DUI

Overview

DUI is in fact a criminal offense and anyone can be arrested for it. U.S. Presidents, captains of industry, government officials, police officers, celebrities, military people, the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed, the people with no criminal records and the people with long criminal records, the religious and the non religious -- this criminal offense plays no favorites.

Pre-Trial Release

Once arrested for DUI, it is mandatory that the police officer take you to jail where you will stay a minimum of eight (8) hours. In Palm Beach County, citizens arrested for non-aggravated DUIs are in most instances released within eight (8) hours and are released OR (on their own recognizance). However, Broward and Dade Counties are quite different in that they require that a bond be posted and this usually results in the jail stay extending beyond eight (8) hours.

Blowing into the Breathalyzer vs. Refusing to Blow

Once arrested, the citizen will be asked to be submit to a breathalyzer test. He or she will be told that a refusal to submit will result in the suspension of his or her driving privilege for a period of six (6) months for a first refusal and for eighteen (18) months if the citizen has previously refused a breathalyzer test. If the citizen does in fact blow and blows over a .08, the citizen's driver license will be suspended for a period of six (6) months. Many citizens confronted with this choice want to blow to avoid the longer suspension but this decision can result in the State obtaining chemical/scientific evidence of impairment. The citizen will really want to submit to the breathalyzer but should not unless he or she has had very little or nothing to drink and is therefore very confident that the results will be under the legal limit. Even though the suspension is longer for refusing, a refusal is the way to go unless you are almost certain you will blow under a .08. And remember, whatever the length of the suspension, we can challenge the suspension at a Formal Review Hearing and even if we do not prevail, we can often obtain a Business Purposes License for you that will enable you to drive with some restrictions for a substantial part of the suspension period.

Contesting the Driver License Suspension

A citizen has ten (10) days from the date of the DUI arrest to challenge the driver license suspension. The DUI citation that was issued to the citizen serves as a temporary permit during this ten (10) challenge period. The ten (10) day deadline on challenging the suspension is a strict one and failure to timely comply means that on the eleventh day the citizen must be completely off the road. We handle this process as well as the Court process -- two (2) completely separate matters -- as part of or DUI representation. We file a written document contesting the suspension, request what is called a Formal Review Hearing, and pay the fee associated therewith. A hearing is set within about thirty (30) days of our request and we obtain a driving permit allowing the client to drive until twelve (12) days after that Hearing. If we win the Hearing, the client gets his or her license back and never misses a day of driving. If we do not prevail, the so called hard time of no driving whatsoever begins (again twelve (12) days after the Hearing) and the hard time lasts for thirty (30) days if the client submitted to the breathalyzer and ninety (90) days if the client did not submit. Once the hard time ends, even though the client would remain suspended, we obtain a Business Purposes Only License for the client allowing him or her to drive for the remainder of the suspension period for work, medical, religious, school, and necessity purposes.

The Court Case

We have handled over 1,000 DUI cases throughout South Florida and are ready, willing and able to go to Court and actually go to Trial on your case if necessary. To start off, we will promptly file a Not Guilty Plea and request all of the evidence that the State has compiled including all police reports and the videotape. We will then attend several Court Hearings at which you need not be present. Generally speaking, the longer the case extends the better it is for the accused because evidence and memories get stale and witness attendance problems can come about. We will thoroughly review the evidence and file any and all Motions to Suppress and/or Exclude any Evidence that was not legally obtained. In the end, your case will either be thrown out, pled out, or will go to Trial. Most trials are before Juries because it would take a unanimous six (6) person Jury to find you guilty rather than a Non-Jury Trial which involves the verdict of just one (1) Judge. However, this firm has vastly experienced lawyers who know all the Judges and their tendencies and in some instances we recommend Non-Jury Trials because we think it is in the client's best interests.

DUI Penalties

The absolute minimum penalty for a plea to a first DUI involves six (6) months probation, a six (6) additional month driver license suspension, fifty (50) hours of community service, the completion of DUI School and any recommended treatment, a one (1) night course regarding Victim Impact, the ten (10) day immobilization of your vehicle, and standard fines and court costs. Many Judges are prone to impose random drug and alcohol testing via urinalysis. If you have any prior DUI(s) and/or if you blow over a .15 and/or if there is property damage or injury to another, the minimum penalties increase as do the maximums. And, there are no Withheld Adjudications on DUI so any conviction for same is on your record for life. Never mind the fact that the Court can also order Jail, House Arrest, In-Patient Treatment, Out Patient Treatment, AA Meetings, Ignition Interlock (need to blow into machine installed in your vehicle prior to starting the ignition), etc. etc. Here are some of the Minimum Mandatory Sentencing requirements if a citizen is convicted of DUI.

  • 1st Ever DUI with no Enhancing Factors - Misdemeanor Conviction, six (6) months of probation, and a six (6) month driver license suspension

  • 2nd DUI within Five Years of First DUI - Misdemeanor Conviction, minimum of ten (10) days jail, and a mandatory five (5) year driver license revocation

  • 3rd DUI Within Ten (10) Years of any Prior DUI - Misdemeanor Conviction, minimum of thirty (30) days in jail and a mandatory ten (10) year driver revocation

  • 4th DUI - Felony Conviction and lifetime driver license revocation.
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