Florida Criminal Defense and DUI Defense Blog

1Apr, 11

 

You have been arrested, booked, tested (or refused to be tested) and have posted a bond to get out of jail.

You have spent several hours searching through your memory about everything that happened to you the day of your arrest, regarding the arrest itself and your time in custody, and have written all this down in as much detail as you can remember.

You have put together a list of everyone you met during your arrest and your time in jail, what they might have said to you, and what you told them.

You have even taken pictures or video footage of your car as soon as you and the roadway conditions allow.

Possibly, you have spoken to an attorney and taken care of some preliminary matters.  What should you do next?

Keep your arrest details to yourself

Arrested does not mean convicted. While being convicted of a DUI-DWI offense can have a possible effect on your job, your insurance rates, and on the rest of your life, merely being arrested should not.

You may very well eventually being found not guilty, or have the charges reduced or dropped.

The best general rule to follow is only discuss your case with people (such as your attorney’s staff) who have a “need to know” these details.

Plus, for anyone not associated with your attorney’s office, the  facts that  they need to  know  are  typically very limited and do  not  involve potentially incriminating  (i.e.,  admission of  guilt  or  admission of  facts  pointing  toward  possible  guilt) information.

In some instances, your employer may learn of your arrest because you cannot avoid telling them (e.g., you miss work the day after your arrest).

In other instances, your employee handbook or employment contract may require disclosure of the arrest. In some instances, your use of a company vehicle may force you to discuss the arrest with a supervisor.

Generally, however, the only person who typically needs to know the entire situation is your lawyer.

This said, any words that leave your lips to anyone else can at least theoretically be used  against you.

Your conversation at the water cooler with the guy in the cubical next to yours can come back to haunt you when the prosecutor or an investigator from the prosecutor’s office talks to them and gets some detail that hurts your defense.

Although unlikely, a person that you speak with may have a legal problem going on as well that you don’t know about and they get a better deal from the prosecutor because they offer to give you the prosecutor helpful information on your case.

Your conversation at the gym could be overheard by a police officer, who can then take this information and use it against you.

Remember that especially in our “post-9/11″ society, the walls have ears, and ANYTHING you say to ANYONE who can hear your words, can and will be used against you.

Staying out of trouble while the drunk driving case is pending

As will be discussed elsewhere in this book, once arrested for DUI-DWI, you then face a legal process which could be over in as little as a few days (unlikely) to as long as year or more (too likely).

During this time, while your case is still active and pending, you do not need to add to your problems.

Any new infractions or legal problems can be disastrous, especially if it is a similar new offense.

First, while it might be legal or acceptable for anyone else in the world to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with a co-worker on the way home, it is not acceptable for you to drink any alcohol, in any form, and then drive.

The absolute last thing you need to happen to you while you are pending a trial for a DUI-DWI is another drinking/driving arrest.

Second, if you use any other illegal substance, don’t drive.

This includes marijuana, any other illegal drug or prescription medicine that is not legally prescribed for you.

If you are stopped and arrested for a second DUI-DWI offense while your original case is pending, you may prevent any possibility of negotiating away the initial charges, and the court system will come down upon you even harder.

Last, if there is any chance you are doing anything which could even be possibly considered illegal during this period of your life – DON’T.

Pay your taxes, cross the street only at  crosswalks, drive  the  speed  limit  and  come  to  a  complete stop  at  stop  signs.

Don’t manhandle your spouse, hit your kids or beat your dog.

Don’t give the police any other chance to arrest you and to complicate your life further.

For this time period, you and your life are under a microscope.

The good news is that this harsh part of your life will eventually be over and you can get things back to normal, if you don’t get into more trouble while your case is pending.

If (or when) you have your license back after being charged with DUI

Despite it being very easy for a DUI-DWI arrest to take over your life, don’t let it.

You need to concentrate on the other issues identified in this book to maximize your chances of winning your case or achieving a plea reduction.

As your case progresses, your life must go on. Staying employed is critical. This will help you maintain normalcy in your life.

Furthermore, hiring a top DUI-DWI attorney is costly, plus court expenses and expert witness costs add to the financial burden.

Other expenses directly relating to your case can arise in some cases (e.g., possible restitution costs for damages not covered by insurance).

Talk to your lawyer about the expenses you face.

Your hearings, your trial, will likely result in you having to take time off from work so that you can not only attend, but assist your lawyer prepare in the days and weeks before your court appearances.

Due to other commitments of your lawyer’s time, be flexible with meetings and agree to telephone consultations when he or she suggests that a face-to-face meeting is not feasible.

Being prepared for expenses in the event you lose your case is also important.

You could face fines and other expenses (e.g., probation or treatment costs) having to do with sentencing if you are found (or plead guilty) to either the DUI-DWI or a lesser offense.

Start taking positive steps in your life, becoming more active in your religious endeavors, performing volunteer work, or possibly enrolling in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation or treatment if recommended by your lawyer.

Often, the need for such a program will already be on your agenda because you recognize a problem with alcohol in your life.

If you do begin attending a program like Alcoholics Anonymous, stay with it.

Keep a record of every meeting you attend, and have your sponsor or host sign off on your attendance sheet every time you attend a meeting.

While these things will have no effect on any trial or decision of guilt or innocence, these steps provide your lawyer and you some positive “evidence in mitigation” to present to the judge if a sentencing hearing becomes necessary.

Alcoholics Anonymous offers several on-line questionnaires if you have any question as to   whether or not alcohol is a problem in your life.

Check out their website at https://www.aa.org/ for further information.

If you’re older you can also contact the National Council on Seniors Drug & Alcohol Rehab for help and support.

Attorney Mike Kessler
Written by: Attorney Mike Kessler

Attorney Kessler has been practicing criminal law in Florida for 30 years. He is recognized as is a leading authority on drunk-driving defense as well as a founding member of the Saint Lucie County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and co-author of The DUI Book: Florida Edition, the definitive resource on DUI in Florida.

To speak with Mike, call 772-466-4900 or click here for a free consultation.

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