A DUI is a serious crime that carries potentially life-altering consequences. Aside from court-imposed penalties, a DUI can affect your work, your ability to drive, your school, and any professional license you may have.
An experienced Jupiter DUI lawyer will fight for your rights and can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. The criminal defense attorneys at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh have handled countless DUIs and can help you today.
JUPITER IS WHERE WE WORK AND LIVE
The town of Jupiter is known for its relaxed feel, waterway access, pristine beaches, and iconic lighthouse. Jupiter’s appeal caused it to lead Palm Beach County in population growth in 2018, with more people wanting to live there.
Jupiter has a lot to do and attracts a lot of visitors. But they are also heavily congested with traffic and highly scrutinized by the police for DUIs. Understandably, the police want to keep the Jupiter community safe.
However, it can become very difficult to differentiate between the person who had two drinks and the person that had too many drinks.
Alcohol affects everybody differently, and the officer’s initial observation when he asks for driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance is the odor of alcohol. The officer immediately has confirmation bias and believes the driver is drunk.
This is why we often hear clients tell us that they believed they performed well on the field sobriety exercises when a DUI arrest is made when.
In these situations, a Jupiter DUI lawyer in Jupiter can effectively handle your case by exemplifying the flaws in your case. When you have this much at stake, do not hesitate to get a lawyer involved. There are few firms that have our combined knowledge and experience when it comes to a DUI case.
Our firm, Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, is based out of Jupiter.
We have intimate knowledge of the local community and the Jupiter DUI arrest process. We have three former prosecutors that have handled thousands of DUI cases and had numerous DUI trials. Our experience and legal advocacy on DUI cases is second to none. When your liberty is on the line, you cannot afford to not hire a lawyer for your drunk driving case. Call now for a free consultation and case evaluation.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DUI?
A DUI is a very severe crime in the state of Florida. Florida Statutes 316.193 require that if a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of DUI at trial, there is a mandatory conviction.
Meaning a DUI will permanently be on your record, and it can never be sealed or expunged, even if that person has a clean record.
As if the stigma of a DUI on a record is not enough, a first DUI is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. The penalties for a DUI can also include a driver’s license revocation for a minimum of six months, twelve months of probation, community service hours, immobilizing your car, completing DUI school and any recommended treatment, attending a Victim Impact Panel course, an ignition interlock and no possession or consumption of drugs or alcohol.
There are DUI enhancement factors that can increase jail time, fine amounts, and other penalties. These enhancement factors include prior DUIs (2nd DUI, 3rd DUIs, and 4th or more DUIs), high breath alcohol readings, accidents resulting from the DUI, and the presence of children in any of the vehicles involved. An attorney in Jupiter could explain the penalties possible in a DUI case.
WHAT CAN A DUI LAWYER DO TO HELP YOUR CASE?
There are numerous legal issues with DUI crimes that are inapplicable to other crimes. An experienced lawyer in Jupiter looks for certain legal issues and additional factual defenses that you may have in your DUI case.
When a lawyer discovers legal issues in your case, they can file a motion to suppress to exclude evidence. This can give you an advantage at trial because the state has less evidence, or it can provide you with leverage with plea negotiations.
In some cases, prevailing on a motion to suppress will result in the entire case being dropped. DUI cases are extremely technical and nuanced. As such, there can be several motions to suppress in your case.
Some examples of issues for a motion to suppress are as follows:
What was the reason for the initial traffic stop? Did the officer have an ulterior motive or was the stop pretextual? There may be an illegal stop. If the initial stop is illegal, then all of the evidence in the case will be thrown out.
Did the officer read you your Miranda rights on the side of the road? If Miranda was required to be read on the side of the road, then answers to a police officer’s questions may be thrown out.
Did the police officer advise you what would happen if you refused the field sobriety tests? Your refusal to perform the field sobriety exercises may be thrown out if so.
Did the police officer improperly say something to get you to perform the field sobriety exercises? If so, your performance on the field sobriety tests or any video of it will be thrown out.
Did the police officer read you implied consent if you refused to blow? Your refusal to give a breath sample may be thrown out if the officer did not read you implied consent.
Did the police officer improperly say something to get you to blow? If so, then your breath alcohol ready will be thrown out and cannot be used against you.
A motion to suppress can turn a difficult case into a winnable case at a trial. The best DUI lawyers know when and how to file a motion to suppress to achieve the best possible outcome on your case.
HOW LONG WILL A DUI CASE LAST?
Each case is different, but most DUI cases last between six months and one year.
CAN A PERSON BE ARRESTED FOR DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS?
It is a common thought that a DUI is always alcohol-related, but a DUI may also be drug-related.
If a person is arrested for a drug-related DUI, then the officer will ask for a urine or blood test. A breath test only tests for alcohol content, but urine or blood tests look for drugs. These tests look for illegal drugs as well as legally prescribed medications.
A person may be arrested and charged with a DUI in Jupiter even if they only took their prescribed medication. The blood and urine tests do not have a specific legal or illegal limit for drugs like the 0.08 limit for alcohol.
This makes it all the more imperative to hire an experienced DUI lawyer.
A DUI LAWYER CAN HELP YOU BEFORE YOU EVEN GO TO COURT
If you or a loved one was just arrested for a DUI, hiring a Jupiter lawyer can help you in ways you probably do not even know about.
If you were arrested for DUI, you will be provided an arraignment following your release from jail. The arraignment date is about thirty (30) days after the date of arrest.
At the arraignment, the formal charges will be read, and a plea of not guilty is entered by the attorney. The arraignment is not the time or place where a trial occurs. The officer will not be present at the arraignment. This proceeding is more of a formality than a substantive proceeding.
Because of this, a lawyer can waive the arraignment and enter a written plea of not guilty on behalf of the client. Additionally, the lawyer may waive their client’s presence for future court dates. This will save the client from taking off work for court dates that are not substantively important in the case.
DOES THE JUPITER POLICE DEPARTMENT DO DUI CHECKPOINTS OR SATURATION PATROLS?
Yes. The Jupiter Police Department periodically sets up DUI checkpoints to net DUI arrests.
They last set up a DUI operation in conjunction with the Tequesta Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
This last joint operation resulted in five (5) DUI arrests and sixty-five (65) traffic stops.
They also set up DUI checkpoints during holidays, like New Year’s Eve and Christmas.
WHAT IF YOU PASSED THE FIELD SOBRIETY EXERCISES?
Before a person is arrested for DUI, the officer will generally ask the individual to perform a series of sobriety exercises.
Contrary to popular belief, these sobriety exercises are not tests. They are not pass or fail, and they are not graded. An officer is not even allowed to refer to them as tests in a courtroom or proclaim that a person failed them.
Typically, an officer will describe in general detail that an individual performed poorly on the field sobriety exercises. As the name states, these exercises are supposed to help the officer determine whether a person is sober and should be driving.
However, the exercises are subjective in nature.
No objective criteria requires an office to make an arrest if one performs the exercises poorly.
The general exercises include the pen light task (also known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus task), the walk and turn task, the one-leg stand task, the finger-to-nose task, and the Romberg alphabet task. Since all of these tasks are subjective, a person may perform well on the exercises, but the officer may disagree and still decide to make an arrest for DUI.
These exercises may or may not be captured on camera. Not all police departments have body-worn cameras, and not all police department patrol cars have in-car dash cameras. It is not a requirement that the exercises be recorded on video.
If the exercises are not recorded on video, then the testimony of the officer becomes a crucial piece of the case in determining whether a person is guilty of DUI. The officer must be skillfully cross-examined on what he did and did not do and on the observations he made and did not make. A successful cross-examination of the arresting officer by an attorney in a Jupiter DUI case can be the difference between a person being convicted or acquitted.
SHOULD YOU BLOW INTO THE BREATH TEST?
The police do not ask for a person to blow a breath sample until after the individual has been arrested for a DUI. Oddly enough, even if a person blows a breath alcohol level under the legal limit of 0.08, they will not be “un-arrested” or released from jail. The person will remain in jail for at least the next eight (8) hours.
It is also important to consider that if a person blows a breath alcohol level over 0.15, the individual will be subjected to enhanced penalties for DUI. If a person has previously refused to provide a breath sample and they refuse a second breath sample, they may be charged with a crime for continuing to decline the breath sample.
WHAT IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR DUI?
The process is slightly different if you are arrested in Jupiter. After an arrest in Jupiter, you will be transported to the Palm Beach County Jail on Gun Club Road, which is in West Palm Beach.
This is the same for all DUI arrests throughout Palm Beach County, regardless of whether it is a first DUI, second DUI, third DUI, or fourth DUI or more.
Where a DUI arrest in Jupiter differs from other arrests is that the first court date, the arraignment, occurs in the North Branch Palm Beach County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, located on PGA Blvd. The case will remain in this satellite courthouse branch unless the lawyer demands for a jury trial.
Jury trials do not take place in the North Branch. Only trials decided by a judge, referred to as bench trials, occur in the North Branch. Jury trials only take place for Palm Beach County cases in West Palm Beach in the main courthouse located on Dixie Hwy.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR CAR AFTER A DUI ARREST?
It depends. If your car is properly parked in a safe location that is private, for example, you pulled into your friend’s driveway when you were stopped, then your car can remain there. If your car is parked in a public place, for example, on the side of the roadway, then your car will be towed and impounded. You will be able to retrieve the car from the impound lot after paying the storage fee and providing proper identification. If you have a courteous officer, sometimes they will allow a friend or family member to come pick up the car so that it is not towed and impounded.
Where Will My Car Be Towed After a DUI?
There are about four to five tow companies in Jupiter. Your car will be transported to a different impound lot depending on which tow company tows your car. You should be provided with tow paperwork that tells you which company towed your company. If you cannot locate this paperwork, you can find out which company towed your car by calling the Jupiter Police Department’s non-emergency number.
HOW LONG WILL YOU BE IN CUSTODY IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR A JUPITER DUI?
As discussed above, after a DUI arrest in Jupiter, they will be transported to West Palm Beach to the county jail. As long as there are no other charges, then you will be released on your own recognizance after eight (8) hours. This eight (8) period will not begin until after the transport from Jupiter to the Palm Beach County jail. The waiting period is not exact either. Depending on how busy the jail is, it could be slightly longer.
LICENSE SUSPENsion FOR A DUI?
Your license may be suspended for a DUI arrest in Jupiter. There are two different types of driver’s license suspensions associated with a DUI: a criminal court suspension and a DMV (administrative) suspension.
Can You Get a Hardship License for a DUI?
You may be eligible for a hardship license depending on the type of suspension and whether this is a first DUI, second DUI, third DUI, or fourth DUI or more.
If you are arrested for a DUI in Jupiter, you will only be able to obtain a hardship license from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) office at either the Lauderdale Lakes or in Fort Pierce locations.
Where Do You Go for a Hardship License?
The Lauderdale Lakes office for DHSMV is 3718-3 W. Oakland Park Blvd, Lauderdale Lakes, and can be reached at (954)677-5800.
The Fort Pierce office for DHSMV is 1901 South 25th Street, Suite 201, Fort Pierce, and can be reached at (772) 468-4050.
HIRing A DUI LAWYER FOR YOUR CASE
You can read a lot online about DUIs, DUI law, and the process. We encourage clients to educate themselves so that they can make an informed decision. However, there is an old saying that the person that represents themselves has a fool for a client. We cannot stress enough that you should not go at it alone and try to handle your DUI case on your own.
Every DUI case is unique and has its own facts and issues. Spotting, isolating, and exploiting these issues is a skill that takes years of school, training, and experience to hone.
Should You Hire a DUI Lawyer if You Just Want To Accept a Plea?
You may want to accept a plea bargain and not fight your case.
But a plea may not be the right choice for your case.
It is the role of your attorney to advise you of the best possible outcome based on your input and the DUI lawyer’s experience.
Even if you want to accept a plea bargain, your attorney may be able to negotiate better by fighting your case.
What Do You Look for When Hiring a DUI Lawyer?
First, find out if the lawyer practices criminal law regularly.
A DUI is a technical crime with a tremendous number of nuances. You want a Jupiter attorney that regularly handles DUI cases so they can properly advise you regarding driver’s license issues and criminal court issues.
Additionally, you want your lawyer to know the prosecutors who may be handling the case and the judge who will be presiding over the case.
Second, find out how many DUI cases and trials the lawyer has had.
A successful DUI defense lawyer will have handled too many cases and trials to count.
How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?
It depends. The cost of a DUI lawyer can vary as there are some lawyers that are more expensive than others.
It will also depend on how you are charged.
For instance, a third DUI will be more expensive than a first DUI offense. Additionally, some cases are more complex than others.
A lawyer will not know the details and circumstances of your case until they speak with you and review the police reports.
We would recommend that you sit down with a lawyer to go over the details of your case so they can give you a better idea of the costs.
WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE A JUPITER DUI ATTORNEY FROM KELLER, MELCHIORRE & WALSH
We have three former prosecutors who have handled thousands of DUI cases and have had numerous DUI trials. One Jupiter DUI lawyer at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, is a former supervisor of all DUI prosecutions in Palm Beach County. Our experience handling DUI cases is second to none.
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we are not a volume firm. We do not take on every potential case that calls into the firm. Each attorney has a set caseload that we do not allow to get too large by design. We do not believe in the one-size-fits-all approach. We handle each client and case individually. This gives our clients the best representation, which results in the best outcome for the client.
Our communication with our clients is of the utmost importance. We have an online client portal so that we can regularly communicate with our clients. One of the biggest complaints that a client has with a lawyer is the lack of communication. While it is true that lawyers can get very busy, at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we have made it a priority to have an open line of communication with our clients, and our online client portal furthers this goal.