DUI and DWI, the charges that are referred to as “drunk driving”, are considered criminal offenses in every state in the U.S. This means that any DUI or DWI charge in Florida will be handled in criminal court. When preparing to deal with your charge, you likely have many questions and concerns about how you might construct a defense.
A DUI conviction can hold many severe penalties and consequences. Therefore, the best manner by which you can protect yourself is to immediately retain the legal representation of a trusted attorney. Once you have secured representation, you will begin to speak with your attorney about the specifics and details of your case.
These details will provide you and your attorney with a picture of your legal situation and the best form of defense to pursue. Any factor you may be able to communicate or recall will be beneficial in determining how to proceed -- from the moment you were pulled over at a traffic stop, to any conversation you had with law enforcement, and details about the field sobriety tests that may have been administered to you.
Three Categories of DUI Defense: Suppression Defense, Affirmative Defense, and Defense That Negates An Element
A very common defense strategy for DUI cases is to request that the court exclude incriminating evidence when deciding your case. This process is started when your DUI lawyer files a Motion to Suppress.
In order to file a Motion to Suppress, your criminal defense lawyer must have grounds to do so. This refers to the legal rationale that makes it reasonable to ask for the evidence to be excluded. A skilled DUI defense attorney will be looking for any reason to challenge a number of factors of the DUI investigation.
These challenges can arise from mistakes or improper procedure by an officer such as: the traffic stop; field sobriety tests; blood, urine, and breath tests; and more.
Affirmative defenses can be very risky and are not commonly recommended. This is because in any affirmative defense, you affirm (or, admit) that you were indeed driving under the influence.
The defense in this case, comes from the argument that the circumstances under which you were driving while intoxicated were such that you had no other option. In this case, you would need to convince the jury that you should not be found guilty because of the extreme situation you found yourself in. Some of the affirmative defenses and a brief explanation of each are listed below:
- Necessity - Very infrequently useful. May emerge from medical emergencies and natural disasters, or domestic violence and fear for the safety of children.
- Duress - Very infrequently useful. May emerge from a situation where DUI occurred due to the threat of harm or death from a person immediately able to carry out violence on your or your child.
- Entrapment - Very infrequently useful. May emerge from a situation where an undercover officer convinces you that you are okay to drive after buying you drinks. This defense is more commonly used in situations involving the sale/purchase of drugs.
- Mistaken Fact - May be applicable if you have been given drinks you believed to be non-alcoholic, or if there was an unforeseen interaction with a prescription medication. Not all jurisdictions in Florida recognize this defense, and it can often be unsuccessful.
- Involuntary Intoxication - Usually only applicable when a person has been given a date rape drug.
Defense That Negates An Element
Defenses that negate an element are concerned with the three elements which the state must prove in order to convict on a DUI charge. These elements are: That you were driving or in control of a vehicle; That you were doing so while under the influence of alcohol or another substance; That you were impaired in your ability to drive due to the influence of alcohol or another substance.
It may be possible to form a defense based on negating any one or combination of these elements. However, it is imperative to speak with an attorney before making any decision.
DUI Defense in Sarasota, FL and Key West, FL
If you have been charged with DUI or DWI in Florida, you are likely seeking the help of the best DUI attorney available to you. When considering the application of any of the defense methods mentioned in this article, it is imperative that you speak at length with a knowledgeable attorney in order to determine how you might achieve the best outcome.
The Hudson Law Office has been nationally recognized for its excellent practices and success in casework. If you are seeking the representation of a trusted and fierce advocate, don't hesitate to contact our offices in Sarasota, FL at (941) 219-5553, or in Key West, FL at (786) 579-2100 for a complimentary consultation today.