Being arrested for DUI is always a tremendously upsetting experience. At the top of the list of the arrestee’s concerns is how and when they will be released from police custody. Unless the person has been arrested previously, the process that follows an arrest is a mystery.
This blog post explains what happens when a person is arrested in Florida for DUI, what the police will do during the time the person is detained, and how the process of getting released from jail works.
What Happens Before You Get Bail in a Florida DUI?
Once a police officer arrests a suspected DUI driver, and the breathalyzer process is completed, the officer will decide whether to file a DUI complaint. If they do charge the person with DUI, then they will need to transport the suspect to the station area where the person will be “processed,” or “booked.” The booking process involves recording all the soon-to-be defendant’s physical and social data, height, weight, eye color, scars, tattoos, age, address, occupation, etc. Then a booking officer will fingerprint and photograph the suspect to ensure they will always be able to identify the same person in the future.
After the suspected DUI driver is fully processed, they will be held in jail until any one of three events occurs:
- the arrestee is no longer under the influence,
- the arrestee’s blood or breath alcohol level (BAC) falls beneath 0.05, or
- 8 hours have passed from the time they were arrested.
It’s unlikely that the police will continue to give you periodic breath tests to determine your BAC level once you are booked, so the 8-hour hold is the standard detention in a DUI arrest. The purpose of holding you for that period is to ensure that your intoxicated state no longer poses a risk to you or others on the road after your release.
How to Get Out of Jail on a DUI in Florida
The length of time you remain in jail after a Florida DUI arrest depends largely on the nature and seriousness of the facts. In a conventional, first-offense DUI, the release process is typically very simple. However, if the DUI involves someone who was seriously injured or killed, then an otherwise simple DUI can become a more complex felony.
Following a first-time DUI arrest not involving any complicating factors, arrangements to release the suspect can begin immediately (although they may not leave until 8 hours following their arrest).
How Bail Works
The law provides that the authorities may set a reasonable bail that you must post before you are released. Bail is intended to be security for the state that you will return to court when scheduled to face the criminal charge. The amount of bail can be no more than $500 for a first-time DUI arrestee with no prior criminal record. But the bail amount can be substantially higher for repeat offenders or more serious felony DUI charges.
If the DUI arrestee pays the bail, they will be released with their promise to return to court for their arraignment at which time they will enter their formal plea to the charges. However, if the arrestee can’t pay the bail themselves, they can have family and friends provide the bail money.
If the arrestee honors their obligation to return to court throughout the time the case is pending, then the bail money will be refunded when the case is closed, regardless of the outcome of the case.
If the DUI arrestee and their family can’t pay the bail, then they may choose to hire a bail bond agency that will post the bail in exchange for a fee, usually equal to 10% of the bail amount. For example, if the bail required to obtain your release from jail is set at $10,000, the bail bond agency will post $10,000 as surety for your appearance at future court dates. For that service, they will charge the defendant $1,000.
But the bail bond is not that simple. The bail bond agency is risking their $10,000 if the arrestee fails to appear in court. They won’t take that risk unless you can offer them collateral for the amount of the bail being posted. Collateral may be in the form of real estate, personal property, or anything legal that has sufficient value to cover the bail amount if necessary.
Learn More > How Bail Bonds Work
What If You Can’t Post Bail?
If you are unable to post bail either with the help of your family or by contracting with a bail bond agency with the bail amount initially set, you will remain in custody until you are brought before a judge for an “initial appearance.”
At the “initial appearance,” a neutral judge will review the charges against you and the facts alleged in the police report. The purpose of this review is to determine if probable cause exists to support the charge against you. For this limited session, the judge assumes the police report is true. But even if true, the police may be charging a crime for which the facts don’t meet all the legal requirements.
If the judge thinks the facts are insufficient to support probable cause, then the police will have an opportunity to supplement the details. If the judge is still not satisfied, then the judge can dismiss the charge for lack of probable cause and release you completely. While legally possible, this is an extremely rare event.
More commonly, the judge who has reviewed all the allegations in detail has a better understanding of precisely what criminal conduct a defendant is accused of. With a DUI, the case can be a simple 0.08 BAC reading or DUI manslaughter. The initial appearance judge is empowered to reduce the bail amount requested by the prosecution if they think:
- the defendant has no priors or a minor previous record,
- the defendant has substantial ties to the community (family, real estate, longtime resident)
- the defendant is employed
- the facts are not serious enough to entice the defendant to flee
- the defendant has few if any connections out of state
- the amount of bail set is sufficient to secure their appearance in court and their good behavior.
Learn More > The True Costs of a DUI Conviction
Tampa DUI Defense
If you have been charged with DUI and are having trouble with bail, call our experienced criminal defense lawyers at Stechschulte Nell to defend your case. Call 813-280-1244.