Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney

Image of a man being tested using breathalyser

Are you facing a DUI charge in Fort Lauderdale? What should your next steps be? Let the lawyers at Phillips | Tadros, P.A., help you. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, our team is here to prepare the strongest possible defense on your behalf. We understand how stressful and overwhelming this time can be, which is why we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and answer all your questions.

Don’t let a DUI charge define your future. Contact a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer from Phillips | Tadros, P.A., today to learn how we can support you and protect your rights.

Why You Need a Fort Lauderdale, FL, Defense Lawyer for a DUI Case

Having a DUI lawyer is essential if you’re facing charges of driving under the influence in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, or elsewhere in Florida. A skilled attorney understands the legal system and knows how to interpret complex DUI laws. They can examine your case for any mistakes made during your arrest, challenge the evidence against you, and argue for lesser penalties or even dismissal of the charges against you. Your lawyer will also know about programs for first-time offenders that could lead to your charges being dropped.

Without a Florida DUI lawyer, you might miss these opportunities and face the maximum penalties. Moreover, an experienced DUI attorney can save you money in the long run by helping you avoid steep fines, higher insurance rates, and potential job loss. In short, a defense lawyer gives you the best chance of fighting your DUI charges and protecting your future.

What Are the Florida DUI Laws?

 Florida law has specific definitions of what behaviors count as DUI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired). Specifically, the law says that a person commits a DUI offense if they operate or have actual control over a vehicle and meet any of the following conditions:

  • They are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or certain other chemical substances to the point where their normal abilities to operate a vehicle are impaired. This means their ability to see, hear, walk, judge distances, or make judgments is worse than it would be normally due to their consumption of impairing substances.
  • Their blood alcohol content (BAC) level meets or exceeds the Florida DUI limit. For most drivers, this limit is 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
  • A breathalyzer test shows a BAC level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

In this context, being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle means having the ability to operate or influence its movement, even if you’re not actively driving it. For example, if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or within reach, you have actual physical control of the vehicle. This concept is important because it means you don’t need to be moving or even have your vehicle’s engine running to face DUI charges in Florida.

Is a DUI a Felony in Florida?

If you are wondering whether a DUI is a felony in Florida, it depends on specific circumstances. Generally, a first or second DUI that doesn’t result in serious injury or death is a misdemeanor. However, the situation changes with more severe incidents or repeated offenses.

A DUI charge might upgrade to a felony if:

  • It’s the third DUI within 10 years of a previous conviction
  • It’s a fourth or subsequent DUI
  • It results in serious bodily injury to another person
  • It results in the death of another person (DUI manslaughter)

What Are the Florida DUI Penalties?

In Florida, the law imposes strict penalties for DUI convictions. Here’s a breakdown of the consequences you could face if the state finds you guilty of DUI.


Possible fines for DUI convictions in Florida are as follows:

  • First DUI – Expect to pay between $500 and $1,000. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher, or a minor was in the vehicle, the fines increase to between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • Second DUI – Fines range from $1,000 to $2,000, doubling to $2,000 to $4,000 with a high BAC or a minor in the car.
  • Third DUI – If you are convicted of a third DUI within 10 years of the second, fines rise to between $2,000 and $5,000. If a high BAC or a minor is involved, the minimum fine is $4,000.
  • Fourth and Subsequent DUIs – Fines start at a minimum of $2,000, increasing to at least $4,000 for offenses involving a high BAC or a minor passenger.

Jail Time

You could also face jail time for DUI in Florida. Here are the potential jail sentences:

  • First-time offenders could face up to six months in jail, which increases to nine months with a high BAC or a minor in the vehicle.
  • A second DUI could result in nine months to one year in jail. For a second DUI within five years, a minimum 10-day jail term with at least 48 consecutive hours is mandatory.
  • For a third offense within 10 years, there’s a minimum of 30 days in jail, with a mandatory 48 consecutive hours of confinement.
  • Four or more DUIs could result in up to five years in prison.

License Revocation

License revocation periods vary significantly based on the offense and prior convictions. They range from a minimum of 180 days for a first offense not resulting in bodily injury to a permanent revocation for manslaughter or multiple DUI convictions.

Other Consequences

In addition to the penalties listed above, convicted offenders can face vehicle impoundment, DUI probation, and mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation. DUIs involving property damage or personal injury can lead to first-degree misdemeanor charges, with penalties including a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. More severe offenses, like those involving multiple DUIs, serious bodily injury, or manslaughter, can escalate to felony charges, significantly increasing fines and jail time.

What Are Common Defenses Used in DUI Cases?

A knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney lawyer might employ one or several strategies to defend you against the DUI charges you face. Depending on the circumstances, they might use defense strategies that center on:

  • Improper Police Stops – Your lawyer could argue that the police didn’t have a valid reason to stop your vehicle in the first place. If the stop was illegal, any evidence the police gathered during the stop might be inadmissible in court.
  • Inaccurate Sobriety Tests – Field sobriety tests are highly subjective and subject to influence by many factors. Your lawyer might question the accuracy of these tests or whether the officer conducted them correctly.
  • Faulty Breathalyzer Tests – Breathalyzers need regular calibration and maintenance. If there’s evidence that the device wasn’t working or calibrated properly, your lawyer could challenge the reliability of a breathalyzer test result.
  • Medical Conditions – Some medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of intoxication or affect the accuracy of breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. Your lawyer might present medical records to show that your condition could have influenced the test results.

Can a DUI Be Dismissed?

It’s possible that a DUI charge can be dismissed in Florida. However, a dismissal is not guaranteed and depends on various factors. Here are a few ways your defense attorney could have your DUI charge dismissed:

  • Highlighting Legal Errors – If the police made mistakes during your arrest, like not following proper search procedures, your lawyer could argue to have the court drop your charges.
  • Demonstrating Insufficient Evidence – Your attorney could challenge the evidence against you. For example, if the breathalyzer test was inaccurate, your lawyer could have your case dismissed.
  • Diverting You to First-Time Offender Programs – Florida offers DUI diversion programs for some first-time offenders. These programs often involve education and community service. If your attorney persuades the court to put you in one of these programs, and you complete it successfully, it could lead to your charges being dropped.

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?

If you’re facing DUI charges in Florida, you might want to know, “What is the cost of a DUI lawyer?” The short answer is that it depends. Your attorney’s fees can vary based on factors like the complexity of your case, the attorney’s experience, and the specifics of the charges you’re facing. Some lawyers use flat fee arrangements, which can start at a few thousand dollars for simpler cases and escalate for more involved ones. Others charge hourly, with rates ranging between $100 to $500 per hour or more, based on their reputation and experience level.

It’s important to ask your lawyer about their fees upfront. Many defense attorneys offer free initial consultations to discuss your case and give you an idea of what to expect cost-wise. Investing in a skilled DUI lawyer can save you money in the long run, as they can help you avoid the worst penalties, fines, and potential job loss from a DUI conviction.