Sarasota DUI lawyer Erika Valcarcel understands how difficult it can be to face a DUI conviction. In addition to criminal penalties, such as jail time and community service, you must face administrative consequences that impose heavy limitations to your driving privileges. License suspension periods for first-time offenders can range from 180 days to one year, and there are fees associated with your license being reinstated. Once your suspension period has ended, you also have to worry about FR-44 insurance requirements. Understanding the ins and outs of this coverage can help you avoid additional penalties.
Insurance Requirements after a DUI
There is a high likelihood of license suspension or revocation when a person is found guilty of driving under the influence, even if penalties such as jail time and probation are not assigned. Once this period has ended, there is a requirement to obtain enhanced insurance coverage before driving privileges can be reinstated. This specialized form of coverage, known as FR-44 insurance, involves increased limits for bodily injury and property damage liability. More specifically, these insurance amounts must equal at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident, and $50,000 for property damage liability. According to state law, this coverage must be in place for at least three years after a conviction has been reached.
Although commonly used to refer to elevated coverage requirements, FR-44 is the name of a form. Commonly known as a Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR), this document is provided by your insurance company once liability insurance has been purchased. It acts as proof that you are adhering to the legal requirement of obtaining increased coverage. In addition to providing you with a copy, your insurance company will submit an FR-44 form to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). It is important to check with your provider to ensure this requirement has been met.
Consequences for Failing to Comply
If for some reason your CFR is not received, or if you do not maintain coverage for at least three years, you may have your license suspended once again. In order to reinstate your driving privileges, you will have to pay a fee that is equal to either $150 or $500. It is for this reason that it is essential to make your insurance payments on time when you are under the restrictions of an FR-44. One way to avoid having your insurance canceled or suspended is to set up automatic or online payments from your bank account. It might also be useful to sign up to for electronic bill notifications.
Defenses Against a DUI
It might come as no surprise that FR-44 insurance will increase your monthly premium. The best way to avoid this added cost is not being convicted of a DUI in court. While it may seem hopeless if you have been arrested and charged, there are ways you can regain your freedom. For example, hiring a skilled DUI attorney from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. can be instrumental in getting your charges reduced or eliminated. We will evaluate the circumstances surrounding your case and select the most promising defense.
Strategies that are often used in DUI cases may involve the following:
- Police Misconduct – In some DUI stops, police may engage in behaviors that disregard civil liberties. Perhaps you were physically abused, or maybe police conducted a search of your vehicle without a warrant. Police officers can be held accountable for their actions in court.
- Breathalyzer Malfunction – Many breathalyzer devices, such as those that rely on infrared spectroscopy, need to be maintained on a weekly basis. If they are left to sit for too long, they can produce faulty results that indicate a BAC above the legal limit of .08 percent.
- Lack of Probable Cause – Even when pulling you over, police are required to have some reason to suspect that a crime is being committed. While many officers point to the smell of alcohol as justification for an arrest, countless situations have proven that this odor is present after just a sip of beer. Proving that your arrest was unjustified could be your ticket to freedom.
- Field Sobriety Tests – It may be possible for your lawyer to obtain a video of your arrest from the squad car’s camera. By analyzing this recording and comparing to the officer’s claims, it may be possible to prove that the field sobriety tests that you endured were invalid or unreliable.
Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. For Help
Dealing with complex legal procedures and crafting defenses may be the last thing on your mind if you have recently been charged with driving under the influence. Sarasota DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel can take charge in court. She will work tirelessly to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Do not give up your freedom without a fight. Call (941) 363-7900 for a free consultation.