While it is not illegal to consume alcohol and then drive a vehicle in the State of Florida, it is illegal to drive a vehicle if you consumed enough alcohol to impair your normal faculties. As defined in Section 316.1934(1), Florida Statutes, normal faculties include, but are not limited to, “the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, normally perform the many mental and physical acts of daily life.” Whether or not a person's normal faculties are impaired at the time they are operating a motor vehicle is often a judgment call made by the officer conducting the D.U.I. investigation. Officer's are trained to look for very specific indicators of impairment, however simply because an officer views indicators of impairment does not always legally justify an arrest for D.U.I.
After a person is arrested for D.U.I. they must enter a plea of not guilty and post a bond if they wish to fight the case. Once a person has posted a bond they will be released from jail and given a copy of the D.U.I. citation. I recommend to all people arrested for D.U.I. to sit down the next day and write out as many details of the day they were arrested as possible. Providing as many details as possible helps to show whether or not your normal faculties were in fact impaired. It is VERY important to act quickly because you only have ten (10) days to file with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (H.S.M.V.) for a Formal Review Hearing. If you do not file for a Formal Review Hearing within the ten (10) days your driver's license will be administratively suspended for a period of six (6) months for a case with a breath test over 0.08 or for twelve (12) months for a refusal. I represent any client, that hires me in time, at their Formal Review Hearing. This is a VERY important aspect of any effective D.U.I. defense. A Formal Review Hearing allows me to subpoena the officer's involved in your case and cross examine them, under oath so their testimony can be used later for impeachment at a later criminal hearing or trial. Since in a D.U.I. case an officer's deposition can not be taken without permission from the Judge, a Formal Review Hearing is the only opportunity to lock the officer/s into their version of events while they are under oath. A second benefit to applying for a Formal Review Hearing is H.S.M.V. will issue a temporary driving permit which allows the person to drive, under restrictions, until seven (7) days after the Formal Review Hearing is completed.
It is important for me to be able to contact the State Attorney assigned to your criminal case as soon as possible. After being arrested recommended charges are sent by the police to the State Attorney. The final filing decision on what a person is charged with lies with the State Attorney. If the State Attorney will agree to hold off on filing a criminal charge of D.U.I. in your case until after a Formal Review Hearing is completed any legal issues that arise from the officer/s testimony can be used to try to convince the State Attorney to not file any criminal charges or to file a reduced charge of Reckless Driving. If the State Attorney files a criminal charge of D.U.I. it is important to review not only the evidence (video) provided by the State Attorney's Office, but to conduct a subsequent investigation and to make efforts to uncover any evidence that can disprove or mitigate the evidence relied upon by the State Attorney.
After completing my own investigation I meet with all clients to review their case a second time. At this time I advise each client on the strength or weakness of their case and how I think is best to proceed with their defense. I counsel my clients on whether the filing of a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss is likely to be granted by the Judge, or entering a plea or setting the case for jury trial is in the clients best interest. I provide my clients with all of my experience and judgment on how to proceed at this point, however the client decides which course of action is best for them. I work for my clients, and not the other way around. This is an aspect of the practice of law that is often over looked by attorneys.
If you have been arrested for D.U.I. I encourage you to contact my office as soon as possible to schedule a time for a FREE CONSULTATION.
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