When you’re pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), your life is about to change in many ways. Choosing a lawyer is the first step in dealing with the consequences of a DUI in Florida, so you should strive to make an informed decision. Not every attorney handles this type of case, and, of those who do, not all will have the experience, track record, and professionalism you need for a desirable outcome. Before seeking out an attorney, you should know what you’re facing and the possible outcomes.
Driving under the influence is the act of operating a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level (BAL) is above the legal limit, or while under the influence of certain types of drugs. Impaired driving is to blame for thousands of serious and fatal vehicle accidents on our roads. In the United States, someone dies from a wreck involving a drunk driver every 48 minutes, and the cost of those accidents are up to $50 million annually.
That’s why Florida, like nearly all jurisdictions, has made DUI a criminal act with varying degrees of punishment, including temporary suspension of the offender’s license, fines, and/or jail time. The state can also order a driver to use an ignition interlock system that prevents the car from starting until he or she has taken a dashboard-mounted breathalyzer-type test.
The penalties get tougher depending on how many prior offenses a driver has, as well as how high his or her blood alcohol level was at the time of the offense. Age also plays a role; Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for young people who drink and drive. That means that anyone under the age of 21, with a BAL above 0.02%, can be charged with DUI.
When facing a DUI, choosing the right South Florida DUI attorney can make all the difference in your case.
- First, you must understand that you need representation. It’s rarely a wise idea to represent yourself in court, particularly when you’re facing criminal charges of DUI. It’s good to have someone on your side who understands the law and how it applies to your unique case. Even if you feel that it’s an “open and shut” case, there may be factors that you aren’t aware of that may change the outcome.
- When choosing an attorney, first look for someone who has experience with cases involving DUI in Florida. Then you’ll need to narrow it down to a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable.
- Look into a prospective attorney’s track record. How many cases does the attorney typically handle at once? Some lawyers handle a large volume of cases, which in some instances may result in their clients not getting much individual attention.
- Try to find out how many of the lawyer’s Florida DUI cases go to trial. Sometimes, attorneys who handle impaired driving will plea bargain most of the cases that come their way, just to get them over with.
- While plea bargaining can be necessary and useful in many DUI situations, evidence in some cases calls for more investigation and/or a trial. For example, in some cases there may be evidence that the police didn’t administer the sobriety tests correctly or that you were unlawfully stopped in the first place.
You should feel comfortable with your prospective attorney and be completely honest with him or her. Being honest with your attorney is a vital part of having a successful case. Many attorneys offer a free consultation where you offer a basic overview of your case and listen to the lawyer’s advice regarding how to proceed.
Contacting an Attorney after a DUI in Florida
Driving under the influence has serious consequences in Florida. You can face the loss of your driver’s license, fines, and imprisonment. If you’ve been charged with DUI, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the law office of Falk & Ross at 305-741-6997.