What does a consultation for a DUI really sound like? Well in my office the DUI consult goes like this:
1. We get a call from a potential client or from their family member that
a person has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
They are scared. They are confused. They don’t know what to do with
their drivers license. They have no idea how this is going to impact their career.
2. I meet with a DUI client in my office. Usually a family member comes too. I explain to them all the inns and outs of a hardship license after a DUI arrest. I help them get a hardship license if they’re eligible or start the process of getting a DMV hearing, to challenge the administrative suspension of their license after a DUI arrest.
3. I explain to the DUI client what I call “the puzzle,” my job is a DUI defense attorney is to take pieces out of a puzzle that is the state attorney’ case against the DUI client.
4. I explain to the DUI client what is it that the State of Florida has to prove beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt in order to convict them of DUI in Florida. Basically how the state builds the puzzle. There are two elements that the State has to prove in every DUI case. The first is that the person accused of DUI was either driving or an actual physical control of a car. The second element is that the breath alcohol level of the person driving was either above .08 or his or her normal faculties were impaired. What does that even mean “impaired faculties?” This is the person’s ability to talk, walk, operate machinery, follow directions, etc. This is why in the report officers note every possible sign of impairment, such as getting out of a car and holding onto the door, the person couldn’t find the registration and drivers license, the movements appeared to be lethargic, and of course the standard bloodshot eyes, watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol. Those four are the favorite of DUI officers.
5. The main question during the DUI consult is how do I, as a DUI defense attorney, take pieces out of that puzzle. Florida has a lot of DUI cases and consequently there is a lot of caselaw on all sorts of issues. We start to dissect every piece of the DUI case from the stop, questioning whether or not there was even enough for the officer to pull the person over to whether or not it was enough to get them out of the car or even start a DUI investigation. I question whether the statements made by the client will be admissible. I further look at whether or not DUI client actually voluntarily consented to doing the Field Sobriety Exercises. I question whether or not there was probable cause for a DUI arrest. The list goes on and on. There is a lot to investigate and dissect.
The moral of the story is if you were arrested for a DUI don’t ever think that it is a open and shut case for the State. That is not true. Every single DUI case is different and there were so many issues that can be brought up, so every case must be carefully evaluated and studied.
7. At the consult, we discuss what my fee is going to be for the DUI case as it all depends on the case. I want to be able to help somebody avoid a DUI conviction and I always work with people on a payment plan.