What happens if I decide to fight my DUI case?

If you decide to fight your DUI, it will be very important to have an experienced lawyer evaluate your DUI case. Quite often, an experienced lawyer can obtain a favorable plea agreement with the State that gets your DUI charge reduced or amended to a “Reckless Driving” charge. This does not look as bad on your record and in all likelihood your insurance rates will not increase. An experienced attorney will also look into filing pre-trial motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case based on mistakes made by the police. I have been handling DUI cases for 28 years as a former State prosecutor and as a DUI defense lawyer. We are often successful in getting the charge reduced to a Reckless Driving.

There are two aspects to your DUI case. First, there is the administrative suspension of your driver’s license if you took a breath test and the result was a .08 or above (6-month suspension) or if you refused to take a breath test (1-year suspension). These suspensions occur irrespective of whether you have been found guilty in court and are through the Department of Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee. We will guide you through the process so that you will still be able to drive during these suspension periods. If you are a first-time offender, we will advise you on how to obtain a “Business Purposes Only” license to drive to work, the store, church, and other necessary places you must drive in order to earn money and survive. We will also look into fighting the suspension if the police followed the wrong protocol in administering the breath test or advising you of your implied consent to take it.

Second, there is the actual criminal DUI case which takes place in County Criminal Traffic Court before a county court judge. If you hire us we may be able to save you the time and aggravation of appearing in court as we often are able to waive your appearance. The attorney shows up and you never have to go to court until the very end of the case. We will obtain all police reports and look into the possibility of a motion to suppress all the evidence in your case. This can happen if the police lacked probable cause to stop you for suspicion of DUI or for a traffic infraction. It can also happen if the police did not have a reasonable suspicion to investigate you for DUI.

We will also obtain the video tape of the scene. In most DUI cases, the entire encounter between you and the police is video recorded from a mounted camera on the police officer’s dashboard. The video will show your interaction with the officer and also your performance on the field sobriety tests if you chose to take them at the officer’s request. The video is a good way to evaluate whether you looked intoxicated or not. Quite often the police state in their reports that you were visibly intoxicated and performed poorly on the field sobriety tests. Quite often, the video makes it appear as if they are lying. This is a key piece of evidence that either will hurt or help you.

Once we are finished evaluating all of the evidence we are ready to meet with the prosecutor to see if we can come to an agreement to reduce you DUI to a Reckless Driving with no jail time. Sometimes we have to go to supervisory personnel if the answer is “no” the first time. In any case, our objective is to keep a DUI off your record and keep you out of jail. Nothing is guaranteed, except that we will do everything possible to obtain the best possible result for you.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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