Being arrested for DUI can be an overwhelming, scary experience.
It is a situation the State of Florida takes seriously. Prosecutors are fully prepared to execute harsh, costly punishments even for first-time offenders.
Unfortunately, you won’t just be fighting one case against you. In Florida, you’ll face two cases:
A criminal case in the courtroom: Where your case will be heard before a judge.
An administrative case in front of a hearing officer of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Where they’ll determine the suspension of your driver’s license.
YOU ONLY HAVE 10 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF ARREST TO APPEAL YOUR LICENSE SUSPENSION AT THE DMV.
Both cases can have life-impacting consequences which is why you should consider having legal representation from an experienced DUI Lawyer.
Always have our phone number, (904) 567-3113, available in case you find yourself in a DUI situation. We’re prepared to represent you from the moment you’re pulled over.
What’s Involved Throughout a Florida DUI Criminal Case?
A DUI criminal case can be complicated. It involves several intimidating processes and procedures.
It Starts with Your First Appearance
In most cases, your first appearance will take place within 24 hours after your arrest. At this hearing, the judge:
- Informs you of your charges
- Reviews police reports
- Determines probable cause for your detention
- Sets a bond
You’ll learn if your criminal case will proceed to the next step at this hearing.
After the State files formal charges, you will appear in court for an Arraignment to enter a plea. It’s here that you or your legal representation (we often can waive your personal appearance at this hearing) will be asked to enter a plea of:
- Not Guilty
- Or No Contest
In most cases, we’ll enter a “Not Guilty” plea, which sets the stage for the next step in the process several weeks later—the Pre-Trial Conference. Subsequent to the Arraignment, you are entitled to all evidence the State intends on using against you. This gives us the opportunity to study all of the evidence against you and build a solid legal defense on your behalf.
At this hearing, we will update the Judge on whether all evidence was received from the State and the general direction we anticipate the case going. A tentative trial date will be scheduled.
During the pre-trial phase, we investigate all legal issues and plan our defense strategy. Common issues that arise in DUI cases consist of whether the traffic stop was lawful, if the officer had probable cause to detain or arrest you, or if your constitutional rights were violated.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the process moves on to Filing Motions or Evidentiary Hearings.
Filing Motions or Evidentiary Hearings
Before your trial, we might present key issues regarding your case, including the admissibility of evidence, whether the police were justified in stopping you or if DUI testing procedures were properly administered.
Again, if an agreement is not reached, your case proceeds to the next step: The Trial.
The prosecutor and your attorney will present their argument about your case before jurors.
If the jury finds you not guilty, you’ll be free to walk out of the courtroom and put this unpleasant experience behind you.
If you’re found guilty, you will be sentenced immediately. If this is your first DUI conviction, you could face the following penalties:
- Fine: $500-$1000 along with court costs
- 6-month driver’s license suspension
- Level 1 DUI School
- Up to 1 year of supervised probation
- 50 community service hours
- A 10-day vehicle impoundment
- Up to 6 months in jail
What’s Involved in the Administrative Process?
Just like the DUI criminal case, the administrative process can be complicated. It requires you to make major decisions with 10 days—with potentially life-impacting consequences. Again, legal representation will be valuable in providing you counsel plus providing a defense on your behalf.
If you refuse to take a breath test or if you tested higher than .08, then your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. However, you may drive 10 days after your arrest as a temporary privilege.
You must request a Formal Administrative Hearing with the DMV within the 10 days of your arrest. At this hearing, the DMV officer will determine to uphold your suspension or return your license. Your returned license might include stipulations such as only driving for business purposes only.
As a client, we discuss your options with you, which could include:
Waiving Your Right to a Hearing: If you have no prior convictions or suspensions, this might allow you to continue driving for business purposes only. This option could reduce your risk of losing your driving privileges entirely.
Proceed to Hearing: Where we might introduce evidence that your arrest was not properly handled or that you did not actually refuse a breath test.
As always, the Fusco Law Group is available to answer any question you might have regarding your legal rights. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI criminal charge, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (904)-567-3113 for a free consultation.