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Boca Raton Legal Blog

Criminal convictions don't have to dog you forever

How many of us would like a do-over for some aspect of our lives? Or at least the chance to stop worrying about having a mistake from the past come back to bite us? When it comes to a criminal conviction in Florida, there are circumstances that could allow you to essentially set aside a criminal conviction.

In this process, known as expungement, your conviction is essentially sealed off from public view. While certain law enforcement agencies could still examine it -- based on very specific circumstances -- for all intents and purposes, your record won't reflect your conviction.

What are the penalties for a first-time DUI in Florida?

It's a mistake many people make: getting behind the wheel after a few too many drinks. Because driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cause serious injury or deaths, the law around DUI offenses is strict in Florida. Penalties can be harsh, even for a first-time offender. Even if it does not include jail time, it could impact your driver's license and cost you hefty fees.

Besides a likely overnight stay in jail after your arrest, most of the time a first DUI does not involve jail time as a penalty. Here are the penalties a first-time offender could be facing after a DUI arrest in Florida:

Refusing a breath test has consequences too

Driving after having a drink is not a crime. You can be charged with a crime when the alcohol has "impaired" your ability to drive. Since you are a responsible person, you are always careful about how many drinks you have at a restaurant, a bar or a friend's house so you can get home safe.

Of course, the legal line between impaired and not impaired is not always clear. The legal limit in Florida is .08 percent. That "limit" is the point in which you can be charged with a per se offense, but you can still get into trouble with a lower blood alcohol concentration. Even if the officer sticks to the .08 guide, it is always your "best guess" as to whether you will blow a .79 BAC, .08 BAC or .81 BAC on the breath test.

Can felons vote for Trump?

Or, for that matter, can they vote for Clinton? In Florida, the answer may be "no."

In 2011, the Florida Board of Executive Clemency (which included Governor Rick Scott) tightened the rules of clemency for ex-offenders and implemented a new policy that requires ex-felons to wait five to seven years before applying to regain their voting rights.

Five surefire ways to get out of a DUI - Not!

We've all heard anecdotal tales on how to get out of a DUI. Whether it was a friend at the country club or a business associate at conference, everyone has their theory on how to beat the system, fool the police and trick the machines.

Unfortunately, none of these easy-outs are true. Let's debunk five of these "surefire" ways to avoid a DUI arrest:

Legal assistance could save your life

Make no mistake: being accused of a violent crime such as homicide is always a serious issue no matter where you are or in what circumstances you find yourself. No matter how safe you may think you are, if the police place you under arrest, it is because they believe that you might be guilty of the crime, and they will do all that they can to convict you. It is advisable that you seek legal assistance as soon as you learn you are a suspect.

Breathalyzing yourself: Is it the answer to the DUI problem?

In a December 31, 2014 article for the Atlantic, the president and founder of BACtrack, a personal breath test company, likened the drunk driving problem in the United States to driving a car without a speedometer. If speedometers help us to avoid speeding tickets, why don't we have a tool to help us avoid drunk driving arrests? It was on this question that Keith Nothacker founded his company.

For many people in present society, there is a negative stigma associated with personal breath tests due in part to ignition interlock devices. Like a speedometer, ignition interlock devices are designed to tell you when you are breaking the law, thereby preventing you from doing so. But these devices are only installed after a conviction, making them useless to those who are actively trying to avoid this outcome. 

How do I get my criminal record expunged?

People make mistakes. It's a fact of life that a lot of us have just come to expect. But when those mistakes lead to criminal convictions, it's difficult to ignore what's happen. And in most cases, your criminal record won't let you forget either.

As we explained in a blog post last year, criminal convictions can affect your life in devastating ways. They can prevent you from getting a new job, a loan through a bank or financial institution, and in some cases, a conviction may even prevent you from getting accepted to a college or university. It's for these reasons and more that you may want to consider getting your criminal record expunged.

Defending accused individuals beyond Florida law

Every state has its own laws for every crime, and while many of these laws are similar, there are slight differences not only in the law but in the public perception and precedents regarding the laws. For this reason, it is extremely important to enlist the aid of an attorney who is familiar with cases in your area that are similar to yours. That's because it increases the chances that your legal advisor will be able to tailor your specific circumstances to your state laws.

Drunk driving is not the same as speeding

Typically, when a police officer pulls you over in your car, the worst you can expect is some kind of traffic violation. It may be annoying or embarrassing to have to pay for that speeding ticket or take a defensive driving course, but the long-term ramifications of the incident are minor or nonexistent. Because of this, some people are not concerned when a police officer pulls them over and questions their level of sobriety.

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