DUI Process Explained
Gainesville DUI Attorneys
Getting pulled over in Gainesville or Alachua County for a DUI can be a scary time for any individual regardless of that persons understanding of DUI law. Most individuals are familiar with the charge of DUI but many are unaware that when you are arrested for DUI that there will be two separate cases against you.
- If you chose not to submit to the breath test or if you took the breath test and blew higher than .08, your license will automatically be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The suspension of your license by the DMV is the first of the two cases associated with a DUI and you will have to request a Formal Administrative Hearing to have your license reinstated.
- The second case is the actual criminal case which what most people think of when talking about DUIs.
As experienced Gainesville DUI lawyers we will attempt to clarify the differences between the two cases below:
Formal Administrative Hearing- The Civil Case with the DMV
- After you are arrested, you will have 10 BUSINESS DAYS to request a Formal Administrative Hearing to challenge the administrative suspension of your license by the DMV. It is important to hire an experienced Alachua County DUI Attorney in that short timeframe as YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY DEMAND THE HEARING TO BE HEARD and you will need an attorney to put forth the best possible argument to prevent your license from being suspended.
- At the hearing your attorney will make his/her best argument to show that the license suspension should be invalidated.
- Common arguments are that the circumstances that led to the DUI arrest were improper, or that you did not refuse the breath test.
- The hearing officer will then weigh the facts presented and make a decision as to whether or not your suspension should be upheld or overturned.
- If the hearing officer upholds the suspension of your license then you cannot obtain a hardship license for at least thirty (30) days (provided this is your first DUI offense).
- If the hearing officer overturns the suspension, your license should be returned to you immediately.
The Criminal Case
- After your arrest, you will most likely be charged with the criminal misdemeanor charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in county court. You will then have your first court appearance called the "First Appearance." First appearance usually takes place within the first 24 hours after your arrest, so long as you have not been released on bond by that time and First Appearance is conducted in front of a judge or judicial official. First Appearance can be an important factor in the process as First Appearance is when your bond or bail will or will not be set. Having an experienced DUI attorney at your First Appearance is important to make sure your bond amount is reasonable and to make certain you will be released from custody.
- Normally within 30 days after your arrest you will be required to go to court for the next step of the DUI process called the Arraignment. The Arraignment is when the Court will ask you to enter a plea of "Guilty", "Not Guilty", or "No Contest." The time between your First Appearance and your Arraignment is a crucial time for a person arrested for DUI and it is necessary to hire an attorney that understands that certain motions must be filed before your Arraignment to preserve those opportunities to fight your charges. Additionally, your attorney can waive your appearance at many of the initial court events which will limit your stress, frustrations and the embarrassment of being physically present in court while your lawyer fights for you.
- Once you have entered your plea at Arraignment, your next step in the DUI process will be a Pretrial Conference. The Pretrial Conference is another hearing where your attorney and the prosecutor will handle scheduling and housekeeping details of the case. Most experienced attorneys will take the time between the court events to stockpile evidence in hopes of getting your DUI charge dropped or reduced to a "reckless driving" charge. However, these court events are not just for scheduling and housekeeping, they provide your attorney and the prosecutor with actual face time to discuss possible claims that your rights were violated by an illegal arrest or a defect in the alcohol testing procedures.
- The next step in the DUI process is the submission of Motions to Suppress Evidence which could be used by the prosecutor against you at trial. Motions to Suppress are extremely important if your attorney believes that your rights could have been violated during your DUI arrest. A knowledgeable and competent Gainesville DUI attorney will be able to sift through the details surrounding your arrest to make certain that evidence that was improperly obtained will not be permitted in the prosecution of your case. If your attorney files a Motion to Suppress, another court date will be set to hear each sideâ€™s point of view on the motion. IN MOST DUI CASES, THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS HEARING CAN BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ACTUAL TRIAL and you will need an experienced Alachua County DUI attorney to aggressively fight for you during this step in the DUI process.
Some example grounds upon which Motions to Suppress have been filed are:
- Proving that the initial stop of your vehicle was done without reasonable suspicion or probable cause;
- Arguing that the procedures used by law enforcement in setting up a roadblock/checkpoint stop was not in accordance with Florida law;
- Disputing that sufficient probable cause existed to show you were driving under the influence;
- Law enforcement violated your rights by failing to issue Miranda warnings;
- Attacking the credibility of the breath test used to administer your breath test based on scientific evidence;
- Failing to preserve evidence.
- Should you be unable to get evidence dismissed or should no acceptable plea bargain be made, the next and final step of the process will be setting your case for trial. Except for in a few situations, your trial will most likely be a jury trial with six (6) of your peers determining whether or not you should be found guilty of driving under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt. A DUI jury trial is an incredibly complex practice, which requires a great deal of experience in planning and preparing your best defense for trial. You will want to make certain you are hiring an attorney with a lot of trial experience in DUI cases, as DUI cases are some of the most multifaceted types of criminal cases, involving medical, chemical and electronic evidence.
At the Law Offices of Terry N. Silverman, P.A., in Gainesville, Florida, we are focused on fighting DUI cases in Gainesville, Florida as well as in all of our surrounding counties (Columbia, Marion, Levy, Gilchrist, Bradford, Union, etc...). We offer more than forty years of DUI trial experience and knowledge and we work hard to stay ahead of the ever changing landscape of DUI defense.
If you need to speak with an experienced DUI attorney in the Gainesville and Alachua County area, including: Lake City, Live Oak, Lake Butler, Ocala, Hawthorne, Newberry, Archer, High Springs, Alachua, Fort White, Chiefland, Bronson, Micanopy, and Starke; please contact our office at 352-377-0770 to schedule your free initial consultation.