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Driving Under the Influence

St. Petersburg DUI Lawyer

Contact the Morris Law Firm after a arrest for DUI in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida. Most people arrested for this offense are largely concerned about the suspension of their driver license. If you refused to take a breath test after being arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, or if the results of your breath test were .08% or above, your license will be suspended 10 days after the arrest unless you or your attorney file a written demand for an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest.

Time is of the essence.
Time is of the essence.

You have a very narrow window of time between when you are arrested and when the State Attorney's office makes a decision to file a criminal charge against you. Hiring an attorney immediately to negotiate on your behalf gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal charges.

Hire the Morris Law Firm and let us fight for you

Attorney Melinda Morris, served on the DUI Manslaughter / Vehicular Homicide squad while a State Attorney, and was responsible for prosecuting very serious cases from investigation through trial. Ms. Morris also received special training on prosecuting DUI cases from the State of Florida. For an attorney, this inside knowledge is of critical importance and can benefit the defense of your case.

Morris Law Firm can help you fight to pursue favorable options include case dismissal, not guilty verdicts, reduced charges and other outcomes. The St. Petersburg criminal defense firm represents clients throughout Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Gulf City and nearby areas. Cases that the law firm represents include:

Obtaining Legal Representation

A momentary lack of judgment or a miscalculation in a situation can land even the most careful people in Florida into criminal troubles. Driving under the influence in Florida is a complex matter that goes well-beyond your day in court. Your driver’s license is at risk and can be taken from you in a matter completely separate from your trial.

Being without a driver’s license is more than an inconvenience and lack of identification can cause severe problems in every part of life. If you are a resident of Clearwater or St. Petersburg, Florida, and are facing DUI charges, you need an attorney that will stand up for your rights.

With your upcoming court date ticking like a time bomb, every minute without an experienced attorney is a wasted one. Your future and your very way of life is in the balance and you cannot afford to represent yourself or be misrepresented.


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DUI Information Center

DUI Information Center

What Happens Next

What Happens Next

The Morris Law Firm is a full service criminal defense firm that will:

Strive To Minimize Your Court Appearances:

  • We can appear in Court on your behalf, and save you time from missing work.
  • It may be possible to resolve your case without your appearance in Court or the need for a trial.

Investigate, Assess & Analyze Your Case:

  • With experience as a Former State Prosecutor, we will assess the case against you and explain the possible outcomes.
  • We will research all legal issues in your case and pursue the best possible resolution for you.

Negotiate on Your Behalf:

  • With our local knowledge of the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County, we will immediately communicate with the prosecutor and negotiate on your behalf. In many cases the prosecutor has the discretion to file reduced charges, or to not file charges at all.

Prepare Your Defense:

  • We will strive to file any necessary motions to dismiss or motions to attempt to exclude evidence in an effort to maximize your opportunity for a positive outcome.
  • We will represent you at any necessary pre-trial hearings, pre-trial motions, and at trial.

Conclude Your Case:

  • We will continue to advocate your case at sentencing, to attempt to reduce any negative impact on you.
  • If possible, we will work on your behalf to have your records sealed or expunged.

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DUI Charges

DUI - The Charge

Defining DUI in Florida:

A person is arrested for DUI in the state of Florida if they fail a sobriety test. These tests come in two methods: physical and chemical.

A physical sobriety tests measures a person’s ability to control their bodily actions. This includes balance, agility, and reaction time. While there are set standards for sobriety set by Florida law, much of what constitutes a failed sobriety test is left up to the discretion of the office.

Under Florida state law, if a person’s blood alcohol level is registered to be .08 on a breathalyzer or in a blood test, they are legally intoxicated. Certain factors can alter both these results however, and if a person arrested has medical reasons for this level, then that is something an attorney can use for a strong defense.


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DUI Potential Defenses

Potential Defenses

Due to the complexities, the potential defenses in drunk driving cases are limitless. Deciding on a DUI lawyer with exclusive facts of these possible defenses is of critical significance. Largely speaking, the common defenses are:

  1. Driving - being intoxicated will not classify a DUI charge; the prosecutor must be able to prove the defendant was actually driving. This may be challenging, especially when accidents are involved.
  2. Probable cause - proof will be inhibited if the law enforcer did not have legal cause to halt, impede, and detain.
  3. Miranda Rights - convicting declarations may be inhibited if restraints were failed to mentioned at the proper time.
  4. Implied consent warnings - if the police officer did not warn you of the penalties of declining to take a chemical test, or gave it inaccurately, this may affect acceptability of the test results -- as with the license suspension obliged by the motor vehicle division.
  5. Under the influence - the police officer interpretations and views as to drunkenness can be questioned -- the conditions under which the field sobriety assessments were given, for example, or the subjective and predisposed nature of what the law enforcer perceive as failing. Witnesses can attest that you seemed to be sober.
  6. Blood-alcohol concentration - there exists a wide range of possible complications with blood, breath or urine analysis. Most breath machines will register many chemical compounds found on the human breath as alcohol, this is non-specific analysis. Other defects in analysis can be conveyed in cross-examination of the state's expert witness, and/or the defense can appoint its own forensic chemist.
  7. Testing during the absorptive phase - the blood, breath or urine test will be defective if done while you are actively absorbing alcohol (it takes 45 minutes to three hours to complete absorption; this can be delayed if food is present in the stomach). Thus, drinking "one for the road" can cause inaccurate test results.
  8. Retrograde extrapolation - This refers to the requirement that the blood and alcohol concentration level (BAC) be "related back" in time from the test to the driving. Numerous of complex physiological problems are involved here.
  9. Regulation of blood-alcohol testing - The prosecution must prove that the blood, breath or urine test complied with state requirements as to calibration, maintenance, etc.

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Potential DUI Punishments

Potential Punishments

Depending upon how many prior DUI convictions an individual has, the penalties are different. Any first DUI offense or second offense is a misdemeanor. A third offense within 10 years of the last conviction will be charged as felony. A second offense within five years of the last conviction requires a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail, if convicted. The penalties are also more severe if a breath test result is above a .20.

You may:

  • Face jail or prison time
  • Lose your Driver’s License (Administrative Suspension and Criminal Suspension), in addition to being required to have restrictive license programs including ignition interlock devices
  • Face fines
  • Be confined to probation, or in some cases house arrest
  • Be required to attend substance-abuse evaluation and treatment
  • Be subject to a ten (10) day impound of your vehicle
  • Have higher auto insurance premiums
  • Be required to perform community service
  • Court ordered restitution
  • Be required to attend a Victim Impact Panel course
  • Have a permanent criminal record

Trial in Pinellas County

While Attorney Melinda Morris will be fighting for your right to drive, Ms. Morris will also be setting up and running your criminal defense. Thanks to many years experience in Florida driving under the influence cases, Ms. Morris knows how to make sure that you get treated fairly. If needed, the top DUI experts in the field can be at your disposal, giving you the best chance of an acquittal. In your trial, we know that everything is on the line and we will do everything to assure you that justice is done.

During your trial, your attorney will investigate the circumstances that led to your arrest and will counter the testimony of the arresting officer. By having an experienced lawyer on your side, errors in physical or chemical testing will be discovered if they are present. If you have a condition or are on a medication they may have altered either test, this will be brought to light.

In many cases in Pinellas Country and Florida in general, a lawyer can have a sentence reduced to reckless driving. There is a huge difference in legal matters, monetary loss, and insurance premium costs between a DUI and a reckless driving conviction in St. Petersburg, FL. By pleading down to reckless driving, you can also spare yourself from putting a DUI conviction of future applications for insurance or employment.

Protect Your License

According to Florida Statute Section 322.2615, after your initial arrest, the Florida DMV will process an order to suspend your driver’s license. This means that even though you still have your day in court upcoming, you will not be able to legally drive a vehicle. Our attorneys can provide a way for Florida residents to keep their license after a drunk driving or drugged driving arrest.

By filing for a DMV administrative hearing within 10 days after the initial arrest, your lawyer is able to make sure that you receive your due-diligence. Through the actions of your attorney, you can be issued a 42-day driving permit that will allow you to drive as usual while your case is being tried. This motion must be filed within 10 days, so getting an attorney for your case is of the utmost importance.


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DUI Resources/Links

Resources/Links

Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association - The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) is an organization which embodies over 100 community-based substance abuse treatment and prevention agencies and more than 1000 individual members throughout Florida.

Florida DUI Laws - Visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to get more information on Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws.

Florida Licensed DUI Programs - The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides resources for Florida's Licensed DUI Programs.

Pinellas County - Suncoast Safety Council, Inc.
1145 Court Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
Phone:(727) 442-0233
Fax: (727) 447-1677

MADD Florida - The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stand for activism, victims services, and education. Visit the MADD website for content on preventing driving under the influence.

Pinellas County - MADD
2857 Executive Dr. 1st Floor
Clearwater, FL 33762
Phone: (727) 556-0633

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DUI How We Can Help You

How We Can Help You

Whether it is your freedom, or your license, you cannot delay in getting legal representation. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation to secure your legal representation. If you have been arrested for DUI in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bartow, New Port Richey, Dade City, Plant City, or the surrounding areas, our law firm is prepared to defend you against the drunk or impaired driving charges. Contact a criminal defense attorney at our firm to fight your felony or misdemeanor DUI charges today.

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