Defending DUI in Tampa, Florida

Our DUI defense attorneys are both former prosecutors who have handled thousands of cases. We have the experience necessary to defend your case.

Tampa DUI Attorneys

Put Former Prosecutors in Your Corner

Getting arrested for a DUI can ruin someone’s work prospects, render them unable to get an education, and limit a person’s options for months, even years. Pleading guilty without consulting an attorney only makes life easier for the prosecutor; for you, it may make life worse.

You deserve to have a skilled attorney after a DUI charge. At Thomas & Paulk, our Tampa DUI lawyers have handled 7,000+ criminal cases throughout our legal careers. Backed by more than two decades of experience, we are heavyweights in the courtroom. As proven advocates, you can trust us to protect your rights as we fight of reduced charges, dismissal of your case, or complete acquittal. Whatever path is best for your future, we’ll make sure to give you the strongest possible chance of success.

Call Us After Being Arrested for Drinking & Driving in Tampa

At Thomas & Paulk, our team consists of DUI defense lawyers who have helped protect the rights of individuals throughout the Tampa area and all of Florida. No matter whether you have been arrested after "failing" a breath test or if you are looking to challenge the field sobriety test, you can be confident knowing we have the experience necessary to protect you.

By reaching out to our Tampa DUI law firm, you can work with a firm that:

  • Has handled 7,000+ criminal cases
  • Is available 24/7
  • Offers free and confidential consultations
  • Has extensive trial experience

If you or someone you love are facing serious criminal charges, you don’t have a moment to lose!

What Happens When You Get a DUI

A DUI conviction under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes is a criminal offense. Meaning, if you’re convicted, you will have a criminal record, which in itself leads to a host of consequences. If you’re considering pleading guilty to DUI or forgoing legal representation, we want you to know all the facts.

The following is how a DUI conviction can impact your life for many years to come:

  • Immigration: Generally, a first DUI will not lead to removal proceedings for a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder); however, a drug-related DUI or a felony DUI can lead to deportation.
  • Travelling Abroad: While a DUI should not affect a U.S. citizen’s ability to obtain a U.S. passport, other countries may not let the person into their country with a recent DUI conviction.
  • Employment Opportunities: Like most states, Florida is an at-will-employment state, which means an employer can fire an employee for any reason with the exception of discrimination. An employer is within their legal right to terminate an employee if he or she is arrested for DUI.
  • Professional Licenses: A criminal conviction can affect one’s ability to obtain a professional license.
  • Higher Education: A criminal conviction, including one for a DUI can affect one’s ability to gain entrance into certain colleges. Most colleges have similar policies regarding records.

What You Need to Know About a Florida DUI

Our law firm has compiled a list of the top things that you need to know about a Florida DUI. If you have further questions, contact our firm for help!

  • You can get a DUI with a BAL under 0.08%.
    Under Section 316.193(a), a person can also get a DUI if they drive under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drugs and their normal faculties are impaired.
  • You can get a DUI without driving.
    Under Section 316.193(2), you can get a DUI if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a chemical substance and you are under “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Meaning, if you’re in actual physical control of a vehicle but not driving under the influence, you can still get a DUI.

  • If you refuse a chemical test, your license will be suspended.
    Once you receive a Florida license, you agree to consent to a chemical test when a police officer asks you to take one. If you are asked to take a chemical test during a DUI stop and you refuse, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended, even if you had nothing to drink.

  • Most first DUIs are misdemeanors.
    Usually, a first or second DUI is a misdemeanor. However, even a first DUI can be a felony if it involves a hit-and-run, severe property damage, or if someone else suffers serious injuries or death.

  • Many people do not qualify for a public defender.
    Not everyone qualifies for a public defender. You have to meet the state’s eligibility requirements, which means you must have very low income and assets. In Florida, there is a presumption that an applicant is not indigent if he or she owns, or has equity in any intangible or tangible real estate or personal property with a net equity value of $2,500 or more, with certain exclusions.

  • A DUI conviction could impact your child custody case.
    Can a DUI have an impact on a child custody case? Yes, absolutely, especially if it’s a drug-related DUI, or a second or subsequent offense. Family law judges have broad discretion in child custody cases. If it’s very close, a recent DUI can tip the scales in the other parent’s favor.

  • A DUI can damage your credit.
    If you have to rely on credit cards to pay your fines, the costs of an Ignition Interlock Device, DUI school fees, and so on, the hefty credit card balances could affect your credit utilization ratio, and your FICO score. Additionally, if you fail to pay a court-ordered fine, it could go to collections.

What to Expect If Convicted of DUI in Tampa

A person who has been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Florida will face a variety of legal consequences. DUI charges may be accompanied with the following consequences:

First-time offenders should know their case may qualify for the Hillsborough County Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) initiative. Under RIDR, a person charged with a first DUI may be able to lower their charges. However, you should talk to a DUI attorney before making a final decision.

Why Hiring a High-Quality DUI Lawyer Is Important

There are a variety of ways to challenge DUI charges; however, to have a successful outcome, you will need the help of an attorney. When you are looking for a qualified attorney, the single most important things you can do is to take your time to do research. Don’t just accept an attorney at face value. Every lawyer out there is trying to get your business, but you also need to ensure that the attorney you choose will put your interest’s first and has the qualifications to deliver the best possible results.

Some questions to ask an attorney during an interview:

  • How many years of actual legal experience do you have?
  • How many DUI cases have you handled before? Can you give examples?
  • Briefly, can you explain how you would handle my case?
  • How will I be involved during the proceedings?
  • What will you do to keep me informed and involved?
  • What will our fee arrangement be? How much can I expect to pay?

The Cost of a Tampa DUI Attorney

One of the main concerns for DUI offenders is how much it will cost them to hire a lawyer. Most people recognize the benefits of having experienced legal representation on their side, but some people chose to find a lawyer who offers the “lowest-price” in hopes to save money. Unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is that while they might save a little money at first, they are risking the outcome of their case. There’s a saying around courthouses: “There’s nothing more expensive than a cheap lawyer.”

Being convicted of a DUI is not a cheap ordeal. Not taking into consideration penalties like jail time, it is important to recognize just how much it could cost you to be convicted. Take for example simple fees. DUI can result in penalties that start at $500 to $5,000. Under Florida Statutes §316.193 (2012), fines depend on a variety of factors, including your BAC when pulled over, as well as any prior convictions.

Other DUI Costs Aside from Fines

Most people think fines are the only financial impact a DUI will have, but this is only the starting point. Other costs includes to get a car back after it has been impounded. Depending on how long the car was there, it can cost $200 or more. If the car has been immobilized between 10 to 30 days, it will cost $10 a day; therefore, if you had a car immobilized for 30 days, it could cost $300.

Another cost that has financial impacts is mandatory installation of the ignition interlock device (IID). For those with prior convictions or those with high BAC, the court may require an IID. This can cost $200 for the installation alone and $75 a month for regular maintenance and calibration.

As the IID can be required anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. DUI charges can also greatly affect the cost of insurance. For 3 years after a conviction, you will need to get FR-44 insurance with increased coverage; this will have the requirements of maximum coverage. In most cases, insurance with full coverage will cost two or even three times the cost of the pre-DUI policy.

None of this takes into account the cost of traveling to court, lost work time, and the opportunity cost of having your time and energy taken up by court. Combined with fines, losing a DUI case or pleading guilty is often far more expensive than the cost of a good attorney.

Work with Our Florida DUI Defense Attorneys

If you have been arrested, we encourage you to get the involvement of our legal team to learn how we can fight for you. Our attorneys have both handled over 7,000 criminal cases, providing them with an in-depth understanding of criminal law rooted in experience. Beyond this, both attorneys bring over two decades of combined experience. We are well-known for our experience in this area of the law. We are tough advocates for the rights of our clients and will go above and beyond in our efforts to help them seek the best future that they deserve. Read through our case results to see the countless victories that we have obtained over the years. If you would like to meet with our firm to discuss your case, just contact us today by calling or taking advantage of our online case evaluation form.

Contact our Tampa DUI lawyers for a free case review: (813) 321-7323!

Building an Effective DUI Defense Strategy

If you've been arrested, you may think that there is no hope for your case. However, there are various factors that a skilled attorney can leverage as they fight for reduced charges, acquittal, or dismissal of your case.

Some of these factors include:

  • Being unlawfully stopped by law enforcement
  • Being arrested without the officer establishing probable cause
  • An improperly administered field sobriety, blood, or breath test
  • Officers incorrectly administering a forced blood draw

These issues may disqualify the evidence against you. With the help of expert witnesses and a skillful cross-examination, your attorney may be able to show the judge and jury that the evidence against you is inadmissible or does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

After a person has been charged with or arrested for DUI, it is imperative that they consult a skilled attorney. A Tampa DUI defense lawyer can get involved from the onset of the legal process and provide insight and direction as the person's case progresses. Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with judges and prosecutors to have the person's criminal charges reduced—or, in some cases, dismissed entirely.

Take the first step! Call our DUI law firm today to schedule your free case review.

Our Videos

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Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.

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Our Victories

  • All Charges Dropped DUI
  • All Charges Dropped DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving Second DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI, BAC Over 0.15
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI
  • No Criminal Conviction DUI and Obstructing or Opposing an Officer
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving Second DUI
  • All Charges Dropped DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI

DUI Defense in Florida

At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.

The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.
  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.
  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.
  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.