First Things to Do After Being Charged with A DUI
Florida ranks among the toughest DUI states. If you are convicted of driving in excess of a .08 blood alcohol content, you face fines upwards of $2,000, up to 50 hours of community service, criminal probation, loss of license and jail time. Those are just the consequences of a first drunk driving offense. If you have a previous DUI conviction or register a .15 on the breathalyzer, your future is in serious jeopardy.
It’s also important to understand that just because you have been arrested and charged with a driving impairment offense, that does not mean state prosecutors will be able to secure a conviction. Law enforcement has been known to make erroneous and improper arrests. What you do from the time you are charged can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Consider these steps.
Exercise Your Right Remain Silent
You have the right to remain silent. Use that right. There is a great deal of truth to the fact that “anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.” For example, telling the police that you only had one drink actually helps the prosecution leverage their case against you. State prosecutors may say to a judge that the defendant, you, admitted to drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel. That can be very unhelpful to your defense attorney in getting a positive outcome. Be patient, your day in court will come. Until then, let your DUI defense attorney do the talking.
Call A Florida DUI Lawyer
Once you have been charged, your first action should be to call an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer may be able to negotiate your release on bail or personal recognizance from the station. If the police are determined to hold you overnight, the value of strong legal representation at the arraignment cannot be understated. Having a member of the Florida bar argue for reasonable bail can make a major difference. If you have a prior criminal record, the arraignment can be a critical hearing. Enlist legal representation.
Create A Record of the Events
With your attorney, trace your steps back to what transpired before the police stop. Document where you were. Recall whether you had a meal and what it was. If you did have a minor amount of alcohol, generate a record such as a credit card bill or receipt for your lawyer. Review the events leading up to the stop. Your attorney may have pointed questions that go to the legality of the police pulling you over in the first place.
Write down the specific steps and protocols used by the officer. These may include a field sobriety test and what tasks you were asked to perform. Did the police cruiser have a dash camera and was it recording? This may be a key piece of evidence in your defense.
Try to recall who specifically administered the breathalyzer examination and how long after being arrested it was conducted. Other useful information in a DUI case includes medical conditions such as diabetes, GERD, dental work such as braces, low carbohydrate diets and other things that can impact a breathalyzer examination. A successful DUI defense can be in the details.
Follow Any Court Instructions
If the court temporarily suspends your driver’s license or prohibits you from conduct such as drinking alcohol, follow the court’s direction to the letter. Being cited by law enforcement for failing to comply with a court order can significantly impact the ability of your defense attorney to exonerate you or negotiate a suitable plea agreement. The court may feel compelled to level punitive sanctions against you for acting like a scofflaw.
The fact that Florida law enforcement has charged you with DUI does not necessarily mean the state will be able to gain a conviction. As an experienced DUI law firm, we will challenge every inch of the evidence gathered against you. Overzealous arrests are not uncommon, and we’ll put their case under strict legal scrutiny. At Yardley Law, we defend the rights of everyday Floridians.