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The Importance of Timing in a DUI Case

As a South Florida criminal attorney, I do not like to rush things. I believe that time is your friend when you are facing criminal charges. I believe that time permits a good criminal lawyer to do a complete investigation of the case.
However, when you are arrested for a DUI in the State of Florida, your driver's license is suspended upon the issuance of the DUI citation. In fact, there is (or at least should be) language in your actual citation that informs you of this license suspension. This is the statutory notice requirement.
In Florida, if you submit to the breath test and the result is .08 or higher, your driving privilege is suspended for 6 months.
If you refuse to submit to the breath test, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year.
So when it comes to taking your time, you should not wait to retain a DUI attorney. If you are planning on retaining a private attorney (which I strongly recommend when facing any criminal charges) you must contact the attorney within a few days of your arrest. This is because the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) only gives you ten (10) days from the date of your arrest to challenge the license suspension. This means that within 10 days of your arrest, you must file an application with the DHSMV's Bureau of Administrative Review setting a formal review hearing. This is commonly referred to as a DUI administrative hearing.
If a hearing is set within the ten days period (and yes, weekends are counted), the DHSMV will issue you a temporary driving permit which will allow you to drive to and from work for up to 42 days.
If you do not set this hearing, your DUI citation will suffice as a temporary 10-day driving permit. After the expiration of 10 days, you will have a suspended driver's license. If you continue to drive, you can be arrested for DWLS (driving while license suspended).
As I have stated before, if you have a previous license suspension for a previous DUI charge, you can be arrested and charged with a separate crime if you refuse to submit to the breath test. This is called second or subsequent refusal and is a misdemeanor of the first-degree.
You only have a true right to refuse if you have never had your license suspended for failing to submit to a breath test.
Living in Miami-Dade or Broward, you know how critical it is that you have the ability to drive. Given the geographical layouts of the two counties, we live in too widespread an area to go without a driver's license. You cannot rely on friends and family, nor public transportation. Be honest. You need to be able to drive.
When you are arrested for DUI, your whole world turns upside down. Not only are you facing a possible license suspension, but you are looking at jail time, probation, stiff fines, and mandatory vehicle impoundment. And that's on your first DUI!
If you blow and the breath result is .15 or higher, you face enhanced penalties for a first DUI. These enhanced penalties include mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device and double the standard DUI fine. If convicted at trial, you also face 270 days (9 months) in jail, as opposed to 180 days (6 months) for an ordinary DUI.
Florida has some of the toughest DUI penalties in the country. There is a mandatory conviction for every DUI. When I take on a DUI, I understand that the effects of pleading guilty can last for a lifetime. Your insurance rates will go up (if your insurance company decides to keep you) and you will have a conviction on your record for 75 years.
DUIs can be fought on many levels. You can attack the sufficiency of the stop, the sufficiency of the investigation and arrest, and the sufficiency of the breath machine, should that be the case.
No matter how strong the evidence seems, you should never surrender without a fight. When I was a Miami-Dade prosecutor, I handled countless DUI cases. As a criminal attorney who represents clients charged with DUIs in Miami-Dade and Broward, I believe that all DUIs are based on the hunches of law enforcement officers. While this may be enough to get you arrested, it is not enough to get you convicted. I make the State of Florida do its job in every one of my cases. Only when it is in the client's best interest and after all of the evidence has been thoroughly investigated do I encourage a client to plead no contest. Otherwise, I always fight for dismissal or a breakdown to reckless driving.
If you have been arrested for DUI, call me to discuss your case. If you have been arrested within the past 10 days, we may be able to schedule your DUI administrative hearing so that you can challenge your driver's license suspension.
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