Arrested for a DUI? Contact The Morris Firm
Did you get arrested for DUI in Pensacola? If so, contact the Pensacola DUI defense attorney from The Morris Firm today. We have experience fighting for our clients to ensure they receive a fair trial. We understand you’re facing a difficult road ahead. Getting arrested is a frightening situation. You don’t know how it will affect your life, and you need the best possible defense to get the charges dropped or reduced.
When you hire us, you can feel confident that we’ll work vigorously to protect your rights and reach a favorable outcome. You can depend on us to use all the resources at our disposal to disprove the prosecution’s case. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation and review every piece of evidence against you to build a defense proving your innocence. To schedule your confidential consultation with one of our Pensacola criminal defense attorneys and learn how we can help, call us at (850) 503-2626.
Steps in a DUI Case
In Florida, DUI (driving under the influence) charges someone for operating a motor vehicle with impaired abilities or while their blood alcohol level is at .08 or higher. DUI is a serious offense and could result in harsh penalties. You could face jail time, fines, community service, and suspension of your driver’s license. DUI also affects your criminal record and could prevent you from securing a job or getting a higher education.
DUI Test and Arrest
If law enforcement believes there’s probable cause that you committed DUI, they will arrest you. Probable cause means there’s sufficient evidence of a crime. The officer will take you to jail and obtain a breath, blood, or urine sample to determine if you were driving under the influence.
The array of physical and chemical tests you may face if suspected of driving under the influence include:
- Field sobriety test: When you’re pulled over, the police officer may first conduct a field sobriety test (FST), which is a standardized physical and cognitive performance test given to drivers suspected of driving under the influence. The results of the FST may provide the officer with probable cause to arrest the driver.
- Breath test: The driver must submit to a breathalyzer test if an officer requests it.
- Urine test: A urine test can be used to test for the presence of alcohol or another controlled substance.
- Blood test: A blood test can be used to test for the presence and concentration levels of drugs and/or alcohol. Generally, a driver will only be asked to take a blood test if a breath or urine test is not viable.
- Drug DUI: If a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs, a driver may be asked to take a urine or blood test.
Under Florida’s Implied Consent Law, your refusal to take a breath, urine, or blood test could result in the suspension of your license for one year.
Booking and Bail
After the initial arrest and testing for substances, you’ll get taken to jail. Officers will take your mug shot and fingerprints and run your name through a database to check for warrants. If there are no warrants or other charges against you, they will take you to a holding cell where you will wait to make bail or your first appearance.
- Bail: You can post your own bail or go through a bail bondsman if you don’t have enough money. A bail bondsman will issue a fee you’ll need to pay to be released from jail. Typically, there’s a 10% down payment and collateral. You must attend your scheduled court dates to receive your collateral back.
- First appearance: If you don’t have enough money for bail or don’t want to go through a bail bondsman, it’s a requirement that you show up for your first appearance in front of a judge. The judge will review the information gathered by law enforcement to determine if there was probable cause for your arrest. They will release you from jail if they decide there wasn’t probable cause. If probable cause existed, they would set a bond, and you could get released if you promised to show up to your court date.
If you choose The Morris Firm to represent you, we will act on your behalf and enter a Notice of Appearance. That will tell the state that you want to enter a plea of not guilty and that we will represent you throughout your case. At that time, you won’t have to go through an arraignment.
If you haven’t hired an attorney, you’ll find out during the arraignment if the state will charge you and the type of DUI charge you’re facing. There are different DUI charges, such as first-time offenses, DUI with property damage, etc. This will depend on the circumstances of your situation.
After issuing a DUI charge, you’ll get the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, the court will sentence you to jail or provide another punishment for your crime. We usually advise clients to plead not guilty so we can investigate the case and find a way to get the charges dropped or reduced.
For quality representation against DUI charges, call the Pensacola, FL, DUI lawyer at The Morris Firm at (850) 503-2626 today.
A preliminary hearing happens before any formal charges get filed against you. There are two categories of preliminary hearings: bond hearings and adversarial hearings.
- Bond hearing: If you cannot pay your initial bond, we can request a bond hearing. During the hearing, we’ll use various factors to show why you should get a different bond amount than the one you can post. A bond hearing could also occur if the state believes an increase is necessary based on your criminal record and previous charges.
- Adversarial hearing: During an adversarial hearing, the witnesses must show up at court and state why they believe you should get charged with the alleged offense. This type of hearing is only allowed for a felony DUI case. We will try to get the charges against you dropped. If we can’t, we’ll have sworn testimony to use in preparation for your trial.
There are different motions to uncover evidence against you, allowing us to review and build a case against that evidence for your trial. In some situations, the evidence might not be strong enough, and we can use that as leverage to enter a plea negotiation or get the charges dropped altogether.
- Demand for Discovery: Discovery is the process of gathering copies of evidence. We’ll request the evidence that the state has against you, and they will request evidence from us. We’ll review the state’s evidence during the discovery process to help us build your case and argue against what they found. We can also interview witnesses who must testify at your trial during this time.
- Pre-Trial Conference: A pre-trial conference date is set after receiving all discoveries. During this conference, both sides will file their pre-trial motions and agree to deadlines to ensure the case proceeds on time.
- Pre-Trial Motions: Four pre-trial motions are most common during a DUI case.
- Motion to Compel: If the state refuses to provide specific evidence, we can file this motion, so the court requires the state to give it to us.
- Motion to Suppress: If we believe the officer obtained evidence illegally, we can file this motion so the state can’t use that evidence against you during the trial.
- Motion to Dismiss: This motion asks that the judge dismiss the case because there isn’t enough evidence to charge you with a DUI.
- Motion in Limine: We can file this motion to prevent the prosecution’s witnesses from stating particular facts about the case at your trial. An example would be if you have prior charges that witnesses can’t mention.
Many criminal cases get resolved with a plea agreement. We will negotiate with the state during a plea agreement to avoid going to trial. Under certain circumstances, we can get the charges against you dropped. In others, we might be able to get the penalties reduced, so you’ll face the minimum jail sentence or only have to complete community service. Your case will proceed to trial if we cannot reach a plea agreement.
Below are the different steps throughout a trial:
- Jury selection: Both sides will decide which individuals will become a part of the jury to hear your case. During this process, the judge and both attorneys will ask each prospective juror questions to determine how fair they will be during the trial.
- Opening statements: After selecting jurors, the trial will begin, and each side will make their opening statements. Each will argue their case and tell the jury if the evidence presented will prove guilt or innocence.
- State’s case: The state will present the evidence they found and call witnesses to the stand to testify against you.
- Cross-examination: We will question the state’s witnesses to disprove their statements and show why the jury shouldn’t convict you of the DUI charge.
- Defense’s case: We’ll present our case to the jury by submitting evidence and calling our witnesses to testify. The state will cross-examine each witness we call to argue why they don’t prove your innocence.
- Closing arguments: Both sides will summarize their entire cases to the jurors and explain why they should find you guilty or not guilty.
- Verdict: The jury will deliberate and decide if they believe you’re not guilty, and the charges against you should get dropped, or if you’re guilty, and you should get sentenced.
If the jury finds you guilty of DUI, the judge will decide the penalty you deserve. Florida structures punishments based on various factors, including prior convictions. You could face a fine, jail time, driver’s license suspension, and court fees if convicted. If this is your first DUI conviction, the minimum penalty is probation. For second and third-time offenders, you’ll likely get sentenced to time behind bars.
For a list of DUI penalties in Florida, see Florida DUI laws.
Contact The Morris Firm
We understand the challenges you’re facing. A DUI conviction can impact the rest of your life. You could lose your family and job and have a hard time getting back on your feet if you end up serving a jail sentence. When you hire us, we’ll develop an effective plan to drop your charges so you can put this terrible time behind you.
We serve clients in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and throughout the state of Florida. We have a solid track record of defending our clients in court and disproving the prosecution’s case. You can depend on us to be there for you 24/7, no matter what. If you were arrested or charged with DUI and need help defending yourself, call us at (850) 503-2626 today, and we’ll schedule your consultation.