sobriety Tests
Similarly, field sobriety tests can be used by officers to determine if you’re intoxicated to a point that impairs your normal faculties.
But, if you have physical impairments or pains, then they may misinterpret your normal balance for being drunk.
Other common reasons include:
- You were accused of acting drunk, when your breath test revealed you hadn’t had a drink.
- You were in your vehicle, while drunk, to protect yourself from a threat and fell asleep.
- Your Miranda rights were not read to you.
Reducing DUI Charges in Pinellas County
In some cases, throwing out the charges entirely is not possible. But reducing the charges is. For example, we recently reduced a 19-year-old’s DUI charge to a ‘Careless Driving’ Charge which comes with far less severe penalties.
Our client was accused of driving under the influence of Marijuana, after a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy smelled Marijuana and saw a pipe in the center console.
Our client performed the field sobriety exercises well, yet was arrested for a DUI and marijuana possession charge. He even provided a sample of .000 of a breathalyzer and urine sample test.
After coming to us, we worked hard to review the video and show that our client was not under the influence of drugs. The State Attorney agreed with our arguments and decided to reduce his charge to a careless driving charge. Our client avoided probation, DUI school and left without a criminal record.
We regularly help people in similar ways and welcome you to call us today.
DUI on Vacation in Pinellas County
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI while on vacation in Florida, you can still face painful consequences.
In most cases, you will have your right to appear in court waived if your DUI defense attorney enters a plea agreement, so you can file out the paperwork in your home state.
You could also lose your driving privileges in your home state and information about your drunk driving incident will be shared with law enforcement there.
If you’re from overseas, you may be barred from entering the U.S.A again, so it’s advised that you tackle the criminal offense charges fast.
Pinellas County DUI Statistics
In 2022, Pinellas County saw:
- 462 DUI arrests
- Arrests occur most often between 12 AM and 04 AM.
Crimes per day of the week in 2022:
|Number of Arrests
DUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you want to beat a DUI in Pinellas County, please contact our DUI defense lawyers. We will deploy a fast and aggressive defense strategy to get your charges reduced or dropped while appealing your license suspension or obtaining a hardship license.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300