Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:   How do I choose the right Florida DUI Lawyer?

A. Most importantly, you have to hire an attorney or, preferably, a DUI Firm, that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust to properly represent you, the way you want to be represented. Qualifications are important, but you should also consider whether the firm is up front and honest about all fees and expenses which could be incurred during the course of representation, whether they provide personal service to the client and will make themselves available to you and/or your family, and whether they tell you what their plan is? Unlike many other areas of criminal defense, you have to have a good working relationship with the attorneys and firm you hire in order to fight your DUI charge. Lets face it, money is always a consideration and if they can’t tell you up front what you are looking at, can you really trust them with your case? Do they truly have a plan for handling your case – are they DUI attorneys – are they going to work your case or just plea you out. Consider, Hiring a Qualified DUI Firm and Why You Should Hire Us!

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Q:  What if I pled guilty or no contest at my bond hearing?

A. You can file a motion to have your plea withdrawn within thirty (30) days of your conviction, but it is not automatic. There are certain things you must demonstrate to the court to justify the withdraw of your plea.

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Q:   Can I still drive after the officer took my driver’s license?

A: Under most circumstances, yes. But, your license must have been valid at the time of your DUI arrest. In Florida, when you are arrested for DUI, you have a right to drive for 10 days following your arrest for DUI. During that 10 day time period you have a right to challenge the suspension of your license. If you do not request a review hearing your license will be suspended on the 11th day following your arrest. If you do proceed with a formal review hearing we can usually get you a permit to drive for approximately 6 – 8 weeks, because we will coordinate the scheduling of a review hearing with the DMV approximately 6 weeks following our request. This will give us the time necessary to gather the documents and evidence pertaining to your case and subpoena all the necessary witnesses to testify.

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Q:   What is the difference between a plea of guilty or a plea of no contest?

A: In a DUI case, there is no difference in terms of your criminal record, your driving record or the penalties imposed. They will both result in a criminal conviction for DUI, and your case will be completed.

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Q:   If convicted, how long will the DUI remain on my
driving record?

A: It will remain on your driving record and your criminal record forever.

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Q:   Can I really fight my DUI if I took the breath test and blew over the legal limit?

A: Absolutely. Look at our Recent Court Victories or 50 Ways to BEAT a DUI just for example. There are several factors to consider in a DUI case, such as whether you were stopped legally, or detained legally, or arrested legally, or whether proper procedures were followed regarding the breath testing process, or whether the breath test machine truly gave a proper reading, for examples. You need a Qualified DUI Firm that understands the Breath Testing Process .

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Q:   Will my insurance rates rise as a result of a Florida DUI conviction?

A: Absolutely. Insurance companies base their coverage rates on risks associated with each driver, and the presence of a DUI on your record poses a significant risk in the eyes of your insurance company. Studies have shown that insurance costs can rise by as much as $10,000 over the five years subsequent to a DUI conviction, depending of course, on the type and amount of coverage you have.

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Q:   What about my prior DUI years ago that occurred outside of Florida?

A: It will most likely be used against you now, too. Florida Law requires the State Attorney to count all prior offenses, whether they were committed in Florida or another State. The obvious result is this is more sever sanctions could be imposed against you if convicted, such as more jail, higher fines, longer license suspension, etc.

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Q:   What does a Blood-Alcohol Level of .08 mean?

A: The term ".08 BAC" is commonly referred to as the legal limit, but this is not accurate. According to Florida Law, .08 BAC is the presumptive level of impairment. In other words, if you have consumed enough alcohol to reach a .08 BAC, you are automatically considered impaired. But, there are numerous challenges that can be made to contest the results.

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Q:   What if I'm below .08 BAC?

A: You can still be convicted of DUI even if you are under .08 BAC. But, the State must prove that your “normal faculties” were impaired. The State routinely seeks DUI convictions on .05 BAC’s and above so you still must fight the charge. Protect your rights – Don’t assume anything and take nothing for granted! Hire a Qualified DUI Firm.

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Q:   Will I be able to get my case dismissed because I was not read my rights?

A: Not likely. The failure to advise you of your rights raises issues as to statements you may have made only. But, the officer may have failed to follow other procedures or may become confused about the importance of Miranda warnings when questioned under oath, leading to other problems in the officer’s testimony! You need a firm that understands the importance of effective Questioning of the Police.

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Q: What does Florida law require the State to prove for a DUI conviction?

A: The State must prove the following: You were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle (1) While you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle you had a breath or blood alcohol level above a .08, or (2) You were driving while your "normal faculties" were impaired.

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Q:   How Does the State prove your Normal Faculties were impaired without a breath test?

A. The State must prove impairment based upon indicators observed by the officer, generally, and the definition of "Normal faculties" (which will be given to the jury if your case went to trial) is as follows: 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. So, that is what we focus on – these things that comprise “normal faculties” in the jury instructions. As you see, nowhere in that definition is a One Leg Stand, Walk and Turn, Eye test, or a Finger to Nose test! So, What about the Field Sobriety Exercises anyway?

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Q:   Should I ask for an attorney if I’m arrested?

A: Yes. The Constitution of the United States guarantees your right to legal representation, and you have the right to make such a request at any time prior to answering any questions in relation to your arrest. However, you are not entitled to an attorney in order to demonstrate that you are not impaired (taking the field sobriety exercises or taking a chemical test to determine your alcohol level). What this means, is that if you refuse the FSE’s (or breath test) for example, the officer can testify in court that he requested that you do them and you refused. If the officer asks you questions relating to your alcohol consumption or other things bearing on the circumstances of your stop or arrest and you refuse to answer, the officer cannot testify in court that he asked you those questions and you refused to answer, because that is your constitutional right to refuse to answer potentially incriminating questions. Unfortunately, no such right exists for the exercises or chemical tests.

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Q:   What happens at my upcoming arraignment date?

A: You enter your formal plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest. If you Hire us, we plea you Not Guilty and get another Court date for a pre-trial conference in most circumstances, depending on the court and the presiding judge. Your appearance may or may not be required.

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Q:   Is the DMV Hearing Important?

A: Yes. You want to take advantage of all of your rights. And, you have a right to a DMV review of your license suspension so why not take it? The DMV hearing gives you an opportunity to get a driving permit, rather than starting your “hard suspension” immediately, it also allows you the opportunity of possibly overturning your administrative suspension completely if you win, and of possibly most importance, it gives your attorney an opportunity to question the officers and possibly other crucial witnesses in your DUI criminal case, under oath, which can later be used to impeach them. A DUI attorney understands how important the DMV hearing process truly is and will certainly want to exercise your right to it—that is if you truly want to win your DUI!

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Q:   Why is your license taken after the arrest, and when do you get it back?

A: Under Florida law, your license can be administratively suspended for either a refusal to take a blood test or if you have a breath test result of .08 or greater. The length of this suspension can be from six (6) months to eighteen (18) months. However, you may be eligible for a temporary permit to continue driving while your DMV hearing is pending, and if you successfully challenge the validity of your administrative suspension, your license will be returned to you – pending any suspension that may be imposed in your criminal case. .

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Q:  Can I get my DUI conviction expunged?

A: No. DUI convictions in the State of Florida are not permitted to be expunged because the Law requires you to be adjudicated Guilty. You cannot obtain a “withhold of adjudication” if you enter a plea of No Contest or Guilty to a DUI charge. However, you may be able to set aside your plea, and then start your case over. But, there are limited circumstances and we would have to review your file, plea, and all the surrounding circumstances to determine if it is reasonable to even try to do so.

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Q:   Can I go to jail if I’m convicted of a DUI in Florida?

A: It depends. Although it is unlikely that you will go to jail for a first offense DUI in Florida, it is not unheard of. This usually depends on your Judge and whether there are any aggravating circumstances, such as an accident, high breath/blood alcohol result, drugged driving, misconduct towards police, if other charges were filed but dismissed as part of plea and, sometimes, if you refused the chemical test, may result in a jail sentence being imposed. Nonetheless, if you have a lawyer it is very unlikely that you would get a jail sentence on a first offense DUI charge, even with one or two of the factors above being present. The best way to avoid jail for any DUI charge is to BEAT the DUI!

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Q: Do I have to do the field sobriety tests?

A: No. You have the right to refuse, and it does not result in a license suspension as some officers would have you believe it does. However, many officers would simply take you to jail and state that they had to base their decision on what they observed – and you know what that will likely be – all the standard language, such as flushed face, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol. Now, are those indicators enough to convict you? Probably not, in our firm’s opinion. Bottom line, the Officer has probably already formed an opinion that you were impaired and he is requesting the exercises to simply try to build a case against you. If you really feel like you can do the exercises, you could do them, but be aware, the officer will likely say you did poorly. If you don’t think you can do them or shouldn’t try, then you could always state that “I want to speak to my lawyer” every time the officer requests you to do them. Generally, it is more difficult for the State to prove their case against you without the results of the field exercises.

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