If you’re a first-time DUI offender in the State of Florida, you’re likely feeling scared, confused, and anxious about what’s to come. As Americans, we spend a great deal of time in our vehicles getting to and from work, visiting friends and family, and running errands. With your driver’s license suddenly suspended, you’re left wondering how you’ll pursue any of the activities you previously depended on a vehicle for.
Fortunately, there is a way to fight the suspension of your license, limit your penalties, and potentially reduce your DUI charge to reckless driving. The first and most important step is to contact a DUI defense lawyer in Clearwater as soon as possible following your arrest. During this consultation, you can discuss the specific details of your arrest, address any concerns you may have, and receive the legal guidance you need to make the best decisions moving forward in your case.
Request a DMV Administrative Review Hearing
Time is of the essence in a DUI case as you only have 10 calendar days from the date of your arrest to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license and have your DUI defense attorney in Clearwater request a formal administrative hearing. The term “calendar days” is important here, as the clock continues to run even though the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is closed on Saturday and Sunday. Prior to this hearing, your attorney will sit down with you to discuss the DHSMV administrative process in more detail, review all of the documents associated with your case, determine the legal sufficiency of the forms and reports law enforcement relied upon to justify taking your license, and prepare a defense. If necessary, your attorney may also call witnesses to testify or present evidence on your behalf. He or she may issue subpoenas to ensure witness attendance at the hearing as well.
Obtain a Hardship License
As a first-time DUI offender, Florida Statute 322.2615(1)(b)3. and 322.271(7) allow for you to immediately apply for a hardship driving privilege. This allows you to suffer no interruption in your ability to lawfully drive. However, advanced preparation is the key to success in this process. When you partner with one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Clearwater, he or she can help you navigate the hardship license application process with ease, including:
- Advising you on your eligibility for a hardship license
- Informing you of the proper time to apply for a hardship license
- Providing you with written instructions on what to do to satisfy the requirements of Florida and Federal Law
- Providing you with the necessary application forms and information packets to expedite the process
- Counseling you about the type and nature of the questions the hearing officer may ask you regarding whether to grant your reinstatement of driving privileges
Reduce Your DUI to Reckless Driving
There are a number of ways to mitigate the potential repercussions of a DUI charge with the help of one of the top DUI defense attorneys in Clearwater, including taking a plea bargain, completing a rehabilitation program, or working to have your DUI charge reduced to reckless driving. By requesting to amend the charge from DUI to reckless driving, you’ll significantly lower the maximum penalty of jail time, the stigma associated with the charge, the minimum mandatory fine, and possibility for job termination and increase in insurance rates. Additionally, if you are convicted of reckless driving and then later arrested and convicted of a DUI, you would be deemed a first-time offender. If you have any questions about having your charges reduced to reckless driving, obtaining a hardship license, or requesting a formal administrative hearing, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
For a free consultation with one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.