1. Not taking the matter seriously.
This is a charge that will be on your record for the rest of your life if you are convicted. A subsequent DUI offense can land you in even more trouble as penalties increase on subsequent DUI arrests. Your auto insurance will go up. You risk losing your driver’s license.
2. Not hiring an attorney.
DUI law in Florida is complex, and thus you need competent representation. You must raise the right defenses at the right time or you will lose them. Evidence can disappear over time, memories of officers and witnesses can fade over time, and witnesses move or disappear. A case that is winnable can quickly turn into a loser if you do not hire counsel immediately after being arrested to defend your case.
3. Hiring an attorney based on the amount of the fee.
The State has almost unlimited resources when it comes to prosecuting you. You need to hire an attorney and pay a fee based on a flat fee or hourly rate to defend your interests. Budget lawyers sometimes will not put the time and effort into your case as an attorney that may only cost a little more. Look for a reasonable fee; not the lowest.
4. Administrative Hearing Request
Not requesting an administrative hearing within 10 days after a DUI arrest can result in losing your right to drive and license. If you do not timely request an administrative hearing, you will not be able to drive for 180 days to 1 year for a first offense. You will not be able to drive during this period for any reason- work or personal.
5. Driving after your license has been suspended.
You have no right to drive while under suspension and an arrest for driving while your license is suspended carries the same penalty range as a first offense DWI. If arrested for driving during this time, you may be arrested and have to post a bond just to get out of jail. If convicted, you face a minimum one year suspension of your driving privileges in addition to any suspension you are still serving, plus you would get a fine and could get up to 6 months in jail.
6. Not subpoenaing the officer to be present at your administrative hearing.
If you do not subpoena the officer to be present at the hearing, then only evidence at this hearing will be the officer’s report, and you will not hear how the officer will testify. Your attorney can learn many things at this hearing, including how the officer will testify in your criminal case, if the officer testifies at the administrative hearing. If the officer fails to appear or justify his/her conduct, then you should get your license back.
7. Taking the State Attorney’s first offer.
The first offer is not a bargain, it’s just to get rid of your case with the least amount of work. Few cases are dismissed (“nolle pros”) or reduced to a non-alcohol related charge at this early stage. And even so, doing so gives up your right to raise Constitutional and other issues, and make the State prove its case.
8. Failure to appear in Court.
The Court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and revoke any bond that was given to you when you bailed out of jail. The next time you are stopped by the police for any reason, even if not arrested again, you will be put in jail and likely not given another bond to leave jail until your trial. It is in the judge’s discretion to give you another (and likely higher) bond.
9. Discussing the case with anyone but your attorney.
Don’t talk to anyone but an attorney about your case. Anything you say to them can be used against you in Court (or calls from jail recorded if you have not bailed out).
10. Shopping Around for Attorneys.
Don’t think that trying to get bits of free advice from consultations with attorneys will allow you to handle your case on your own. You need to have an attorney go to Court with you. You need to hire an attorney that you’re comfortable with and that you feel represents your best interest, such as the lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael D. Stewart.
The Law Offices of Michael D. Stewart