Unlike most criminal cases, DUI cases seem to affect the broadest demographic of clients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, over 1.1 million Americans were arrested for DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI, there are some things that you need to know.
In the State of Florida, an arrest for a DUI will not only result in a criminal charge, it will also result in an Administrative Suspension of your driving privileges through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) if you refused to provide and blood, breath, or urine sample, or if you provided a breath test in excess of the legal limit.
As frightening as the prospect of having to appear before a Judge to answer to the DUI charge might be, your first concern should be in regards to your driving privileges. You only have 10-days from the date of your arrest to either apply for a hardship license or to file an Application for a Formal Review Hearing.
If this is your first time being arrested for DUI, you can register for the DUI Counter Attack School through the Florida Safety Council. Once you register for the class, you will be able to take the certificate of registration to the DMV and petition for a hardship hearing.
The second option is to file an Application for a Formal Review Hearing. At the time of filing of the application, the DMV will provide you with a temporary driving permit that will have an expiration date approximately 42 days from the date of issuance. You will then receive a Notice from the DMV advising you of the date and time of the Formal Review Hearing. Following the hearing, the hearing officer will make a formal finding whether to sustain or overturn the suspension of your driving privileges.
Now that you have taken care of your license, you will need to focus on the criminal matter. The Clerk of Court in the County in which you were arrested will send you a Notice scheduling an Arraignment. At your arraignment, the Judge will advise you of the potential sanctions that could be imposed and give you an opportunity to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, the court will immediately move onto sentencing and you will be sentenced. For a list of possible penalties, please visit: http://www.zlawfirmfl.com/dui-penalties.html.
If you plead not guilty at your arraignment, the court will schedule you for a Pre-Trial Conference. The Pre-Trial Conference is where defense attorneys and prosecutors discuss cases in an effort to reach a resolution. If you are unrepresented, the Prosecutor will likely make an offer that you can accept or reject. Prosecutors will not negotiate with you if you are unrepresented.
If you maintain your plea of not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a jury trial. At trial, you will have an opportunity to participate in the jury selection process and six jurors will listen to the testimony and render a judgment.
This is a roadmap of how a DUI case works. However, the process is truly far more complex. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will tell you that DUI Defense is one of the most complex areas of criminal defense. It would greatly benefit you to speak with an experienced DUI Lawyer before you begin to navigate your way through your case.
An experienced DUI Lawyer will advise you of what option is best for you to select when it comes to reinstating your driving privileges. The Administrative Review Hearing system is tilted heavily in favor of the State and should not be handled by someone who is not well-versed in DUI law.
Having an attorney review your case may also result in the possibility of finding issues that can be litigated in pre-trial hearings. An experienced DUI Lawyer will be able to utilize the arresting officer’s mistakes to his client’s benefit. Many times these hearings can result in the charges being reduced or dismissed.
So, if you have been arrested for a DUI, call and speak with an experienced DUI Lawyer who can advise you of your rights, answer your questions, provide you with a framework for how they plan to fight the case, and discuss possible outcomes. Having an experienced DUI Lawyer working for you can make the difference in the outcome of your case.