When you get arrested for DUI, usually, you have two matters, the crime charged ( DUI) and the administrative suspension of your license by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Here are Five Things you need to know.
1.) You have ten days from your stop to request a Formal Review to contest the administrative action, the latter of the above two consequences mentioned above.
2.) You can prevail at this Formal review, and although it is a good indicator for future success at the DUI trial, it is not binding on it.
3.) Your license is immediately suspended at the time of your stop by DMV if you blow over a .08 (for six months), or if you refuse to blow(for one year).
4.) If you plead guilty to or are found guilty of DUI, the Judge has NO DISCRETION (or very little) as to the sentence, most of which is mandated by the Florida Legislature.
5.) The Formal review is an opportunity, perhaps the only one, for your lawyer to question the arresting officers under oath as to why they pulled you over and why they arrested you.
If you don't act in a timely manner you may not be able to bring the best case to the table. Follow these tips if you have been pulled over for DUI in Florida. They may just help you avoid a drunk driving charge.
In Florida, if you a police officer pulls you over and suspects you of drinking and driving, they will likely ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests. These are physical and mental tasks that the officer uses to determine whether or not you are intoxicated.
The most common field sobriety tests are:
The problem with field sobriety tests is that they are incredibly subjective. A person’s performance on these tests can be impacted by environmental conditions (if it’s really windy, it will be more difficult to balance on one leg), or a person may simply have poor balance.
One has the power but not the right to refuse to take these tests in Florida. While some think that the less evidence against you, the stronger the evidence for probable cause, the prosecution will always argue consciousness of guilt in all refusals.
In February of 2010, I tried the most exciting case of my 20 year career as a criminal defense attorney. Who ever said you don't learn anything in victory? Of course you do and it is distinctly sweeter-tasting than defeat.
The trial, a DUI with a breath test result of .084, (.004 over the legal limit of .08), lasted for two days, scaling the depths of tortuous tedium along the jagged pangs of constant worry to the surreal plateau of triumph, a destiny which was never assured and always in doubt.
My client had a prior DUI, which precluded the state from offering us a reckless driving plea, which often happens in a case with such low blows.
I was able to get the state's breath test machine expert to concede a 2 point margin of error in the machine and the state never really sought to rebut it.
I also argued to the jury that it was their job, not the role of the arresting officer, to grade my client's performance on the roadside sobriety tests such as the heel to toe and the one legged stand. It is always important to remind the jury that you do not necessarily need to be able to walk heel to toe in order to drive a car and there is usually plenty of evidence of non-impairment during these tests.
It is equally important to remind a jury that things such as fatigue (especially in an arrest done at three in the morning) may account for factors that the arresting officer just robotically checks off as a sure-fire sign of impairment.
My client testified and performed the tests flawlessly despite admitting that he actually had three beers, not the one he had insisted upon to the arresting officer.
It took the jury four hours, an unusually long period of time for deliberations in a misdemeanor case, to arrive at a verdict. They had a question at hour 2, were deadlocked at hour 3, and finally rendered a verdict of Not Guilty by the end of hour number 4.
Florida DUIs are difficult cases to win. The public seems inclined to believe in breath test results as well as the problem of drunk driving and their role as jurors to do something about it. In this case, a confluence of favorable factors, some planned, some variable, stuck and justice prevailed.
Joseph T. Hobson is a Criminal Defense attorney specializing in DUI charges in Clearwater, Florida.