Tampa DUI Attorney

Driving while impaired due to alcohol or drugs leads to serious penalties and can change the course of your life. You should work with a DUI attorney to determine how to fight these charges and avoid a conviction. At Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A., a skilled DUI lawyer will aggressively pursue the best possible outcome. Our goal is to help you avoid the harsh penalties and stigma associated with a DUI. Contact us today at (813) 258-4800 or submit your information online to schedule a free consultation.

Why You Should Choose Our Firm to Defend Your DUI Charge

Brett Metcalf is a Tampa native who believes in serving his community. After beginning his career as a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office, Brett opened his firm in July 2012. Since then, he has defended many people against DUI charges.

Brett has successfully obtained the best possible results for many of his clients, earning him more than 90 five-star reviews. He has a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.com. His results also have been recognized by many legal organizations. The National Trial Lawyers included Brett in the Top 40 Under 40 and the Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Super Lawyers has named Brett a Rising Star two years in a row. In 2018, Brett’s peers voted him the #1 DUI Defense Lawyer in Tampa through a Tampa Magazine survey.

With years of experience prosecuting and defending against first and subsequent DUI charges, Brett knows how to handle your case efficiently and the best method for pursuing reduced charges, a dismissal, an acquittal, or minimal penalties upon conviction.

Steps our firm takes during the legal process include:

  • Investigating the stop and arrest that led to the DUI charges.
  • Validating any breath or blood test used to determine your BAC.
  • Analyzing the instructions given for field sobriety tests (FSTs) and the alleged results.
  • Submitting legal documents on your behalf.
  • Representing you in court.
  • Helping you obtain release from jail, including arranging bail.
  • Challenging any violations of your constitutional rights.
  • Challenging the results of DUI chemical tests.
  • Challenging the reliability of FSTs.
  • Pursuing a dismissal or acquittal.
  • Taking steps to mitigate the consequences of a potential conviction.

DUI Cases We’ve Handled

Defending Against DUI Charges in Florida

When we receive phone calls and emails about DUI charges, the most common question is, “How can a DUI defense lawyer can me off?” The next question is, “What defenses can I use against a DUI?”

How Can I Get Out of a DUI?

Getting out of a DUI requires the prosecutor to drop the charges or the judge to dismiss the case. In either situation, the charges do not move forward.

A DWI attorney can explain the various methods of pursuing a dismissal in your DUI case. Certain defense strategies can lead a judge to dismiss the case. For example, through a motion to dismiss, we may establish prior to trial that there is insufficient evidence to prove you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

We may convince the prosecutor to drop the charges, or we may place the prosecutor in the position where dropping the charges is the reasonable thing to do. For example, we may find the police found evidence against you by violating your constitutional rights. We would file a motion to have this evidence ruled inadmissible. Without this evidence, the prosecutor may not have a strong enough case to rationalize the use of their time and resources in bringing the case to trial.

What Defenses Can Be Used to Fight a DUI Charge?

We may use one or more defenses to establish that the judge or jury cannot find you guilty of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, we will use one or several defenses to raise doubt.

For every DUI, there may be several possible defenses. The strongest, most effective defense will depend on the specific facts of your case as well as the inclinations of the judge in charge of your case. Not all judges respond to various arguments the same way. A thorough understanding of a judge’s thoughts regarding certain arguments and their decisions helps your attorney build an aggressive DUI defense strategy.

If you elect to have a jury trial, then your drunk driving lawyer will analyze juror demographics, sympathies, and biases. A thorough understanding of the attitudes and believes of the potential jurors is essential in determining the best possible defense strategy during a jury trial.

Possible DUI defenses include:

No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop You:

Your DUI attorney will investigate the facts surrounding when and how an officer stopped you to determine if it was a lawful stop. If the police subjected you to an illegal traffic stop, then any evidence obtained following that stop is inadmissible – including your performance of field sobriety exercises and your refusal to or result of chemical testing. For a DUI stop to be lawful, an officer must either witness a traffic infraction, like speeding, or must have reasonable suspicion that you are impaired based on your driving pattern. This can be a fact intensive analysis that varies from case to case. Generally, a successful challenge here leads to a dismissal of your case.

Insufficient Evidence You Were Impaired:

To be convicted of a DUI, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. However, there may be too little evidence that you were impaired. If you did well on field sobriety exercises, the officer’s dash cam will show that. No matter your BAC, we will argue that the jury should trust their eyes. They know what a drunk person looks like and they likely won’t know anything about how the breath test machine works. When the evidence of the prosecution’s case is in conflict, we will be prepared to ask for a not guilty verdict.

DUI Checkpoint Did Not Comply with Standards:

Many states like Florida allow the police to conduct DUI/sobriety checkpoints. However, these roadblocks must meet certain standards to be constitutional. These standards require a law enforcement agency to adopt written guidelines before implementing a checkpoint. These guidelines must detail how the checkpoint will be conducted and which vehicles will be stopped. Which vehicles are stopped should be predetermined and not a matter of police discretion, which could lead to discrimination. We will carefully review how the DUI checkpoint was operated to determine if it met or violated the necessary standards.

Not in Actual Physical Control of a Vehicle:

Florida DUI law states you can be charged if you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. This has led some people who are sleeping off their drinks to be arrested and charged, even though the vehicle was not in motion. If you were not driving the vehicle, a DUI lawyer may argue that you were not in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Test Results Were Unreliable:

If the prosecutor wishes to use the results of a breath, blood, or urine test in court, then that test must have been administered correctly, using reliable and properly calibrated equipment, and by an individual with the proper qualifications. We will scrutinize how your breath, blood, or urine sample was tested to determine if the results are reliable or whether some flaw makes the results unreliable and inappropriate for admission in court.

Breathalyzer Was Inaccurate:

In Florida, all breath tests since 2007 have conducted on the Intoxilyzer 8000. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has written its own rules on inspecting this outdated machine to make sure the results are “accurate.” There is a significant margin for error, and many factors can influence the test results. Knowing the ins-and-outs of the testing and inspection rules is crucial to establishing that the results of your breath test are unreliable.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction

Whether you face a first or third DUI, you must be aware of the consequences.

First DUI with a BAC Under 0.15%

  • A fine up to $1,000.00
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • Driver’s license revocation between 180 days and one year
  • Level 1 DUI school
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment

If your BAC is above 0.15% at the time of the DUI stop, you face higher fines, longer-term of possible jail time, and the requirement to install and use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for at least 6 months.

Second DUI With a BAC Under 0.15%

  • Fine up to $2,000.00
  • Up to 9 months in jail
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • Driver’s license revocation between 180 days and one year
  • Level 2 DUI school
  • 30-day vehicle impoundment
  • 6 months of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle

If your second DUI comes within five years of your first, then the judge must impose at least 10 days of jail time and a five-year license revocation.

If at the time of your second DUI, you had a BAC of 0.15% or higher, you face higher fines and up to 12 months in jail, in addition to the other penalties.

Multiple DUIs

If you are charged with a third DUI within 10 years of your previous two DUIs, then you will be charged with a felony. The penalties include:

  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Up to 5 years in prison with a minimum of 30 days in jail
  • 90-day vehicle impoundment
  • 10-year license revocation
  • Level 3 DUI school
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years

Felony DUI

You can face a felony charge if you are accused of a:

  • Third DUI within 10 years
  • Fourth DUI within any time
  • DUI involving serious bodily injury
  • DUI manslaughter

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury

If you are arrested after causing a DUI accident that results in serious bodily injury, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. You face up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000 as well as restitution, license revocation, ignition interlock device, vehicle impoundment, and DUI school.

DUI Manslaughter

If a DUI accident results in a person’s death or the loss of a pregnancy, you will be charged with a second-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000 as well as additional DUI penalties. The judge must also impose a minimum-mandatory 4 year prison sentence if you are convicted.

Drugged DUI

You can be charged with and convicted of a DUI without any alcohol in your system. Florida’s DUI law states you can be charged for a DUI if you are under the influence of any chemical substance or controlled substance. A drug DUI can include valid prescription drugs that impair your ability to drive safely.

Underage DUI

If you are under 21 years old, you can face DUI consequences if your BAC is at least 0.02% or if you are impaired due to drugs. If your BAC is between 0.02% and 0.07%, you face a 6-month license suspension. However, if you refused to submit to a chemical test, your license will be suspended for 1 year.

If your BAC was 0.08% or above, you face the same penalties as a driver over the age of 21 years for a first, second, or subsequent DUI.

CDL DUI

Drivers with a commercial driver’s license and who are in their commercial vehicles have a lower BAC limit of 0.04%. If you are a CDL driver in your truck, you face the same penalties for DUIs in Florida. However, if you lose the administrative suspension hearing or are convicted of a DUI, your CDL will be disqualified – jeopardizing your livelihood.

DUI on a Boat

It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Florida waters. The BAC limit is the same for boating as it is for driving. For a first offense, you face fines up to $1,000 and 6 months in jail. For a second offense, you face fines up to $2,000 and jail for up to 9 months. If your BAC was above 0.15%, you would face higher fines and longer jail time.

You also face a felony DUI a third offense within 10 years or a fourth boating DUI.

What Our Clients Are Saying

Brett is the best attorney I’ve ever had. I would recommend his services to anyone in need.
Pink Taylor

09.18.2019

“Brett is the best attorney I’ve ever had. I would recommend his services to anyone in need. Most lawyers just want the money, ignore your calls, and settle for deals. Not Brett! He answered and returned every call! Every penny…

5 Stars Review 5

Pink Taylor

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08.14.2019

“He did an amazing job for me in Polk County! When I got involved in a situation that needed a criminal lawyer, I was terrified. Having only lived in Florida a few years, I was not prepared for the complexity…

5 Stars Review 5

Lisa Welsh

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01.11.2019

“Mr. Metcalf is very knowledgeable, friendly, and on top of things. In the midst of my confusion and thoughts of the worst possible outcome, Mr. Metcalf took charge and handled the situation with professionalism and tact. I am very pleased…

5 Stars Review 5

Sherry Violet

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08.06.2018

“Brett is an extremely knowledgeable attorney who is a straight shooter, hard worker, and always willing to go the extra mile to fight for his clients. I’ve had to use him two separate times and was more than pleased with…

5 Stars Review 5

Ryan Belden

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06.19.2017

“Brett went far out of his way for my multiple cases and managed to keep me a free man even with all the charges that were put on me. 100% behind him from Plant City.”

5 Stars Review 5

Issac Thomas

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04.10.2017

“If you’ve decided to scroll past all the other positive reviews and find yourself reading mine, I’ll start out by saying Brett’s the man. He handles business efficiently and professionally, with the clients’ best interests in mind at all times….

5 Stars Review 5

Evin O

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04.09.2017

“Mr. Metcalf was there for me at the most difficult and life-changing time in my life. I was treated respectfully the whole entire process, despite my embarrassing and shameful mistake. He extended honesty and professional courtesy throughout my case, guiding…

5 Stars Review 5

Sharley Lanigan

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04.08.2017

“Brett Metcalf is the best lawyer in the Tampa Bay area. He puts 100% into his work and goes far and beyond what you would expect out of a lawyer. If it wasn’t for Brett, my husband and I would…

5 Stars Review 5

Janice Luke

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04.06.2017

“Wonderful experience with Brett Metcalf. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing. It’s a good feeling when you know you’re in good hands and your attorney is genuinely concerned about the outcome of your…

5 Stars Review 5

Gerald

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12.02.2017

“I have consulted with Brett on various issues and have found him to be excellent. He is very practical in potential outcomes on legal issues and very reasonable.”

5 Stars Review 5

Albert Piccolo

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04.05.2017

“Brett helped me win full custody of my kids. Any and every question I had, he was right there to answer and explain the process. He was open and honest about the whole process. Extremely good price… and even better…

5 Stars Review 5

James Woodson

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08.13.2016

“Brett Metcalf was the best experience that I’ve ever had with any legal professional! He was understanding, honest, and worked diligently throughout my entire DUI case I had several years back. Even with the odds stacked against me, he was…

5 Stars Review 5

Nathan Hester

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08.12.2016

“Very knowledgeable and compassionate. I always felt like I could contact him with questions at any time. He was extremely thorough with information – I can’t stress that enough! I would definitely hire him again and recommend him to anyone,…

5 Stars Review 5

Christa Murray

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08.10.2016

“Brett Metcalf provides forward-thinking and effective legal counsel. I highly recommend Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A.”

5 Stars Review 5

Annie Shipherd

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08.08.2016

“Brett Metcalf is a top-notch attorney. He also understands that preparation and hard work are keys to success. He possesses the knowledge, the insights, and the advocacy skills to put your legal woes in the past. Equally important, he follows…

5 Stars Review 5

Charles Goddard

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08.08.2016

“In late 2015, I was in need of a lawyer who could help me. Looking on the internet and asking friends if they knew any great ones was looking pretty bad. Then my younger brother told me about a lawyer…

5 Stars Review 5

Elijah Turner

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08.06.2016

“I could not be any happier with my experience with Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A. I would advise anyone who needs legal action to choose wisely and choose him for multiple reasons.”

5 Stars Review 5

Marty McPhly

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08.06.2016

“Brett made the process as easy as possible for me on my end, letting me know all options and possible outcomes based on my choices. He was also very attentive and quick to respond to my questions.”

5 Stars Review 5

Clay

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02.27.2019

“Extremely professional and clearly the sharpest tool in any toolbox. Set the tone in the courtroom. This has to be one of the best law offices in Tampa. Thanks, Brett.”

5 Stars Review 5

Daniel Turner

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Average 5 out of 5 rating based on 44 Reviews

Florida DUI Law

Operating under the influence is unlawful under Florida Statute 316.19, which states a person is guilty of a DUI if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state and:

  • The person is under the influence of alcohol, any chemical substance, or any controlled substance to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
  • The person has a BAC at or above 0.08%.

Common DUI Terms

Common terms related to DUI charges include:

DWI:

Driving while impaired is another term for a DUI.

OVI:

Some states refer to a DUI as operating a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired.

BAC:

BAC refers to a person’s blood alcohol content or concentration.

Under the influence:

Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not require your BAC to be over the legal limit. Impairment can be proven by your physical state, the presence of alcohol or empty cans or bottles in the vehicle, and how you answer an officer’s questions.

Breathalyzer:

A breathalyzer is a general name for a breath testing device. In Florida, the breathalyzer used for DUI cases is the Intoxilyzer 8000. A breathalyzer provides an estimate of the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a person’s breath.

Chemical test:

Chemical tests refer to breath, blood, or urine tests that determine a person’s BAC level.

Actual Physical Control of a Vehicle:

Being in actual physical control of a vehicle means having the apparent ability to immediately operate the vehicle. This can be analyzed based on the location of the vehicle, your location within the vehicle, the location of the keys, and the condition of the vehicle.

Florida BAC Limits

The BAC limit you face depends on your circumstances.

  • If you are 21 years or older and driving a personal vehicle, then your BAC limit is 0.08%.
  • If you are under 21 years old, then Florida’s BAC limit for you is 0.02%.
  • You also face a lower BAC limit if you have a CDL and are in your commercial vehicle. You can be charged with a DUI if your BAC is at or above 0.04%.

If you are facing DUI charges for having a BAC over the legal limit, contact a successful DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Breath and Blood BAC Tests

If you are pulled over for a DUI, you are not required to submit to a breathalyzer test. However, this will not stop you from being arrested. If an officer believes they have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI, they will do so whether or not you blow into a breathalyzer.

Once you have been arrested for a DUI, then Florida’s implied consent law applies. Under this law, by driving in Florida, you have already consented to submit to chemical tests or physical tests to determine your BAC.

If you refuse a breath test, you face administrative and criminal consequences, including potentially harsher penalties upon conviction. If you refuse a blood test, you also face administrative penalties. However, due to a Supreme Court ruling, you cannot be criminally penalized for refusing a warrantless blood test.

No matter the result of your breath test, your case is not automatically dead in the water. Breath test machines must be properly calibrated and maintained. We often find during investigations of DUI charges that law enforcement agencies have not taken care of their machine. This makes the results unreliable.

Blood tests also can be influenced by various factors. We will scrutinize when and where your blood sample was taken, who took and secured the blood sample, and who analyzed it for alcohol content. We may find issues that make the results unreliable and inadmissible in court.

If you refused to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine your BAC, then under the implied consent law, you face an administrative driver’s license suspension. You will lose your license for one year for a first-time refusal and for 18 months for a second refusal.

A second refusal also is a first-degree misdemeanor, for which you can be convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail.

When you are given notice of an automatic administrative license suspension, contact a drunk driving attorney right away. You can appeal this suspension. However, you must act quickly.

Field Sobriety Tests

FSTs are combination physical-cognitive tests officers use to determine if a driver may be impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both. The results of one or more of these tests, and the dashcam footage of you completing the test, could be used in court.

There are three standardized FSTs:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test:

Everyone’s eyes move involuntarily. However, when inebriated, a person’s eyes may make overly pronounced jerking motions. During this test, an officer will have you look at an object and track it back and forth with your eyes without moving your head. The officer is looking for whether the jerking motion is pronounced when your eyes are at significant peripheral angles. When you are not intoxicated, your eyes will have an easier time smoothly tracking the object.

Walk-and-Turn Test:

During a walk and turn test, you will be asked to take nine steps, touching your heel to your toe each time. Then, you will be directed to turn on one foot and return in the same manner. An officer is judging several criteria, including your ability to follow instructions, your balance, and your ability to correctly count the steps.

One-Leg Stand Test:

You will be asked to stand with one foot off the ground about 6 inches while you count aloud beginning with one thousand until the officer instructs you to put your foot down. The officer will observe your ability to balance without using your arms, whether you hop, and whether you put your foot down.

Do I Have to Take FSTs?

During a traffic stop and prior to being arrested for a DUI, you are under no obligation to perform any FSTs. If an officer asks you to do so or begins to instruct you in a test, you can politely decline.

There are no civil or criminal penalties for refusing a FST.

It can benefit you to refuse to take any FSTs. By not submitting to these tests, you limit the amount of evidence the officer has against you to make an arrest and the evidence the State’s Attorney Office has to prosecute you. Limiting the evidence against you, whenever possible, can help you avoid or defeat DUI charges.

If you did submit to one or more FSTs, contact a DUI attorney to discuss your circumstances immediately.

Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction

You need to be aware of the additional consequences you face for pleading or being convicted of a DUI:

Employment Problems:

Without a driver’s license and a DUI on your record, your employment opportunities will be limited.

Professional License Difficulties:

A DUI conviction may make you ineligible to obtain certain professional licenses. Even if you are eligible, the governing body of the profession may hesitate to grant you a license on ethical grounds.

Immigration Complications:

If you are in the U.S. on a visa, a DUI can make you ineligible for permanent residency or naturalization. It also can lead to deportation proceedings.

Child Custody Issues:

A DUI conviction and the loss of your driver’s license can be used against you by your children’s other parent. Your child custody or visitation could be reduced.

Auto Insurance Premiums:

Your auto insurance premiums will increase—potentially significantly.

Felony Conviction Consequences:

If you are convicted of a felony DUI, you will lose your right to own or possess firearms.

A DUI Attorney Can Help You Get the Best Outcome Possible

When facing DUI charges in Tampa, you may be tempted to rely on the help of a public defender. However, we recommend seeking the help of a private attorney who specifically focuses on DUI defense. Public defenders are burdened with ridiculous caseloads and have very little time to focus on your case alone. DWI defense lawyer Brett Metcalf, however, has the time and resources necessary to fight for the best possible outcome in your DUI case.

Contact Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A. through the online form or by calling (813) 258-4800.

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