Have You Been Involved with A DUI Charge?
Nov. 23, 2016
If you have been involved with a DUI Charge then you should definitely think about an attorney who knows Florida DUI Law very well because they can help you:
Make an informed decision about whether or not to plead guilty
Help negotiate the best plea deal
Help negotiate sentencing (especially in Florida where the laws are very broad)
This post describes the various ways a DUI attorney can help you.
1. A DUI Attorney Will Help Evaluate Your Case (and the Case Against You).
Each case is different, and even if the police have said you’re absolutely going to be convicted, that might not be the case.
As the person being charged, it’s extremely stressful and can be hard to know the right thing to do.
A DUI attorney can help you by outlining your options and offering a professional opinion about how strong the case is that’s being built against you.
For example, one factor is what blood alcohol content (BAC) you blew. In Florida, there are different criminal levels depending on how old you are and what type of license you have.
What’s more, depending on whether your BAC was a little over or a lot over can also play a role. Essentially, there’s a sliding scale of DUI culpability.
For example, if you’re only slightly over, a DUI attorney can argue that you might not be guilty, but rather the test was inaccurate. This is a particular problem for breathalyzers, which are extremely common but far from extremely accurate.
2. A DUI Lawyer Can Help Create Reasonable Doubt.
Many DUI cases don’t actually include a huge amount of solid, scientific evidence. For example, it’s hard to argue against a high BAC result from a blood test – but many cases don’t include that sort of evidence. Even in those circumstances, a DUI lawyer can help you by asking the questions that are going to ensure that the blood testing convicting you is accurate.
How much time passed between the blood test and the initial arrest?
How much time passed between the blood draw and the blood test?
Is there any possibility of contamination?
And in cases without a blood test to verify BAC, prosecutors rely on the testimony of the arresting officer and shakier scientific evidence of a high BAC result via a breathalyzer.
Without a lawyer to present strong counter-arguments, these are usually enough for a judge to convict.
However, a good lawyer will work to create reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind, to either fight the conviction entirely or lessen the severity of the sentence.
3. A DUI Attorney Can Help Negotiate a Plea Bargain.
Because a DUI can be hard to prove absolutely, many cases (especially first convictions at a low BAC) end in a plea bargain.
Basically, your lawyer negotiates to get the charges dropped to something less severe (e.g., from a DUI to reckless driving) and you are charged with the lesser crime.
This means that:
Your record stays cleaner.
The punishment is lighter.
You usually get to keep your license or get it back sooner (which is essential in a state like Florida, where a car is critical).
4. A DUI Attorney Can Help Negotiate Your Sentencing.
While the above circumstance is great for those who are offered a plea bargain, the reality is that increasingly, the consequences of a DUI/DWI charge is a conviction. That’s because all the states, including Florida, have now passed what amount to mandatory minimums for drunk driving offenses.
Basically, if your BAC (and they can prove your BAC test was conducted accurately) is above 0.08, then you’re going to be convicted.
However, there’s still the sentencing. Judges can take into account extenuating circumstances and have been known to deliver gentler sentences (particularly for first-time convictions).
5. An Attorney Knows the Court System.
No matter how many times you read up on DUI law yourself, an attorney is going to be a tremendous asset.
Because an attorney has both formal and informal knowledge of the court system.
What we mean is that a DUI attorney will bring all their significant professional knowledge to bear on your case, including knowledge of the administrative functions of the law, previous case histories, and their own experience as well as their informal knowledge of the local courts. For example, most defense lawyers will know the prosecutors, judges and other court officials personally, and can argue a more compelling case on your behalf because of it.
6. A DUI Attorney Can Help if It Isn’t Your First Offense
DUI rules are structured to get worse over time. On your first offense, you get a light punishment and they get worse from there. If you are caught drinking and driving four times and are convicted, that’s a felony, which means you can spend a LOT of time in jail specifically, a felony DUI with Injury or DUI Manslaughter may lead to a serious time in prison.
So if this isn’t your first rodeo, we strongly recommend you get a lawyer.
For all the reasons outlined above – because you’re now facing more serious punishment for your crimes; it’s even more important to work to have someone on your side arguing your case.
Remember, that if you’re convicted of a felony, you will lose many of your civil rights like the right to vote and the right to own a gun, and will likely be without a car for several years.
7. A DUI Lawyer Can Make Sure the Arrest Was Lawful.
There are plenty of cases where someone has been pulled over by the police, blown more than 0.08, and convicted of drunk driving – when in fact, the original pulling over wasn’t entirely lawful.
Police officers need a reason to pull you over; they need to ensure that you are read your rights with regards to the DUI and you understand them, and they need to read you your Miranda rights.
If these things don’t happen, there is room to get the case thrown out or at the very least bargained down to a lesser sentence.
DUI arrests and convictions are situations that need to be dealt with quickly.
From the initial administrative meeting with the DMV right up to a potential trial, you’ll be fighting every step of the way.
The best thing you can do to help your case and keep your life on track is to get a lawyer who has years’ experience in fighting DUI cases and will be in your corner to navigate the process and get the best possible deal for you.