I’ve Been Charged with DUI. Now What?
In Florida, every DUI case is essentially two cases in one. The first case is an administrative case against your driver’s license. If you blew over a .08 or refused to provide the police with a sample, the police most likely took your license away. That was the beginning of the administrative suspension case. The second case is a court case and can also end in a suspension. The administrative case resolves much more quickly while the court case may take 4-6 months to unfold.
You have 10 days to take action to preserve your driving privilege, which is why it is crucial to act quickly. You have ten days from the time of your arrest to request a hearing to contest your suspension or enroll in DUI school to get a temporary license while your case is resolved. The correct option for you depends on the facts of your case. Without the advice of a lawyer who is familiar with the proper format for the documentation, it is very difficult to make a choice.
It’s probably preferable to forego your hearing and sign up for DUI School if you can’t afford legal representation and your license has never been revoked before for an alcohol-related crime. If done correctly, you can receive an immediate BPO license that will allow you to drive to and from what is necessary to “maintain livelihood”.
The other option is to demand a hearing on your administrative license suspension. However, if you lose, the license suspension begins with “hard time” suspension with no eligibility of a BPO license. If your BAC was over.08, this “hard time” lasts for 30 days; if you refuse to give a sample, it lasts for 90 days. You won’t have an alternative if your license HAS already been suspended for a DUI-related violation. You must request an administrative hearing on the suspension of your license. Additionally, you will be subject to that hard penalty if you lose. Which option is optimal for you can only be determined by a skilled DUI attorney. However, one thing is certain. You must act promptly since the paperwork needs to be completed and filed by midnight of the tenth day following your arrest.
There is a lengthy wait following the administrative case’s first frenzy of action. Your “hard time” suspension will start if you can’t hire an attorney within the allotted ten days and don’t take care of your license with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The most crucial aspect of the case, the criminal charge, will be handled by a lawyer after a week or two or three.
If you don’t have a lawyer by now, then you will have to make plans to attend your “arraignment.” When you were let out of jail, they handed you this court date. If you hire a private attorney, they’ll probably advise you against wasting your time in court. However, you must appear if you do not have counsel by the time of your arraignment. But, don’t worry, it is not your case’s trial. Only during the initial formal hearing will you be officially informed of the charges and given the opportunity to enter a plea. (Hint: If you don’t yet have a lawyer, ALWAYS plead Not Guilty.)
They will often grant you time to get a lawyer if you attend the arraignment and let them know you don’t currently have one. However, it’s possible that your case may drag on for three or four more months while discovery is exchanged, motions are submitted, and plea bargaining is done. Keep in frequent contact with your attorney throughout this period. It’s crucial that your lawyer is informed if you relocate, change your phone number, or email address. The last thing you want to happen is to forget a court date and have an arrest warrant issued against you.
Getting a DUI can be overwhelming and complicated. Let us relieve you of that burden. For more than 50 years, we have represented those charged with DUI in Florida. You can reach us through our website here or call us for a free consultation.