DUI Cases in Hernando County, FL

The Traffic Unit of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office conducts roadside investigations to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If the officer suspects alcohol intoxication or drug impairment, the officer will begin a criminal investigation for DUI by asking the person to exit their vehicle. The person will be asked to participate in field sobriety exercises.

When a DUI arrest is made, the officer almost always reports the same “clues of impairment,” alleging the odor of an alcoholic beverage, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, swaying, and unsteadiness.

After the arrest, the officer will usually ask for a breath test. Then the person will be booked into the Hernando County Detention Center in Brooksville, FL, to serve at least eight (8) hours in custody before being released on bond.

If the officer suspects impairment from controlled substances, the officer might request a urine test.

Anyone brought to the hospital after a DUI arrest or crash might be subjected to a blood test. A person who submits to a breath or urine test also has the right to request an independent blood test.

Other local law enforcement agencies that conduct DUI investigations in Hernando County, FL, include the Florida Highway Patrol.

All misdemeanor DUI cases are assigned to the Honorable Kurt Hitzeman, County Court Judge of Hernando County. Felony DUI cases involving a third or fourth DUI, DUI with serious bodily injury, or DUI manslaughter are assigned to the Honorable Daniel B. Merritt, Jr., or the Honorable Stephen E. Toner, Jr., Circuit Court Judges for Hernando County.

If you were arrested for DUI, you need an attorney focused on defending these complicated cases.

DUI Attorney for Hernando County, FL

If you have been arrested for drunk driving (DUI) in Hernando County, FL, contact us today to discuss your case.

During your initial consultation, we can discuss the facts of your case, explain the possible punishments and other consequences of a DUI conviction, and develop a strategy to fight the charges against you in Brooksville, Hernando County, FL.

Our attorneys are familiar with the tactics used by DUI enforcement officers in the local agencies in this area, including the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Call 813-250-0500.

Recent DUI Case Results in Hernando County, FL

On May 21, 2021, the Assistant State Attorney in Hernando County, FL, filed a “nolle prosequi” that terminated the prosecution for DUI manslaughter, the only charge pending against our client.

The case involved a two-vehicle crash with a fatality in October 2018. The charge was dropped the week before we scheduled a motion hearing to suppress the following evidence:

  • our client’s medical records that were improperly provided to the State Attorney’s Office; 
  • vials of medical blood seized from the hospital after the execution of a search warrant; and
  • the FDLE blood test results with a BAC over the legal limit.

The State Attorney’s Office did provide notice of intent to subpoena our client’s medical records in Hernando County. We entered a timely objection that triggered a Hunter hearing. On November 14, 2018, a hearing was held under Hunter v. State, 639 So.2d 74 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994) on the State’s Motion for Authorization to Execute the Subpoena for the medical records.

After hearing arguments from the Assistant State Attorney and the defense, the State’s motion was denied. Despite losing the Hunter hearing, the State Attorney’s Office nevertheless provided us with a copy of our client’s medical records in discovery.

Our motion alleged that our client’s medical records were improperly obtained and provided to the State Attorney’s Office without any legal authority.

Our motion also moved to suppress vials of medical blood seized with a search warrant that contained material misrepresentations and intentionally omitted material facts. Our motion for a Franks hearing also alleged a failure to follow proper procedures for the chain of custody and storage of the blood.

Instead of going forward with the motion hearing, the Assistant State Attorney entered a “nolle prosequi” right before the motion hearing began.

10 Days to Demand a Formal Review Hearing

Remember that you only have ten (10) days after your arrest to file a request for a formal review hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

If you fail to do so, you will not have any opportunity to invalidate the suspension of your driver’s license for at least six (6) months for a breath test reading over the legal limit of 0.08 or for at least one year for an alleged refusal to submit to the test.

If your driver’s license is administratively suspended in Hernando County, Florida, you may be able to apply for a hardship license after serving out any “hard suspension” period.

During the hard suspension, you cannot drive for any reason.

If you took the breath test and blew over the legal limit, a 30-day hard suspension will be imposed for a first DUI. If you refuse to take the breath test, the refusal will trigger a 12 month suspension for a first refusal or an 18 month suspension for a second or subsequent refusal.

After July 1, 2013, a first-time offender can apply for a waiver review hearing to reinstate hardship privileges immediately.  The immediate reinstatement might allow you to avoid the 30-day hard suspension for a breath test case or a 90-day hard suspension for a refusal case.

However, if you apply for immediate reinstatement, you must waive your right to contest the administrative suspension during a formal review hearing.

The new rules that took effect on July 1, 2013, also resulted in more people winning administrative suspension hearings. You automatically win if the arresting officer or breath test operator fails to appear at the hearing.

Even if everyone shows up to the hearing, there are many other reasons why you might prevail in invalidating the administrative suspension.

Challenging the Administrative Suspension with a Formal Review Hearing

Hiring an attorney early in the process allows you to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.

At the formal review hearing, your attorney can subpoena all law enforcement officers involved in your arrest. Other witnesses, including the breath test technician and civilian witnesses, can also be forced to testify.

Your DUI attorney for Hernando County can also subpoena records related to the officer’s training and calibration of the breath machine.

Additionally, your attorney can question these officers under oath to lock them into their testimony and explore defenses that can later be used at trial.

The testimony can later be used to prepare a motion to dismiss or motion to suppress evidence during your DUI trial in Hernando County, FL.

This formal review hearing is particularly important in misdemeanor DUI cases because your DUI attorney does not normally have the opportunity to take a deposition of the officers involved in your arrest before a motion hearing or trial.

For many, the formal review hearing is the most important part of the DUI case. The hearing takes place within 45 days of your arrest, so it is crucial to act quickly after a DUI arrest to preserve this avenue of attack.

Motions to Suppress and Motions to Dismiss the DUI

In many DUI cases where a viable motion can be filed, the best results occur after your attorney has filed a motion to suppress or exclude evidence or potentially a motion to dismiss.

Learn more about potential defenses that may apply to your DUI prosecution by contacting an experienced DUI lawyer who is experienced in fighting cases in Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida.

Many individuals arrested for DUI in Hernando County with a breath test reading over .08 believe that it is impossible to win at trial, particularly if they have a high blow over .15.

Many of these cases are reduced after putting up an aggressive fight to show that the test result reading is inaccurate. Our DUI attorneys take a scholarly approach to attack the Intoxilyzer 8000, the machine currently used in Hernando County.

We can file motions to obtain repair reports and maintenance records for the breath test machine used in your case. We conduct a complete audit of the machine to demonstrate problems with the accuracy and reliability of the machine used in your case.

Problems with Breath Testing at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office

Find out more about newly discovered evidence showing serious problems with the alcohol testing program at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

This scandal impacted DUI convictions between August 2010 and May 2011, which may be reversed after the abrupt resignation of Hernando County’s breath test operator and agency inspector.

Find out more about the former breath test operator’s status as an “independent contractor” with a confidentially clause written into her contract.

Additional Resources

Criminal Courts in Hernando County – Visit the website of Doug Chorvat Jr., Clerk of Court and Comptroller in Hernando County, FL, to find information on the criminal courts at the courthouse in Brooksville, FL. Learn more about tracking any felony or misdemeanor case by searching with the name or case number. Contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court to obtain the final disposition of any criminal charges in the county of Hernando.

Arrest and Jail Records from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office – Visit the website of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to find information on current inmates at the jail, as well as other arrest and booking information. Even if you immediately bond out of jail after a DUI arrest, you will still be held in custody for at least eight (8) hours. Florida law requires that all persons arrested for DUI / BUI must remain in custody for a minimum of 8 hours from the time of the arrest.

DUI School in Hernando County – The West Central Florida Driver Improvement, Inc. (WCFDI) is the only Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles licensed Driving Under the Influence Program within Hernando County. Since 1985, it has served the entire Fifth Judicial Circuit. You can begin the process for enrollment in DUI school online.

HCSO Traffic Unit for DUI Enforcement – The HCSO Traffic Unit includes ten (10) Traffic Deputies, a Traffic Public Service Technician, and a Sergeant. The goal of DUI enforcement efforts is to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities and injuries. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit will increase traffic enforcement efforts on several main roads throughout the county during 2018. During these traffic enforcement operations, officers will use marked and unmarked vehicles to conduct DUI and narcotics enforcement.

Finding Criminal Defense Lawyers for Brooksville, FL

Contact the Sammis Law Firm today to determine what steps you must take in the ten (10) days after your arrest.

We can help you fight for the best result in your Brooksville, FL, driving under the influence or drunk driving (DUI) case.

Find out how our criminal defense attorneys for Hernando County, FL, can help you fight the serious criminal charges pending against you,

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Thursday, April 20, 2023.