What to Do After a DUI in Fort Pierce, Florida
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Fort Pierce, it’s important that you act quickly to prevent serious penalties that can impact your life for years to come. From driver’s license suspension to heavy fines to jail time, Florida law gives harsh penalties to drivers who are convicted.
Unfortunately, more people are wrongly accused of driving under the influence than any other crime; Fort Pierce residents are wrongly accused of drunk driving every day, and without an experienced DUI defense attorney, these drivers fall victim to a system that is often biased, flawed, and reliant upon testing that is inaccurate.
To help you understand your rights and how a Florida DUI attorney can prevent wrongful conviction or lessen the penalties you face, we’ve prepared the below quick guide designed to give you the information you need to make sure you aren’t a victim of an imperfect system.
Requirements for a DUI in Florida
To be convicted for drunk driving under Florida statute §316.193, the following 3 elements must be true:
- The defendant was driving or under actual physical control of a vehicle in Florida;
- The defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that the person’s normal faculties were impaired;
- The defendant’s blood alcohol level or breath alcohol level is 0.8 or higher.
What happens after a DUI arrest
The process after a drunk driving arrest can be complicated and varies depending upon several factors, such as whether you hire an attorney and whether you are eligible for bail.
The basic process for all drivers is the initial arrest, transport to the police station, booking, bail, and arraignment.
During booking, a police officer will ask if you consent to a breath test. If you give your consent, testing will be administered. After testing (or after you refuse testing), you will be put in jail.
If you can afford it and are eligible, you can post bail at this time. If you cannot afford bail, you can contact a bail bondsman or wait for your first appearance in front of the judge.
The next step in the process is the arraignment. What happens at your arraignment may very well determine whether you are charged with driving under the influence or have the charges dropped.
So why is the arraignment so important? The purpose of an arraignment is for the judge to tell you exactly what you are being charged with and give you a chance to enter a plea: you can choose to plead either “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”
If you plead guilty or no contest, you forfeit your chances to further present your case and move on to sentencing. You may be sentenced immediately or at a future hearing.
If you plead not guilty, there are a series of preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, discovery, and the opportunity for a plea bargain, before going to trial.
What NOT to do after a drunk driving arrest
It cannot be stressed enough: pleading guilty is rarely a good idea. Even if you believe that you were guilty of driving under the influence, there are many factors that could help mitigate your sentence: an inaccurate breathalyzer result, inconsistencies between the evidence and the testimony of the arresting officer, and mistakes made while processing your case are all common examples.
Don’t plead guilty to charges without consulting an experienced defense attorney!
Going to the arraignment alone without an attorney, or with an attorney who is inexperienced with drunk driving defense in Florida, is also a bad idea. Your arraignment “makes or breaks” your DUI case – you want an experienced defense attorney by your side to protect your rights and make sure you have the best chance possible at avoiding or reducing the charges against you.
Automatic driver’s license suspension
There are some instances where a driver’s license is automatically suspended: in these cases, it’s important to act within 10 days or you lose your chance to challenge the suspension. For these clients, the 10-day window after arrest is critical:
- If you refused to take a breathalyzer test;
- Had a breathalyzer result of 0.8 or higher; or
- Are under the age of 21
When you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, the best way to protect your rights is with a knowledgeable and zealous Florida criminal defense lawyer who can help prevent you from losing your license, your paycheck, and even your freedom.
If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, Florida criminal defense lawyer Michael Kessler can help you mitigate the severe penalties you face by:
- Challenging your driver’s license suspension
- Reducing your DUI to a lesser charge
- Keep you from serving jail time
- Getting the charges against you dropped
- And more!
Don’t be a victim: contact Michael Kessler, experienced Florida DUI defense attorney, today!