Anyone who is under arrest and about to be formally charged with DUI is bursting with questions about what will happen next. Will you be released immediately or held overnight? Will it be in the paper the next day? Will you lose your job? No one is immune from fear of the unknown after a fist-time arrest for DUI.
The answers to all these questions and many more will be provided by an experienced DUI defense lawyer. You should waste no time in calling the best DUI defense lawyer near you. In Tampa, the lawyers at Stechschulte Nell specialize in representing drivers accused of DUI. You will need to make important decisions as your case proceeds. One of those decisions will be whether to take your DUI case to trial. Attorneys Ben Stechschulte and Amy Nell will be by your side, preparing your defense and counseling you through each phase of the prosecution.
Should You Take Your DUI Case to Trial?
The best DUI defense lawyers understand how much pressure a defendant is under to make the best decisions in court. A central part of a defense lawyer’s job is to inform their client of the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence against them. Every case is analyzed by the defense attorney to determine if the arresting officer complied with every procedural requirement while investigating the DUI and in making the arrest.
Deciding whether to go to trial or to negotiate a plea in a DUI case must be based partially on what penalties you could face if convicted. Florida’s DUI penalties include the following possible terms:
- 1st Offense DUI — (BAC above 0.08 but under 0.15): Up to 6 months imprisonment, fine between $500 – $1,000, 6 months loss of license, DUI education program, alcohol counseling, 50 hours of community service
- 1st Offense DUI — (Child in the Vehicle or Blow 0.15 or above): Up to 9 months imprisonment, fine between $1,000 – $2,000, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 6 months,
- 2nd Offense DUI: Up to 12 months imprisonment, fine between $2,000 and $4,000, and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 24 months,
- 3rd Offense DUI: Up to 12 months imprisonment, fine no less the $4,000
- 3rd Offense DUI within 10 years of prior DUI (Felony): Up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Alternatives to DUI Trial:
The decision whether to go to a full trial on a DUI charge depends on several important factors, each of which you will discuss with your DUI defense lawyer:
Strength of the prosecution’s evidence
Likelihood of success in challenging the prosecution’s evidence
- Did the police have reason to stop the driver?
- Were there reasonable grounds to ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests (SFSTs)?
- Did the officer properly administer the SFSTs? (dashcam and bodycam)
- Did the officer properly score the SFSTs? (dashcam and bodycam)
- Did the driver agree to a chemical test (breathalyzer), and was it administered correctly?
Strength of other defenses
- Medical condition or episode
- Injured in accident
Reckless Driving Plea:
Are there facts and circumstances that can be argued to persuade a prosecutor to amend the charge to a different offense that will not lead to the consequences that follow a DUI conviction?
A DUI conviction will create a permanent publicly accessible record that will be a part of the defendant’s life for decades into the future. The conviction will remain visible to their children, their friends, current and prospective employers, loan officers, landlords, and anyone else who cares to look.
On the other hand, if a prosecutor can be convinced by a skilled DUI defense lawyer to change the charge from a DUI to a Reckless Driving offense, the defendant can begin the process of expunging or sealing the records and removing them from the public’s access.
Consequences of Losing a DUI Trial
If you decide to go through with a full trial in a DUI case, you should only do so with the assistance of an extremely skilled, experienced DUI defense attorney. Check the lawyer’s credentials to ensure they have the background you need for the work you are expecting them to perform.
Is your Florida trial attorney Board Certified as a Criminal Defense Lawyer? Don’t be afraid to ask about your lawyer’s credentials and experience. It’s your life and liberty at stake, so your lawyer’s sensitivity about answering your questions should be of little importance. If they resent or resist your questions, choose a different lawyer. Experienced criminal defense lawyers are not sensitive and are willing to discuss anything that relates to your case.
Even the best defense lawyer who possesses the finest courtroom skills can lose a jury verdict or a judge’s decision. The best lawyers ensure that they voice clear objections and file valid legal motions before and during the trial of the case.
If you lose your trial, you have the right to appeal to a higher court that will examine the record of the trial to determine if the trial judge committed errors of law and whether you were denied your right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.
The appellate court also examines whether it appears that the jury verdict is supported by sufficient evidence. If any flaws are identified that are substantial enough to have affected the outcome of the trial, the conviction will be vacated, and the case will be returned to the lower court for a new trial.
Avoiding DUI Convictions
DUI charges can be beaten if you engage the services of a qualified and experienced Board-Certified Criminal Defense attorney who concentrates their practice on DUI defense. DUI cases involve issues and the application of analyses that do not arise in other types of cases. Even an otherwise competent trial lawyer will be less effective than a DUI defense lawyer in handling your DUI charge.
One of the sharpest skills possessed by the experienced DUI defense lawyer is the ability to avoid trying a case when an alternative disposition is in their client’s interest. No lawyer should ever let ego or fear be the basis for a decision to go to trial or to negotiate an alternative plea. Only the facts and the professional judgment of a skilled defense attorney should influence the final trial decision.
Call our DUI defense attorneys at Stechschulte Nell for a case review today; 813-240-1244.