In prosecuting DUI cases, the State of Florida focuses on certain factors or clues to try and prove a person is DUI. There is no one factor that establishes a person is DUI, but rather law enforcement looks to observe and identify as many factors as possible when investigating a DUI. Some factors or clues are:
Driving: Did you swerve, drive erratically, cause an accident, fall asleep at the wheel, fail to stop at a stop sign, etc. The State will rely on driving indicators of impairment to try and build a DUI case against you.
Appearance and Behavior: Once stopped, the officer will examine how you looked, acted, and behaved. Do you have bloodshot and/or glassy eyes, slurred speech, and/or lethargic movements? Are you giving inappropriate answers? Do you look disheveled? An officer will note if the suspect can produce the necessary documents – driver’s license, proof of registration, and insurance in a timely and coordinated manner.
Statements: Nothing is more damaging to your defense than your own incriminating statements (i.e.admitting that you drank alcohol, the amount of alcohol you drank, and that you are impaired by the alcohol). YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. You do not need to answer the officer’s questions. Although, your silence may make the officer angry, it will protect you by not giving the officer and the prosecutor additional evidence to use against you later in Court.
Field Sobriety Exercises (FSE): If the officer suspects you of being DUI, you will be asked to perform the FSEs to “dispel” the officer’s opinion that you may be impaired. However, it is virtually impossible to successfully complete all the FSEs. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PERFORM THE FSEs. Although the officer will say that your refusal will be held against you in court, if you perform poorly this will have a devastating impact on your case.
The State of Florida presumes you are impaired if you blow over 0.08. However, even if you blow under this limit, you will NOT be un-arrested. You can be DUI even if you blow under the legal limit. Conversely, if you blow over the legal limit, you are not automatically guilty of DUI.
If you refuse to provide a breath sample, you limit the State’s evidence against you by not giving them a breath alcohol number to use against you in Court. However, if you refuse to provide a breath sample, the DHSMV will seek to suspend your driver’s license for up to one year for a first refusal or 18 months if you have previously refused.
There are certain minimum mandatory punishments for ALL FIRST TIME offenders convicted of DUI.
ADJUDICATION OF GUILT: This is a conviction for a misdemeanor DUI charge and cannot be sealed or expunged off your record.
TWELVE (12) MONTHS PROBATION, INCLUDING –
- pay a $500 fine
- pay approximately $480 in court costs
- complete DUI School: 12 hour in-person DUI class followed by an evaluation for alcohol and substance abuse and completing any recommended treatment
- perform 50 hours of community service.
- six (6) month Court ordered driving revocation, and
- a 10 day immobilization of your vehicle
If you complete the terms of your probation, you may ask the Court to terminate your probation earlier than the 12 month term.
The MAXIMUM penalty if convicted of DUI is up to 180 days in jail for a first offender, and if a crash occurred, up to 364 days in jail. If you have prior DUI convictions, or if your breath sample was over 0.15, you will face enhanced punishments.
Did the officer have a valid legal reason to pull you over?
- An officer can pull you over if you have violated a traffic law (speeding, red light, failure to maintain a single lane, careless driving, etc.)
- An officer can make a traffic stop if the officer observing your driving pattern, has a well founded suspicion that the driver is either ill, injured, impaired, or the car is having mechanical problems. An officer must be able to articulate what factors were present that justified the stop.
- At times, an officer can make a traffic stop based on an anonymous tip from a citizen.
Did the officer have sufficient reasonable suspicion to continue to detain the DUI suspect and ask them to perform FSEs?
This is a very fact specific argument. Andrew will have an in depth discussion with you, other witnesses, and review all the evidence – including the DUI video in order to ascertain whether law enforcement had reasonable suspicion to detain you.
Of course the goal in all criminal cases is to have the Court dismiss or the State nolle prosse (drop) the case. Andrew will explore these options and he will advocate for this resolution when appropriate. However, if the State will not drop the case, Andrew will try to convince the State to reduce the criminal DUI charge to a less serious charge of Reckless Driving. There are significant benefits to getting a DUI charge reduced to reckless driving including but not limited to lesser criminal punishments, no court ordered license suspensions, reduced court costs, and (possible) lower insurance ramifications.
Even if Andrew convinces the State to reduce the DUI charge to a lesser Reckless Driving charge, it does NOT mean you must accept the offer. Andrew will meet with you and carefully discuss your available options and what is in your best interests for both the short and long term. He will go over the State’s offer, the consequences of rejecting the offer, the likelihood of success at trial, as well as other alternatives. Ultimately, after hearing Andrew’s expert advice, YOU will make the decision on how to proceed with your case.
If you are Eligible, the following is the process to obtain an immediate hardship license:
Attorney’s fees can be awarded in divorce, paternity, support, modification, and post-judgment matters.
A party can petition the Court to have attorney’s fees paid by the other party. Among the factors the Court will consider is the financial resources of both parties. In general, the greater the financial disparity amongst the parties, the more likely it is the Court will award to the less financially fortunate party attorney’s fees.
In Florida, a person who pleads guilty or no-contest t