At What Point In The DUI Case Is A Plea Deal Typically Offered?

The timing of a plea offer can vary from county to county in Florida. In most counties, the plea offer is sent to the defense attorney with the written discovery (that is with the police reports and witness statements). All that is included in discovery and normally, when that's sent out, it is sent out along with a plea offer. That doesn't happen in every case. Sometimes, the state is holding back on making a plea offer until they know more about someone's criminal history.

What Types Of Plea Offers Might Be Available For Your DUI Client?

There are three pleas: guilty, not guilty, and no contest. A guilty plea is a complete admission to all the elements of the crime. That would mean that you were on or in a motor vehicle and in actual physical control of it at a time when your breath alcohol or blood alcohol was over 0.8, or at a time when you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired. Those are the elements of the crime of DUI, so a guilty plea admits all of those elements. A no contest plea is not an admission. It's just simply saying you don't want to fight the charge anymore, but you don't admit anything. The advantage of a no contest plea is if there is an accident, it cannot be used later on as evidence against the defendant in a civil case because it's not an admission. The final plea is not guilty, which means “we want a trial.”

Can My Attorney Possibly Plea Bargain To Something Lower Than A DUI?

There is always a possibility of cases getting resolved with a reduction to something below the original charge. It's not a guarantee. When I started practicing law 40 years ago, almost everyone got a reckless driving reduction on their first DUI. It's not that way anymore but there is an incentive, on the part of most prosecutors, to try to not spend a lot of time in trial, especially on cases where the person has not been in trouble before. Depending on what the facts of the case are, the state might agree to just completely dismiss a DUI charge, or to have someone plead guilty to a traffic infraction, like careless driving.

What Happens At A DUI Pretrial Hearing? Are These Held In All DUI cases?

A pre-trial is not actually a hearing; it's a conference involving the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney. The pre-trial conference is concerned with housekeeping issues, like whether there will be any pretrial motions filed and if so, when they're going to be heard and how long it's going to take to get them filed with the clerk. It also allows the court to supervise the exchange of information between the parties, so that the case can be kept moving through the system. Sometimes, the defense believes that there's evidence it's entitled to and the state hasn't given it. Those issues can be addressed at pre-trial conferences as well. Pretrial conferences allow the parties to work out all of these kinds of disagreements under the eye of the court and to schedule hearings or schedule the trial.

Can My Case Be Dismissed At Pretrial?

It's pretty rare for a case to simply be dismissed during a pretrial conference. If it happens, it's normally the result of something that was negotiated at an earlier stage in the proceeding. The pretrial is when lawyers begin to see the weaknesses of their own case and that makes both sides more willing to compromise. The pretrial process is really about finding out about the case. If every case went to trial, the legal system would grind to a halt. In order to avoid that, the legal system compromises.

If you have a compromise, neither side gets everything they want. Both sides recognize they're not 100 percent correct and they agree to something in the middle. Sometimes, it can be a bad system that puts pressure on an innocent person to plead guilty to something they know they didn't do.

For more information on Plea Deals In DUI Cases In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (941) 219-5553 today.

Board Certification in DUI Defense

Board_20Certification_20Certificate-small.jpg

Tom Hudson passed the National Board Certification Examination (written and oral) in Honolulu in 2008, and was recertified in 2013. He was one of the first 50 lawyers granted national board certification in DUI Defense, and is nationally recognized as an authority in DUI law.

Why We're Different

Board Certification as a DUI Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense. Formal NHTSA Certification as an Instructor of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests given by police in DUI cases. Formal training as a NHTSA Drug Recognition Evaluator. ("Drug Evaluation & Classification") Formal training to operate the Intoxilyzer 8000, Florida's official breath test instrument. Extensive experience in teaching other attorneys how to handle DUI cases. Hundreds of jury trials both as defense lawyer and as prosecutor. Florida's State Delegate to the National College for DUI Defense.