What Do I Do If I Get Arrested for DUI?
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Florida, we recommend taking the following actions:
Invoke Your Constitutional Right to Remain Silent with Law Enforcement
Post Bail to Get Out of Jail
Obtain a Hardship License
Write Down all the Details of Your Arrest and Hire an Attorney
Reclaim Your Life While Your Attorney Fights the Case
Decide Whether to Accept a Plea Deal or Go to Trial
After being arrested for drinking and driving, you may be feeling stressed, panicked or helpless. You may have several questions such as:
- Will my license be suspended?
- How will I be able to get to work?
- Will I lose my job or professional license?
- Will a DUI charge stay on my record permanently?
No matter the circumstances regarding your Florida DUI, facing such charges are daunting for anyone. In this article, we will guide you through a series of steps that we recommend you take if you are arrested for drunk driving in Florida.
Step 1: Invoke Your Constitutional Right to Remain Silent with Law Enforcement
From the moment an officer pulls you over, anything you say can and will be used against you in the investigation law enforcement creates. Some people believe that they can talk their way out of a DUI investigation whether it is by being polite, friendly, or persuasive.
Unfortunately, if a police officer pulls you over with the suspicion that you have been drinking and driving, you will almost certainly be arrested for DUI.
An officer does not need a lot of evidence to place someone under arrest for drinking and driving. All that the police need is “probable cause”, or a reasonable suspicion, that you are impaired in some way in order to arrest you.
The difficult reality is that there are very few outcomes of a DUI investigation that do not result in your arrest. Therefore, the steps at this stage are not geared towards avoiding an arrest, but rather increasing your odds to win your case and beat your DUI charge after the arrest.
Next, it is important to know that every part of your interaction with law enforcement is documented so that it can be used against you in court. The more you talk, the more a state prosecutor can make claims regarding your impairment. They can say your speech is slurred, your eyes are bloodshot, and bring in the officer as a witness to say alcohol was on your breath.
A DUI defense attorney, on the other hand, understands that an encounter with the police can be intimidating and cause you to stumble over your words or bring about other behavior that is characteristic of stress and nervousness. Nonetheless, the best way you can maximize the strength of your case is by telling the officer you would like to exercise your right to remain silent.
If the officer asks you to complete field sobriety tests, you should refuse them. These tests are a way for officers to create more evidence to justify their opinion of your impairment. Your completion of them will not make an officer more likely to believe you are sober. Furthermore, there is no legal consequence in the state of Florida for your refusal. As mentioned previously, the outcome of the interaction will likely result in your arrest, but refusing these tests is not the direct reason for your arrest.
If you find yourself in the back of a cop car, you should continue exercising your right to be silent. Many police officers have body cameras that continue rolling throughout the entire course of your interaction with them. Many individuals have compromised themselves by saying something incriminating while in police custody which in turn severely strains their case in court.
This still holds true when in jail or a holding facility. The Broward Couty Jail records all their phone calls and anything you say on them can be used in court. If you are placed in a holding facility, you should only use the phone in order to coordinate with a loved one on how to get out of jail.
Step 2: Get Out of Jail by Posting Bail
If you are taken to jail for DUI, there is a good chance that you qualify to post bail. When possible, pay the bail immediately so that you are able to get out of jail and be reunited with your family.
If you cannot afford to post bail, you can also hire a bondsman to post a bond for you. A bondsman will pay the amount in full in exchange for a 10% fee based on the bond amount.
Just keep in mind that the bondsman will be responsible for ensuring that you show up to court and pay back the bond in full. If you do not show up for court or pay back the bond, a bounty hunter will be dispatched to locate you and recover their bond and release you to the authorities.
Most Criminal and DUI Defense Attorneys have bondsman contacts they can refer you to if you need help contracting a bondsman to pay to get you or a loved one out of jail.
Additionally, you may need to have your car retrieved from an impound facility or lot if the police had your car towed. We do not recommend you call the police to figure out where your car is; rather, we recommend having your DUI defense attorney find out that information for you.
Step 3: Obtain a Hardship License
In the State of Florida, you have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to obtain a hardship license. This is key in restoring your ability to reclaim your life and livelihood.
Your physical driver’s license immediately becomes suspended when you get arrested for DUI. The citation the officer gives you will, at that point, become a temporary driver’s license. With it, you can only drive to work or some other place where you have a business matter to attend to. Make sure you keep it with you if you drive anywhere after your arrest.
Next, you must choose whether to schedule an administrative hearing with the Florida DMV to reinstate and restore your driver’s license or forfeit your right to the hearing in exchange for immediately receiving a hardship license.
Your hardship license lasts the entire duration of your 6 to 12 month driver’s license suspension. It can only be used for business purposes and you must enroll in DUI school before you can obtain it.
If you have been previously convicted for DUI, you will not be eligible for a hardship license. In that scenario, you can still request an administrative review to have your normal license reinstated.
Step 4: Write Down all the Details of Your Arrest and Hire a Defense Attorney
One of the most crucial steps involved in achieving the best result possible for your case is hiring a private DUI defense attorney. This is mainly because a public defender is severely limited with his or her resources and time. They also do not have the same allowances a private attorney has such as getting a criminal record expunged.
(Disclaimer: a DUI charge cannot be expunged from your record. What CAN happen, however, is a private attorney can win your case by having it reduced to a lower charge, such as reckless driving, which then can be sealed from your public record).
It is important to write down all the details regarding the circumstances of your arrest. Any details you remember can be used for your defense and can potentially help your case. Examples are:
- Your conversation with the officer(s)
- What you had to drink
- Whether or not you did Field Sobriety Tests
- Whether or not you took a Breath Test
- How the police made you feel in their treatment of you
- Anything else you think may be relevant
This is important because if the police made any mistakes or violated your rights, a Florida DUI Defense Attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence collected illegally against you.
Other things a Florida DUI Defense Attorney can do to strengthen your case is:
- Examine the scene
- Hire experts to comment on elements of your case
- Depose witnesses
- Obtain 911 calls
- Obtain police reports
- Communicate with law enforcement on your behalf
- Communicate with prosecutors
Whether or not you believe you are “guilty”, there are always several strategies of attack a savvy Florida DUI Defense Attorney can make to help you achieve the best result possible for your case. If you are unsure how to find an ethical DUI Defense Attorney to represent you, you can click the link below to learn more.
Step 5: Reclaim Your Life While Your Attorney Fights Your Case
It is important to take steps to return to normalcy in your personal life because depending on the complexity of your case, it can take a significant amount of time to resolve.
Your attorney can have you sign what is known as a “waiver of appearance”, which is a document that allows an attorney to represent you at court on your behalf. Doing this will allow you to continue going to work instead of having to take several days out of your schedule to go to court.
During this time, your attorney will ask you to do certain things that will strengthen your case. For instance, you may have the opportunity to enroll in DUI school. Completing this diversion program can be a key step in beating your DUI case because it shows prosecutors your proactivity. This often makes them more open to negotiating your charges and other mitigation strategies that your DUI Defense attorney employs.
The prosecution’s main goal is to prevent the spread of crime in our society. If you complete the defense attorney’s mitigation steps like enrolling in DUI school, it can convince the prosecutors that you are not a risk behind the wheel.
Your DUI Defense Attorney may even come to a deal with prosecutors during this stage to give you an extremely favorable resolution to the case. Your defense attorney may get the prosecutors to drop your charge from “driving under the influence” to a reduced charge like reckless driving. It is often in your best interest to accept this deal when offered.
Many people think that prosecutors just want to put people in jail; this, fortunately, is mostly not the case. There are many times that the defense and prosecution can come up with a mutually beneficial outcome.
Step 6: Decide Whether to Accept a Plea Deal or Go to Trial
Ideally, your Florida DUI Defense Attorney has been able to come up with a great plea deal for your drinking and driving case. If you are satisfied with the deal, we highly recommend that you take it. If you are not, you can choose to take this case to trial where it will be heard before a judge and jury.
We do not recommend in most cases going to trial because there are many variables that you do not have control over. There is a high risk involved and you may receive a strict sentencing. Your fate would be left in the hands of a jury.
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to a DUI trial, you do have say over who will make up the jury. You, your DUI Defense Attorney, and the prosecutor will choose who will hear the case.
There are times when you may want to go to trial, however. Sometimes a prosecutor will be inflexible while negotiating with your DUI Defense Attorney during the pre-trial phase. This can happen if you appear very intoxicated while completing the Field Sobriety Tests or blew significantly over the legal limit on the breathalyzer test. Each prosecutor is different and each case varies. That is why is important to find an honest and ethical Florida DUI Defense Attorney who can fight zealously to represent you in your case.