Seven Mistakes to Avoid After a DUI Arrest
Being arrested for DUI is a stressful event that may make you feel uncertain about your future. Unfortunately, that type of stress often leads people to make bad decisions. The more you know, the better prepared you are to avoid missteps that could seriously harm your case or mean surprise consequences after a plea deal. Here are six common mistakes people make after a Florida DUI arrest and how to avoid them and prepare to fight the charges.
This general information is no substitute for legal advice, but can help you avoid missteps until you have the opportunity to consult an experienced Florida DUI attorney.
What Not to Do After a Florida DUI Arrest
- Don’t make the mistake of answering questions or volunteering information to police or other officials during and after your arrest. The right to remain silent is a powerful protection when you’ve been accused of any crime, including driving under the influence. Many people think they are helping themselves by talking to law enforcement, but that’s rarely the case. Sometimes, police will suggest to you that you can help yourself out by cooperating with them, or even imply that they are trying to help you. But there is a reason that members of law enforcement will tell you “anything you say can and will be used against you”, because it will be used against you. Additionally, the police may lead you into making the statement from which a prosecutor may later cherry-pick one or two statements that appears to strengthen their case. Further, if you have been drinking your judgment and reactions may be impacted. In fact sometimes even the way an individual attempts to communicate with a member of law enforcement can be incriminating. So do yourself a favor and exercise your constitutional right to remain silent, chances are you’ll be glad you did.
- Don’t make assumptions about how the story ends. Your instinct may be to panic and assume all is lost as soon as you are pulled over or if you are in fact arrested. Visions of jail, job loss, financial stress, and family conflicts may be dancing in your head. But giving into despair will never help to improve your situation. Instead, try to remain calm. Remember that we have a judicial system that affords you a litany of rights and guarantees you due process of law. Likewise, by reaching out to an experienced Jacksonville defense lawyer you can learn about the legal process, what protections you are afforded, and also about potential problems with the prosecution’s case against you.
- Don’t ignore your arrest. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed or scared to start dealing with an arrest for DUI. But burying your head in the sand and hoping things will spontaneously improve is a recipe for disaster. Likewise given the unique nature of DUI arrests and the impact they can have on your ability to drive you may lose out on some serious options if you don’t retain the services of a skilled defense attorney within the first few days following your arrest. In fact, you only have 10 days following an arrest to take advantage of your potential administrative options which could protect your right to drive or improve your chances of victory at an eventual trial.
- Don’t plead guilty at your first appearance. Within 24 hours of your arrest for a DUI you will be taken before a judge for a first appearance. The primary purpose of this court date is to determine an appropriate bail and for the Judge to determine if any further conditions need to be added to ensure the protection of the community. That said, oftentimes at this initial court date defendant’s are offered the option to plead guilty and resolve their case. Unfortunately making such a plea is almost always a mistake. Remember at this stage of the process you haven’t had an opportunity to speak thoroughly with any attorney, nor have you had an opportunity to review the evidence the State of Florida has against you. So don’t make a rash decision, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you make an informed decision.
- Don’t drive on a suspended license. In Florida, law enforcement officers typically issue a notice of suspension when a driver refuses a blood alcohol test or tests above the legal limit of .08% or if a driver refuses to provide a blood, breath, or urine sample. Now if the driver is eligible, they will be issued a temporary permit, but it’s only valid for 10 days. Driving after the administrative suspension takes effect is a separate crime, which can not only send you back to jail, but will normally make your legal headache significantly more complicated. However, with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney you may be able to challenge the suspension of your license. But you only have 10 days to do so, so it’s important to talk to a Florida DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
- Don’t miss court dates, arrive late, or behave inappropriately in court. Failure to appear as ordered can result in arrest and the revocation of your bond. Likewise, how you conduct yourself in court may also impact the prosecutor’s willingness to enter into a favorable plea deal or could influence the judge’s decisions on sentencing. Ideally, you’ll hire your DUI attorney before your first court appearance and your lawyer will fully prepare you for your court appearance. But, if you appear alone, be on time, dress appropriately, and be sure to be polite to everyone involved. That said, being polite does not require that you engage in any discussion of your case with the prosecuting attorney. It’s in your best interest to avoid any substantive discussion of your case with anyone other than your lawyer.
- Don’t try to go it alone. DUI cases can be more complex than you may realize, and more complex than the prosecution wants you to know about. A criminal defense attorney who is experienced with DUI cases will be able to collect and review evidence, identify possible defenses and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, negotiate for a more favorable plea agreement, and if it’s in your best interest argue your case before a jury. Criminal cases move quickly, and it’s easy to make critical mistakes as you navigate the process alone, so the sooner you talk to an attorney, the better.
Finding the Best DUI Lawyer for You
Another mistake some people make after a DUI arrest is to hire the wrong attorney. Mistakes like this could arise if you hire a general practice attorney who handled your divorce case, or a friend of the family who just happens to be a lawyer, or just picking someone whose website says they handle Florida DUI cases. With your freedom, your driver’s license, your wallet, and perhaps much more on the line, it’s important that you invest in finding the best DUI lawyer for your case.
Attorney Matthew Lufrano has devoted his entire legal career to criminal defense. He has represented clients charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to murder, and has taken several dozen criminal cases to jury trials. Mr. Lufrano also previously served as President of the Jacksonville chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is Board Certified as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar.
Mr. Lufrano understands how stressful and confusing facing a DUI charge or other criminal charges can be, and knows that you need reliable information right away. That’s why he offers free consultations to people charged with crimes in Florida. To schedule yours, call 904-513-3905 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.
Since graduating from law school and passing the Bar Exam in 2009, Matthew Lufrano has practiced exclusively as a criminal defense attorney and his sole focus has been defending the rights of the accused. As a defense attorney, Mr. Lufrano has tried 75 jury trials to verdict and in 2017 the Florida Bar recognized Mr. Lufrano as a Board Certified Expert in Criminal Trial Law. Today Mr. Lufrano not only owns and operates Lufrano Legal, P.A., but he also serves as the President for Jacksonville’s local chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.