For Those Arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Florida
7 Secrets that the DHSMV and the State Attorney’s Office do not want you to know!
- You do not have to lose your license!
- Cops make mistakes!
- A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI!
- In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)
- You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!
- A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial!
- You may have a very strong case!
1. You do not have to lose your license!
If the State Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor) and the DHSMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) are trying to convict you of DUI, you need to take quick action.
You should request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest!
Your license was suspended at the time of your arrest. However, if you request an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest with the DHSMV you may be eligible for a temporary “business-purpose only” license (BPO). With this temporary license you are able to go to work, to school, to church, and to get groceries.
We can schedule the hearing for you, attend the hearing with you, and help you get back on the road. What if it has been past 10 days?
You still may be able to get a business purpose only license. It must be your first DUI. If so, you will have to attend DUI School. You will then need to apply for a hardship license at an Administrative Reviews Office with the DHSMV. We can help you do this.
2. Cops make mistakes!
DUI law is extremely complicated. Case law (prior court rulings) has laid down the ground rules for how an officer must proceed in order to successfully build a case for DUI. For instance, an officer has to have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. An officer cannot stop you because he or she just feels like it. There must be a traffic violation or some evidence (such as weaving) to indicate that you were impaired. Cops make mistakes. Sometimes they pull people over without the necessary reasonable suspicion. Sometimes the stop is plain illegal.
What if I was in an accident? People get into accidents! An accident alone is not enough for an officer to begin a DUI investigation. There must be other evidence of intoxication.
The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. have extensive experience recognizing illegal stops and illegal DUI arrests. Call us now to set up a free DUI consultation and case analysis.
3. A cop must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
A traffic violation or weaving may be enough for an officer to stop your car, but it does not necessarily mean that it is enough for an officer to arrest you for DUI. An officer must have probable cause (PC). A mere hunch that someone may be intoxicated is not enough.
You would be surprised at how many times people are arrested for DUI without the necessary probable cause.
Just because a cop thinks that you’re under the influence does not mean that the judge will agree. Judges in countless other DUI cases have laid down the ground rules for what constitutes the necessary DUI probable cause. If you were arrested without PC then your arrest was illegal and everything that took place after the arrest can be suppressed-the prosecutor will not be able to use it against you.
If you were arrested without probable cause, the prosecutor has serious problems! We will file all the necessary motions and if the judge agrees that there was no PC, your case may be dismissed.
4. In Florida you can be charged with DUI when you were not even driving! (But you have to be in “actual physical control” to be convicted.)
Believe it or not, Florida law allows officers to charge someone with driving under the influence when that person was not even driving! The state then has to prove that you were in what’s called “actual physical control” of the vehicle. Like PC, this is very fact intensive- this will usually depend upon where you were seated in the car and where the keys were.
If an officer did not see you driving the car, and you were arrested, it may have been an illegal arrest! Officers need to observe every element of the alleged crime if it was a misdemeanor (most DUI’s are misdemeanors) in order to be able to legally arrest you.
If you were illegally arrested, then everything that happened after the arrest (including all officer observations and statements) may be suppressed!
5. You do not have to accept the prosecutor’s first plea offer!
Your first court date is called an arraignment. This is usually scheduled about 10-30 days after your arrest. The prosecutor will usually make the first offer to you at this time. You probably should not take it! The prosecutor has likely done little to no investigation on your case. They often take the officer’s word for it that you were intoxicated. If you accept the prosecutor’s offer (what’s called “pleaing”) at this time you may be pleaing to a case that the prosecutor cannot prove!
At your arraignment, if you do not want to accept the prosecutor’s offer, enter a plea of “not guilty.” You are not punished for doing this. You are exercising a constitutional right. In fact, you may very well not be guilty. If you plea “not guilty” at arraignment you will be given another court date called a pre-trial conference. You want to hire an attorney before your pre-trial conference. Some judges only allow one pre-trial conference, and you want to make sure that your attorney has sufficient time to fight for you.
6. A pre-trial conference does not mean that you’re going to trial.
Just because you plea “not guilty” and your case is set for a pre-trial conference does not mean that you definitely intend to go to trial. Pre-trial conferences can present additional time in front of the prosecutor and judge to work out a better deal for you (what’s called “plea bargaining”). Pre-trial conferences also allow your attorney to request permission from the judge to take depositions of the prosecutor’s witnesses (question them under oath). Depositions may uncover weaknesses in your case such as illegal stops, illegal detentions, and flawed police investigation.
7. You may have a very strong case!
The prosecutor wants you to plea at your arraignment. That means less work for him or her. You may have a very strong case but without an experienced DUI attorney reviewing your case you will never know how strong or weak your case is.
What if there are no legal issues to be fought and my case is weak?
Unlike some law firms, the attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. are honest. We will not take large sums of money and tell you that your case is winnable only to come to you later and advise you to plea. We will give an accurate appraisal of your case at our first consultation.
If we believe that your case is not one that will involve a lot of time on our part, our fee will be decreased to reflect this. We take great pride in being a firm that is up-front with our clients. If you do not wish to go to trial, but want an attorney to work out a better offer for you and guide you through the process, we will be happy to do this, and will not charge you outlandish fees to do so.
Hiring a good attorney is always a good idea!
You want an attorney who cares about you and your case. Your attorney must be willing to spend the necessary time to get to know you. Only by getting to know your particular situation can an attorney guide you towards the best possible solution..