I often get asked when I speak to the community to explain what happens to someone if they are arrest for DUI in South Florida. I have gotten the question enough times that I decided to put together a quick overview of what happens in most cases.
Initial Arrest – A police officer after pulling you over for some traffic infraction will claim to observe signs that you have been drinking. The most common signs a police officer will say is odor of alcohol, bloodshot glassy eyes, and slurred speech. Once, the police officer makes those observations they will ask if you would like to perform field sobriety exercises. The exercises are used to further confirm the officer’s suspicion that you might be driving under the influence. The kind of exercises performed are “walk and turn, finger to nose, one leg stand, and pen test (called HGN). These exercises are normally recorded on the officer’s dash cam. After performing the test and likely being told you did not “pass.” You will be asked to provide a breath or urine sample. Then you’re going to the jail to be booked.
Bond – Once you’re booked in the county jail you may be given the opportunity to post a bond without having to see the Judge. The amount of bond you pay depends on your criminal history and the level of DUI you’re currently being charged with. For instance a first DUI might have a lower bond then a second or third DUI. When you post bond, you agree to come to all court dates and not commit any crimes.
Arraignment – An arraignment is the first time you will appear in court, a few weeks after your arrest. This is your first chance to answer the charges against you. A judge will ask how you plea and you will tell the judge either guilty, no contest or not guilty. If you plea guilty or no contest the case is over and the judge will sentence you. If you plead not guilty you will be given a future court date (calendar call, docket call, sounding, etc.).
Calendar Call – If you plead not guilty, you will go to a calendar call. This pretrial hearing is normally where negotiations are done. If the State and you can work out a deal then the case can be resolved that day but if not the case with either be continued or set for trial.
Trial – If the case goes to trial, the State will have to prove you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They try to prove their case by presenting evidence in the form of witnesses and video. Your lawyer will typically cross examine their witnesses and discredit their video.
A typical DUI case takes between 6 to 12 months.
I’ve luckily have had a lot of success defending clients who are charged with DUI. If you or a loved one are currently being charged with a DUI give me a call. I’d like to help if I can.
Houson R. Lafrance