Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida can be scary. Because drunk-driving is considered a criminal offense in the state, you could be subject to harsh penalties – including fines, community service, probation, vehicle impoundment, loss of driving privileges and even imprisonment – if convicted. To ensure that your rights are protected, consult a South Florida DUI attorney.
Knowing which actions to take after a Florida DUI arrest can mean the difference between winning and losing your case. The most important thing you can do at this time is to hire an attorney. An attorney who has experience defending drunk-driving charges can investigate the circumstances of your arrest in order to uncover evidence that may strengthen your defense.
DUI Arrest in Florida
Most DUI arrests in Florida occur after a traffic stop or an alcohol-related vehicle accident. If the officer notices that you are driving erratically or disobeying traffic laws, he or she may pull you over on suspicion of DUI in Florida and administer a series of field sobriety tests, used to determine if there is probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest. Please note that if no probable cause exists for your stop or arrest, an attorney could move to have your case dismissed.
After your arrest, the officer may transport you back to the police station for a breathalyzer test; this test is used to determine if you are over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit (.08% for drivers over 21). You will also be booked, fingerprinted, photographed and placed into a holding cell until bail can be arranged. While Florida requires that DUI offenders remain in jail for at least 8 hours after arrest, this may be expedited if you are no longer considered intoxicated or your BAC is less than .05%
Bail is used to ensure that you appear for your later court date. There are several types of bail, which may include:
- Cash: the whole amount is paid upfront and will be returned after your court appearances.
- ROR (own recognizance): you pay nothing, but you can be arrested if you fail to appear.
- Bail bond: you pay a bail bondsman a fraction of the bail and provide collateral while the bail bondsman pays the cash bond.
After being arrested for DUI, the court will set a date for your arraignment hearing. It is important to speak with a DUI attorney before this hearing, as he or she can offer advice on how you should plead and even represent you during your court date. At arraignment, the judge will read the drunk-driving charges against you and ask how you plead. You have 3 options; you can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
If you plead guilty or no contest, you might be sentenced immediately or be required to come back for sentencing. If you plead not guilty, your DUI attorney can begin preparing for your trial or attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
Florida’s 10-Day Rule
After a DUI, you have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to submit a hearing request to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) in order to appeal your administrative driver’s license suspension or revocation. Failure to submit your request before the deadline will result in the automatic loss of your driving privileges. Please note that this suspension is completely unrelated to your criminal case and may occur just for testing over Florida’s legal limit.
Contact a South Florida DUI Attorney
As you can see, a lot can happen after a DUI. By quickly contacting a DUI attorney, you can begin fighting your charges and appealing your DHSMV license suspension. The defense attorneys at the Falk & Ross Law Firm are dedicated to helping with your pending drunk-driving charges. For a free consultation on your case, please call 877-663-5110 or 305-741-6997 today.