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A DUI is one of the most destructive charges a person can face, but it is one of the most common causes of arrest in Florida. DUI is unique because many people charged with this crime are first-time offenders who did not recognize that their actions constituted a criminal offense. In Florida, you can receive a DUI even if you are not driving the vehicle, a charge called “actual physical control.” An officer can arrest you if your “normal faculties” are impaired even sitting in a car in your own driveway.
A simple DUI carries enhanced penalties that distinguish this offense from other misdemeanors. Penalties may include jail time, probation, heavy fines, driver’s license suspension, ignition interlock, substance abuse classes, and other sanctions.
DUI law in Florida is “enhanceable,” meaning the charge becomes progressively more serious. If you have had a DUI in the past or someone is injured or killed because of your charge, you may face felony DUI charges. A felony DUI can seriously impact the rest of your life. You need the services of a skilled DUI defense attorney.
There are many defenses to the charge of Driving Under the Influence. If you have been arrested for DUI, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced Orlando DUI lawyer immediately. Call Panella Law Firm now to discuss your case.
Attorney Michael Panella believes every defendant deserves justice and a fair trial. He is committed to protecting your rights and that every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. He served as an Assistant Public Defender with the 18th Judicial Circuit and successfully defended hundreds of cases in Brevard and Seminole Counties.
He founded Panella Law Firm to bring his expertise and zealous advocacy to the residents of Orlando and Central Florida. He is not afraid of taking on prosecutors in the courtroom to get his clients the justice they deserve.
The attorneys at Panella Law Firm can help you fight legal battles in a wide range of criminal matters, including drug possession, criminal appeals, expungement and record sealing, self-defense, and juvenile defense. We also handle victims’ rights and family law matters.
Panella Law Firm is your best choice if you’re looking for a skilled DUI attorney in Orlando who can use the law to defend your freedom. Call us at 407-233-1822 for a free initial consultation about your case.
Being arrested for DUI can leave you confused, angry, and afraid. You may wonder what will happen after you are taken to jail, fingerprinted, and left to wait for your first appearance. You may wonder if you will lose your driver’s license or even your job.
You need the help of a skilled DUI defense lawyer in Orlando. We are here to help you through this difficult time with the knowledge and experience to fight your charges and navigate the legal processes.
There are defenses to DUI charges that can reduce or reverse your charges, and the attorneys at Panella Law Firm will work with the prosecution to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Panella Law Firm legal team will help you by:
One of your primary rights following an arrest is the right to counsel. You should ask for an Orlando DUI lawyer immediately, even if you believe you have done nothing wrong. Asking for representation is not an admission of guilt. Panella Law Firm wants to defend your rights regardless of your charges.
“I hired Mr. Panella about a year ago (November 2020) for a DUI case of a family member that was in the Country and then had to leave. Even though Mr. Panella’s client wasn’t present, he did not abandon the case. He stayed on top of it the entire time, communicating with me and doing everything in his power to finish the case and do the best for his client. He called me after hours and even on the weekend, no matter what day or time he was doing his job. He was always friendly and willing to do whatever it took to help us. I can honestly say that he went way and beyond his duty as a Lawyer to finish the case in a way that was satisfying to my family. I Highly recommend him!!!!” – Ivoneth Gibbs (Google Review)
Florida law defines driving under the influence as:
According to the State of Florida, the offense is demonstrated by “impairment of normal faculties,” so when an officer sees you driving erratically, that is sufficient probable cause for stopping you and administering a field sobriety test.
Florida has no separate law for “drugged driving.” If a police officer believes you are under the influence of drugs, they may request you submit to a blood or urine test (Breathalyzer tests will not show the presence of drugs), and you may be charged for being under the influence. You can refuse to take the test, but refusal can lead to a separate misdemeanor charge.
Whether you have been drinking or using another drug and are caught driving, the penalties are the same:
After the third offense, the chances of prison time and permanent license suspension increase. The placement of the ignition interlock device is done at your own cost and must be done on your primary vehicle and any other cars you typically use.
If your DUI caused property damage, injury, or death, you can expect penalties to be much more severe, including vehicular homicide. A vehicular homicide charge has a minimum four-year prison term for a first offense.
For these reasons, you should never face a DUI charge alone. You need the skilled legal team of the Panella Law Firm, giving you every advantage, you have for the best outcome you can get.
Our clients often have questions about their DUI arrest before they talk with us. You may have some of the same questions before your consultation.
I was sitting in my driveway. Can I get a DUI?
In Florida, the statute says you are guilty of driving under the influence if you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. The courts have decided this means if you’re sitting in your driveway or standing near your car with your keys in your hand. The bottom line is whether the arresting officer thinks you were going to drive.
What is “probable cause” for a police officer to make a DUI arrest?
“Probable cause” means that the officer has articulable facts coupled with a reasonable belief that you have consumed alcohol or drugs and are too impaired to drive. That means the officer cannot just think you might have had a few drinks. You must also display physical signs of impairment, such as:
None of these things “proves” you are intoxicated. Only a blood test can definitively prove you have been drinking or using drugs. These things only establish that there are sufficient grounds for a blood or breath test.
They didn’t read me my rights! I’m free, right?
Wrong. This is the biggest myth in the legal world, thanks to countless TV shows and movies. “Reading your rights,” properly known as Mirandizing you, only needs to be done when a police officer questions you about the crime after you’ve been taken into custody. Even if they fail to Mirandize you, it doesn’t mean you’re free; it only means some of your statements can’t be used in court.
What do I say when I get arrested?
There are some things you must say when you’re taken into custody.
Once you have invoked your right to remain silent, you cannot talk to the police about anything else without losing your right. It’s best to request an attorney immediately and then say nothing else until your arraignment.
Sometimes you may be guilty of DUI. You may think there’s nothing an attorney can do for you. Maybe you feel bad about driving drunk, or you had an accident, and you figure you just have to take your medicine. There’s nothing even a great attorney can do for you, right?
At Panella Law Firm, we never say never. There are many ways we can help mitigate or defend your case, even if you were intoxicated when you were arrested. Here are some things that can be done to lighten the impact of a serious DUI charge.
1. Voluntary enrollment in a substance abuse program or rehab. The judge will probably order a substance abuse program anyway, so having one in place before your arraignment shows you are taking this seriously.
2. Testimonials and family statements. Not all judges accept these, but we will obtain statements from family, friends, employers, and others who know you to show that this was a one-time incident and that you have no previous record of this behavior.
3. Prior history. We will pull your records to show the court that you are not a hardened criminal with a past history of DUIs and criminal behavior.
4. Review of the police reports and jail records. If the police did not have probable cause for the arrest or there were any irregularities in the field sobriety test or Breathalyzer test, they can help our attorneys push for a better plea bargain.
5. Hearing preparation will ensure you show a proper attitude in court. Being respectful to the judge is more important than many people realize.
Even if you were drinking and driving, the DUI lawyers in Orlando at Panella Law Firm will do our best to help you get the justice you deserve and ensure you are treated fairly by the courts. We never give up on our clients, no matter what the circumstances.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or other driving-related offense in Orlando or Central Florida, you need the legal knowledge and experience of Panella Law Firm. Our DUI lawyers in Orlando are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions and advise you and your family during this frightening time.
Call us at 407-233-1822 or fill out our intake form, and we’ll be in touch with you right away. You’re not alone, and we’re here to help you no matter what.