DUI ATTORNEY IN WEST PALM BEACH
I have just gotten out of jail. What should I do next?
Set up a meeting with an attorney immediately and retain his or her services. It is important to act quickly, as you have ten (10) days to have an administrative hearing to challenge your mandatory six (6) month driver’s license suspension if you blew .08 or higher or your one year suspension if you refuse to give a breath sample. When you are initially arrested for DUI under the above circumstances, the officer takes your physical license and your citation serves as a temporary license for ten (10) days. After that, without this hearing, you have no driver’s license.
What else will an attorney do for me, defense-wise, going forward?
An attorney will obtain a copy of the probable cause affidavit, which is the initial police report, copies of any audio or video from the driving pattern, road stop, tasks done and, if taken to the BAT center, all questions asked and breath samples given. He will contact the state to speak about your case, represent you at all court dates, meet you multiple times to speak about your case and formulate a defense, if necessary, to ultimately represent you at trial. It is never in your best interests to represent yourself in any criminal case. Even an attorney should not represent him or herself, as the old adage suggests.
Since this is my first DUI, will it be possible to reduce the charge to reckless driving?
Yes, it is definitely possible. It will depend on the strength of the State’s case, your prior record and the skill of your attorney. This resolution happens more often than you would think. No assistant state attorney wants to lose a DUI trial and this gives them the opportunity to get a lesser guaranteed conviction while allowing you to avoid the risk of a more damaging DUI conviction.
Should I give a breath sample?
You will only be asked to give a breath sample once you are handcuffed, your car is impounded and you are taken to a BAT center in a police car. By this time, no matter what you do, you will be spending the night in jail. If you know – 100% sure – you have not consumed any alcohol, I would advise you to give a breath sample. Know that even if the reading comes back .00, the officer will probably ask you for a blood or urine sample to see if you have any drugs in your system. If, however, you have had a drink or two, or more, refuse to give a breath sample. Just because you refuse a sample, that in no way indicates your guilt and it prevents the state from obtaining any evidence they can use against you in future proceedings.
Should I perform roadside tasks or answer any of the officer’s questions after being transported to the BAT center?
In a word, no. The tasks involve activities that no person ever does in real life and regardless of how you do them, the officer will find fault in your performance and you, most likely, will be placed under arrest and taken to the BAT center. As for the questions, you will already be at the BAT center and will be spending the night in jail. It is not in your best interests to give answers to the officer that the State will use against you in any future proceedings. Once again, a refusal cannot be held against you when the state is attempting to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but an incriminating answer will be.
I blew a .08 or higher. Am I automatically guilty of DUI?
No, you are not. There is a margin of error with the breathalyzer machines of .02 so if you blew .10 or lower, your breath sample falls within the margin of error and can be challenged at trial. Even if your breath sample is .10 or higher, your attorney can get the maintenance records of the testing machine to see if it has been serviced properly. So while a .08 makes a case more challenging, it by no means makes the case impossible to win for an experienced attorney.
I am under twenty-one (21) years old. What breath sample would put me over the limit?
Because you are not of legal drinking age, .02 would put you over the legal limit. Please see the previous answer about whether or not a .02 or higher would make you automatically guilty of DUI.
Will I have to go to court?
Yes, but not for every court date. Your attorney can file a Waiver of Appearance and appear in court on your behalf for your arraignment and any future proceedings. The only times it will be necessary for you to come to court would be the following: 1) for your calendar call date which is the final court date before you go to trial, if you choose to have a trial; 2) for your actual trial; 3) for your plea date, if you choose to accept a plea deal prior to trial.
How much will all of this cost?
The cost will depend upon a variety of factors. Is this your first DUI? Do you have a criminal record? Do you plan on going to trial? Your attorney will sit down with you, go over all of this information, including the details of this particular incident, and talk to you about fees prior to taking any actions on your behalf. Just because you meet with an attorney and speak about your case does not mean you are under any financial obligation to retain them as your representative.
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get legal advice for your specific legal issue is to speak to a lawyer.
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Allen Ambrosino has been a member of the Florida Bar Association in good standing since 2006.
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.