This Is My First DUI. What Should I Expect?
In Florida, a person may be arrested and charged with DUI for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, a drunk driving conviction can result in serious penalties and other life-altering consequences, depending on your number of prior DUI convictions. If you've been charged with your first DUI/DWI, retaining a strategic Florida criminal defense attorney is paramount to help build your defense.
At the Law Offices of D. D. Archer, PA, we're dedicated to offering reliable representation and knowledgeable legal guidance to clients in their DUI/DWI cases. Our attorney can educate you about your legal rights, possible options, as well as what to expect after getting charged with your first DUI/DWI. Also, we will fight aggressively for your rights and help protect your driving privileges. Our firm proudly serves clients across Clermont, Sumter County, Lake County, Seminole County, and Polk County, Florida.
DUI Charges in Florida
According to Florida DUI laws, it is an offense to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle:
While "under the influence" of alcohol or controlled substances, or
With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or more.
On reasonable suspicion of driving while under the influence, a law enforcement officer may stop your car and request some DUI tests, including field sobriety and chemical tests. A trusted DUI/DWI defense lawyer can enlighten you about your rights with DUI tests and the ramifications of a refusal.
Tests and Your Rights
As previously mentioned, the police may stop your vehicle and request field sobriety and chemical tests to determine whether or not you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Field sobriety tests are a standardized group of three tests used by police officers to determine if a driver is impaired. Actually, there is no Florida law that mandates a person to submit to a field sobriety test. Also, there is no punishment for refusing to take the test.
In contrast, a chemical test – such as a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test – may be done to measure the level of alcohol in your body, breath, or blood. Under Florida's implied consent law, drivers are required to submit to a chemical test if the police have a reasonable cause to suspect intoxicated or impaired driving.
However, refusing to take a chemical test may result in license suspension and other administrative penalties. A highly-skilled attorney can fully explain the court process you'll go through after a DUI arrest and help strategize your best defenses.
The Process You'll Go Through
Here are the processes you'll go through following a DUI or DWI arrest in Florida:
Arrest: The police will make an arrest once they have reasonable cause to suspect DUI. The defendant will be taken to jail, and chemical tests will be requested.
First Appearance: The first appearance in court will occur within 24 hours of your arrest. The judge will review the facts of your case to determine the reasons for your arrest. Your request for bail will also be heard.
Arraignment: At the arraignment, the judge will ask you to enter a plea of "Not Guilty," "Guilty," or "No Contest." If you enter a plea of not guilty, a date will be set for a pretrial conference.
Pretrial Conference: At the pretrial conference, the prosecutor will discuss the details of your case with your attorney. Both attorneys will review and exchange available evidence, breath testing information, and lab reports. Your attorney will discuss the possibility of a plea bargain or decide whether to proceed to trial.
Trial: At the trial, the judge or jury will listen to arguments from both attorneys, assess the evidence against you, and determine whether you are not guilty or guilty of the DUI charges. If found not guilty, the case against you will be dismissed. Conversely, if you're found guilty, the judge will announce your sentence.
However, defending your DUI allegations without detailed guidance is never advisable and might expose you to the risks of getting convicted and suffering the maximum penalties. An experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer can help craft your defense strategy in pursuit of the best possible outcome.
Possible Penalties for First Offense
The possible penalties for a first-time DUI/DWI offense in Florida include:
Hefty fines and court fees
Court-imposed license revocation
An ignition interlock device
Compulsory attendance at driver's intervention program.
Other consequences include:
A criminal record/history
Increased difficulty in getting government assistance
Increased difficulty in securing employment or accommodation.
Loss of scholarships or university acceptance
Increased auto insurance rates
Ineligibility to obtain certain financial loans
Loss of your rights to possess or own firearms
Deterioration of professional and personal relationships
Due to the severe nature of these penalties and consequences, you need to fight your DUI charges, even if it is your first. A reliable lawyer can evaluate every aspect of your case and outline a solid defense to help you avoid the ramifications of a conviction.
Strong & Dependable Representation
A first DUI/DWI conviction in Florida can potentially put your liberty, personal reputation, quality of life, career, and future at risk. This is why you need to retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney when facing drunk driving allegations to uphold your freedom. At the Law Offices of D. D. Archer, PA, we have devoted our career to handling criminal cases and protecting individuals charged with DUI from the worst possible penalties.
As your attorney, we can investigate every aspect of your case thoroughly and craft a solid defense strategy that will maximize your chances of the most favorable outcome for your unique situation. Also, we will guide you through the Florida criminal justice system and represent you intelligently at every phase of the legal process.
Contact us at the Law Offices of D. D. Archer, PA, today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a dependable DUI/DWI defense lawyer. Our attorney can help protect your driving privileges and keep your record clean. We're proud to represent clients across Clermont, Sumter County, Lake County, Seminole County, and Polk County, Florida.