Anatomy of a DUI Case

DUI Law Is Complex – You need a defense lawyer that doesn’t just take DUI cases, but focuses his practice on DUI defense!

If you have been arrested for DUI, the most important thing on your list of priorities is educate yourself before speaking with a DUI attorney in Miami (you can request a copy of my consumer guide filled with information on DUI, including what to consider when choosing a DUI Lawyer by clicking below).

DUI cases have many layers and can be quite complicated. Many criminal defense lawyers will accept DUI cases, but it is best to trust your case to a Miami DUI lawyer that focuses their practice in drunk driving defense.

In every DUI case, I will carefully review, examine and analyze all pieces of evidence the state intends to use against you and aggressively attack all parts of the prosecutor’s case, including:

  • The Stop - The officer who stops you needs to be able to swear and testify to facts that led him to have a “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over for a crime or traffic violation. Oftentimes, police officers will simply go on a hunch—this is not enough! Even if you fail to signal while changing lanes or turning, or you happen to weave within your lane or even outside your lane, there may still be no grounds for a traffic infraction. If the court rules that there was no legal basis for stopping you, then evidence will get suppressed and the charge is typically dismissed/dropped.
  • The Arrest - When you are arrested for DUI that means the officer feels they had “probable cause.” While this is a lesser standard than what is necessary to convict you at trial, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it is still a high burden for the State to prove if the arrest is challenged in court.
  • Field Sobriety Tests (Exercises) - This is usually what leads to the arresting officer finding probable cause to arrest you for DUI. All field sobriety exercises offered by the officer are subject to attack by a skilled DUI attorney. Even the tests that are approved by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can be challenged so that the officer’s findings are excluded at trial or their weight is minimized.
  • Breath, Blood, Urine Tests - In Florida, anyone who registers a breath test reading of .08 or above is presumed to be driving under the influence. A lot of prosecutors sleep a lot easier when an accused “blows” above a .08. However, the breath test is a critical point of attack in a DUI case.Not only is the reliability of the results under attack by a skilled DUI lawyer, but the maintenance records must be retrieved. A good DUI lawyer that aggressively defends your charge will have obtained the necessary records, not just the machine’s maintenance records but also the breath test operator’s certification documents, challenge the reliability of the breath test results.
  • Refusal to Take a Test - Driving is considered a privilege and not a right in Florida. Meaning that when you opted to operate a vehicle within the state, you have given your “implied consent” to any sobriety test given by law enforcement (the language is even on your driver’s license).If you refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, the officer is supposed to read you a document with Florida’s implied consent laws and potential penalties. You will be forced to sign a refusal and your license will be suspended for 1 year. If this is your second refusal, you will be facing an 18-month suspension and a second, independent crime of “second or subsequent refusal.”Raising challenges to the refusal to submit to a breath test and the implied consent forms is critical in defense of any DUI refusal. Not to mention, the state intends to use evidence of your refusal at trial!

Once you are arrested for DUI you need to get help. Call me today, (305)707-7345, I am someone that will be with you every step of the way so that you can challenge the suspension of your driver’s license with the DMV and do whatever possible to try and get you the best result in your criminal case as well.

 

DMV Hearing: Fighting your license suspension

How can I fight the suspension of my license after a DUI?

The moment you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you immediately have two problems, not just one. Not only do you have to face criminal prosecution for the charge of DUI, but you also have to fight the administrative suspension of your license by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV or commonly referred to as simply DMV).

Once you are arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving your license will be taken and you will get a temporary, 10-day license. From here, you have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to fight the suspension of your license in an Administrative License Suspension Hearings before the Bureau of Administrative Review.

DMV hearings are different from what occurs in criminal court. In Miami, DMV hearings are conducted by the Bureau of Administrative Review and are held at the DHSMV Hearing Office located at 7795 West Flagler Street, inside Mall of the Americas.

If you do not request a hearing, or fail to take action altogether, your license will be suspended pursuant to Florida’s DUI administrative license suspension laws. I only handle a limited number of DUI cases at a time to ensure that you receive the representation you deserve before the DMV and in criminal court.

You need the help of a DUI lawyer in Miami that will personally handle all aspects of your case, I am ready to help, call me now, (305) 707-7345, for a confidential consultation so I may help you challenge the suspension of your license and discuss your case, goals and potential defenses.

Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws in the U.S. If you are arrested for DUI and provide a breath test result that is over a .08, your license will be suspended for six months by the DHSMV (DMV), or for 1 year if you refused. It can also be suspended for 18 months if you refused in the past and had your license suspended as a result (note: if this is your second or subsequent refusal you will also be charged in criminal court, in addition to your DUI, for refusing).

If you request a DMV hearing and the suspension of your driver’s license is upheld, you will serve a mandatory suspension, often referred to as ‘hard time,’ before you are eligible for a hardship (Business Purposes Permit). You will have 30 days of ‘hard time’ if you blew .08 and above and 90 days of ‘hard time’ if you refused.

 

Can I waive formal review and get a hardship?

New Florida Law Allows You Waive Formal Review Hearing

Starting July 1, 2013, the Florida Administrative Suspension Laws changed in that you may be able to request a review of eligibility to obtain a “Business Purpose Only” permit to drive immediately. However, by requesting eligibility review you are waiving your ability to fight the suspension of your license through a formal or informal review hearing.

Before waiving your right to a formal or informal review, speak to a DUI lawyer that will advise you of the pros and cons of doing so. Very often, formal review hearings are crucial to gaining valuable information that can help you defend your criminal case as the arresting officer, breath test operator and other parties can be subpoenaed and forced to testify under oath about your DUI case.

I personally handle all aspects of your case, and I am ready to help. Call, (305) 707-7345, for a confidential consultation so I may help you decide whether challenging the suspension of your license or waiving and seeking eligibility review is in your best interest.

Criminal Court

If your head is still not spinning and pounding after hearing that jail door slam shut with you inside the cell and the dealing with the very real possibility that you will lose your license and be unable to get to work, school or anywhere for that matter without relying on family and friends or the very unreliable public transportation system in Miami, you also have a criminal case to deal with.

DUI cases in Miami are moving faster and faster through the County Court dockets. Below is an explanation of the process you are about to embark on after a DUI arrest:

Arraignment

  • This is your first formal court date that marks the beginning of your case in criminal court. At arraignment you will be informed of the charges the state intends to file against you and you will be asked to enter a plea: “not guilty,” “guilty,” or “no contest.”You should plan to hire a lawyer prior to your arraignment date. If you hire a lawyer and they are able to file written pleadings (typically entering a plea of not guilty, demanding a jury trial and demanding discovery), you will not have to attend the arraignment hearing.

Discovery

  • This is the process in which the state turns over all the evidence they have against you (i.e. arrest affidavit, breath test readings, DUI test report, signed implied consent, video, etc).During the discovery phase, your DUI lawyer should also be preparing your defense and conducting their own investigation, which means they should be reviewing the DUI packet at the DMV, obtaining officer work/time logs, reviewing breathalyzer maintenance records, preparing motions, conducting legal research and defending your administrative license suspension ( this is also a discovery tool that an experienced DUI lawyer will use to fight your criminal case).

Depositions

  • In Florida, depositions are not allowed in Misdemeanor cases (county court) without leave of court (Judge says it’s ok). At a deposition your lawyer can subpoena essential state witnesses and conduct a thorough examination of their testimony while they are under oath. ***Because depositions are not a given in misdemeanor DUI cases, it is imperative you speak to a DUI lawyer before waiving your right to a formal review!***

Sounding (calendar call in Broward and Monroe)

  • This is nothing more than a status hearing so that your lawyer, the prosecutor and the court can be on the same page as to who is going to be ready for trial and who needs more time to prepare or get their witnesses to court. Your lawyer and the prosecutor will also discuss any pretrial motions that are filed, plea offers and engage in plea negotiations.

Pretrial Motions

  • Any challenges to evidence the state intends to use against you are litigated at this time. Anything from arguing to exclude evidence because the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place or improper maintenance of the breathalyzer.

Trial

  • If your case is not resolved through a plea negotiation with the prosecutor or the case is not dropped by the state or dismissed by the Judge, you will then proceed to trial. At trial the state must prove you are guilty of every element of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

What happens at trial?

Below are the stages of a DUI trial:

  • Argue pretrial motions, and/or motions in limine
  • Pick a jury
  • Opening statement
  • State puts on witnesses (cops, breath test operators, etc.)
    • Defense cross examines witnesses to challenge evidence and testimony
  • Defense moves for Judgment of Acquittal
  • Defense puts on evidence if it chooses to do so
  • State’s rebuttal case/evidence
  • Defense renews motion for Judgment of Acquittal
  • Closing Arguments
  • Verdict
  • Sentencing

If you have been arrested for DUI, now is the time to hire an attorney. The sooner, the better. Call me, (305) 707-7345 to discuss your case and schedule a consultation.