Getting charged with any kind of DUI can have lasting effects, from social stigma to losing your driver’s license. You shouldn’t have to handle this situation alone.

Attorney Erika Valcarcel has years of experience in court and has helped countless clients with their DUI charges. She can help you work towards getting charges dropped or reduced, or she might be able to negotiate a plea deal that saves you from extreme penalties.

Call (941) 363-7900 to get your defense started with a free consultation.

Florida DUI Laws

Florida Statute §316.193 defines a DUI as driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol, a harmful chemical substance, or a controlled substance to the extent that it impairs a person’s normal faculties; or
  • Having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08% or more.

You can still be arrested even if the vehicle isn’t moving. You are still “in charge” of the vehicle if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition while over the legal limit. You could be charged while under the legal blood alcohol limit if you’re not driving safely, or if you’re impaired by drugs like marijuana, methamphetamines, or prescription drugs.

The Legal Limit in Sarasota

Under Florida’s DUI laws, different groups will have different BAL standards: if anyone exceeds them, they are breaking the law.
Florida’s BAL limits are:

  • For 21 years and over: If you are legally allowed to drink, the legal limit is 0.08%. You can be charged with a DUI without being at or over the legal BAL limit.
  • For CDL drivers: Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard. If you have your commercial driver’s license and are in a commercial vehicle at the time of the stop, your legal limit is 0.04%.
  • For underage drivers: If you are not yet 21 years old at the time of the DUI stop, you should not have any alcohol in your system. It is illegal for you to drink any alcohol. You will face a citation or criminal charges if your BAL is 0.02% or higher.

Sarasota DUI Charges

Our Sarasota DUI attorneys can represent you in a wide range of DUI charges in Florida.

First DUI

If you have been arrested for your first DUI ever, or a previous DUI conviction was more than five years ago, then you may face first-time DUI charges. The exact penalty for your first DUI will depend on your BAL at the time of arrest. You could face up to a year in jail.

Second DUI

If you are arrested for a second DUI within five years of your first conviction, you will face second DUI charges. You’ll face harsher punishments. You could be in jail for a year and face higher fines than you had in your first DUI offense.

Felony DUI

In certain circumstances, a DUI in Sarasota is charged as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. You may be charged with a felony DUI if this is your third DUI offense within a 10-year period or if you cause someone serious harm in a DUI accident. If convicted, you could be sentenced up to five years in prison.

Underage DUI

If you are under 21 years old and have a BAL of 0.02% or higher when you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle, then you can face a DUI citation. For an underage DUI citation, you can be punished with a number of civil penalties. However, if you have a BAL of 0.08% or higher, you are likely to face DUI criminal charges and harsher penalties.


If you are a commercial driver and were arrested with BAL of 0.04% or higher, you face misdemeanor charges. As penalties for a CDL DUI you could lose your CDL for at least one year, and you could be fined or jailed.

Out-of-State DUI

If you were visiting Florida and you were charged with a DUI, you cannot ignore it. You are going to need a local DUI lawyer to handle your case. Attorney Erika Valcarcel can represent you even if you leave the state.

DUI on a Boat

It is also illegal to drink while driving a boat. If you are operating a boat, you face the same legal limit as for driving cars. You cannot have a BAL of 0.08% or higher or be impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both. If you own the boat, then you can be held responsible by the police if they can’t tell whose driving it.

Driving While High

It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, even prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, if they cause you to be impaired. If you are found to have drugs in your system while driving, you may face charges under the same DUI statutes.

DUI Manslaughter

Drunk driving significantly increases the risk of DUI car accidents. If you caused a crash while intoxicated and someone was killed in that crash, then you may be charged with DUI manslaughter. This is a felony, and you face between 10 and 15 years in prison.

Penalties for Florida DUI Offenses

When you’ve been convicted of a DUI offense in Florida, you face harsh penalties and severe long-term effects. Some consequences you might experience include:

  • Time spent in jail or prison.
  • Expensive fines and court fees.
  • Probation.
  • Getting your vehicle impounded.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • A requirement to complete alcohol abuse treatment.
  • Counseling, alcohol testing, community supervision, and case management.
  • Loss of your driver’s license.
  • Difficulty getting or keeping a professional license.
  • Challenges to finding or keeping a job.
  • Loss of custody of your children or visitation rights.
  • Loss of your immigration visa or green card, denial of your citizenship application, and/or deportation, if you aren’t a US citizen.

Alternative DUI Sentencing

If you are charged with a DUI, do not freak out and assume you are going to jail. There are many ways to avoid jail time if you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense. Instead of incarceration, you might be sentenced with fines, community service, or other alternatives. If you are eligible for the Sarasota DUI Court, this is also a program that can minimize the amount of time spent in jail. To learn more about avoiding incarceration for a DUI, call Erika Valcarcel.

Defenses Against A Florida DUI Offense

Even if it seems pointless, there are options to consider if you’re pursuing a defense against your DUI offenses. You aren’t working to prove your innocence. Instead, your defense lawyer is trying to introduce doubt about the prosecutor’s version of events. If you can make the jury doubt that you were illegally in control of a vehicle while impaired, you have a chance at avoiding charges.

Your attorney can review your case to determine the best possible way to proceed. They’ll look for ways to get the charges dropped or reduced, or they may consider fighting for a negotiated plea deal.

Your attorney could question the facts of your arrest. Were you really in control of the vehicle? Did the police have a reason to stop you? Were the sobriety tests conducted correctly? Your defense lawyer will ask these questions and more. They might even argue that the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to convict you, or that they’ve accused the wrong person.

"Valcarcel is the best you will find."

Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is the best you will find. Erika Valcarcel is completely honest and straightforward. She took a huge burden off my shoulders many times during difficult periods of my life knowing that she was doing everything that that could and should be done. Her knowledge is extensive and her advice has always been right on the mark. She is worth every penny of the fee she charges. You cannot go wrong securing her services.

Google Reviews logo

Joni A.

Why You Need a Sarasota DUI Defense Attorney

When you’re hiring a criminal defense attorney, you need to consider that you are trusting someone with your future. You need to hire a lawyer that knows the law and empathizes with your situation. Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., we know it might seem like a simple matter to defend yourself against DUI charges.
You want a defense attorney that listens to your story and hears your needs. They should be someone who will review the facts of the case and make recommendations, not demands, on how you should handle your defense. They’ll be the person who communicates with law enforcement agents and court representatives so you don’t get into more trouble.
Your defense lawyer will be someone with experience in Florida. They will know how to fight the charges you’re facing. By hiring a Sarasota DUI attorney, you gain someone who is highly experienced in fighting DUIs and someone who can be objective when fighting for you in court.

Finding the Right DUI Defense Lawyer in Sarasota

There is no doubt that there are many attorneys to choose from when selecting a Sarasota DUI lawyer. Nevertheless, hiring a legal professional to handle your DUI case is a very serious one. You should be checking that they have:

  • Specific DUI Experience – It goes without saying that if you are facing a criminal charge, you should seek out a criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing DUI charges, make sure to find a lawyer that has specific experience handling DUI-related matters.
  • Strong Legal Team – In court, you will have one legal representative. However, there is a support team that comprises of investigators, researchers, and paralegal professionals who are important to the preparation of your DUI case. Find a lawyer with a capable team.
  • A Strong Courtroom Advocacy – Not all DUI matters will go to trial. But if yours does, having a trial-ready lawyer is essential. You need to find an attorney who can convey your innocence and understands the legal system.

The financial cost of hiring a lawyer is always at the forefront of a defendant’s mind. Indeed, you should also consider an attorney that offers affordable rates and options for payment. But in addition to that, the above factors are useful in making the right decision.

A Sarasota DUI Attorney Is Here to Help

When you’re facing DUI charges in Florida, you’re facing repercussions that can affect your life after a conviction. It is hard to know where to turn. Consider attorney Erika Valcarcel. She has the specific experience you want in a DUI defense attorney. She has been handling DUI accident cases for years. She also has taken many of these cases to trial and is prepared to aggressively defend you in court.
Contact Sarasota DUI lawyer Erika Valcarcel with Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your case.