Many clients ask about the possibility of having their pending DUI charge dropped to the lesser offense of “Reckless Driving.” This is accomplished in the Pinellas County court system by the prosecutor “amending” the charge from DUI to reflect the entirely new and less serious offense of Reckless Driving.
The Benefits of Getting a DUI Reduced to a Reckless Driving Charge
— Why a Reckless Driving Charge is Better than a DUI —
- A DUI conviction, by law, will remain on your Florida DHSMV driving record for 75 years.
- A Reckless Driving conviction does not carry the same stigma associated with a DUI conviction.
- Your insurance company is likely to treat a Reckless Driving conviction in a far less critical manner than they would upon seeing your conviction for DUI. This could translate into saving thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums. It might also prevent your insurance policy from being cancelled, or in the alternative, prevent you from being designated a high risk driver.
- Getting your DUI reduced to Reckless Driving normally results in a lower fine than the minimum mandatory fine imposed for a DUI conviction.
- If your occupation entails driving in the course of your employment, a DUI conviction might result in your termination. On the other hand, your employer may be far more sympathetic and take a more favorable view of your case if the DUI charge was reduced to Reckless Driving.
- A DUI conviction on your driving record could jeopardize future applications for employment. Although your DUI conviction may not represent a felony, nor a crime involving untruthfulness or dishonesty, you could still be viewed by the potential employer as a liability risk.
- If your current DUI case were to be reduced to a Reckless Driving and you were later re-arrested for another DUI offense, you would still be considered a first time DUI offender. (Assuming you had no other DUI convictions.)
How the System Works – The Judge Can’t Reduce Your DUI!
To better understand how the process, it is important to consider the roles of each party:
- It is the job of the police officer to establish “probable cause” and then make an arrest;
- It is not the job of the prosecutor to secure a conviction. More accurately, he is required to “seek justice.” His obligation includes a thorough review of the police officer’s investigation and a formal filing decision as to the most appropriate offense given the individual facts and circumstances of each case.
- It is the job of the DUI defense lawyer to achieve the best possible outcome for his client. This effort may include persuading the prosecutor to reduce the charge from a DUI to a Reckless Driving.
- It is the job of the Judge to preside over the criminal court proceedings associated with the ultimate charge filed by the prosecutor. In that capacity, he is required to be equally fair to both the prosecution and the defense.
Thus, contrary to common misconceptions, it is not the Judge who has the authority or discretion to drop your DUI charge to a Reckless Driving. Rather, only the prosecutor has the lawful ability to amend the charge. Therefore, it is critical to have an attorney who can effectively negotiate with the prosecutor when seeking a reduction of the DUI.
How to Get Your DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving in Pinellas County?
– Experience Matters –
An experienced St. Petersburg / Clearwater DUI defense attorney can thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your DUI arrest to reveal every possible weakness in the prosecutor’s case. Your attorney may also be able to file motions with the court directed at suppressing or limiting admissible evidence. This can often have the effect of further weakening the state’s case and provide you with an advantageous bargaining position to better secure the reduction of the charge.
– A Team Approach to Getting Your DUI Reduced –
Marc Pelletier and Tim Sullivan use a team approach when reviewing your videotape, police report and all documentation associated with breath testing. This includes confirming the certification of the Intoxilyzer operator and reviewing the calibration of the breath testing device. As former state prosecutors they personally reviewed hundreds of reduction requests. Both lawyers are certified intoxilyzer operators. They have also received certification in proper field sobriety testing. Valuable experience in these two areas can be critical in effectively addressing any weaknesses in the state’s evidence.
– Persuading the Prosecutor with a Comprehensive Argument –
If, after a thorough investigation, our office determines that your case is a suitable candidate for reduction, we will prepare detailed correspondence to the case assigned prosecutor in the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office.
- It is important to outline all the deficiencies and weaknesses in the state’s case;
- The facts associated with your driving and appearance on video are critical factors to address;
- Any applicable case law, legal arguments, procedural problems, and suppression issues affecting the admissibility of the evidence in your case must be leveraged;
- A complete analysis of the breath test machine, including the maintenance and calibration may strengthen our negotiating position;
- A review of the investigating law enforcement officer’s background, integrity, and past performance via a public records request can shake the prosecutor’s confidence in his own witness’ testimony;
- Providing sworn affidavits by your passenger or other witness attesting to your sobriety and ability to safely operate the motor vehicle; and
- Highlighting any personal background information that could help show that the prosecutor’s decision to amend your charge to reckless driving would be fair and equitable.
In the event a prosecutor’s supervisor should later scrutinize the file, our reduction letter also serves as a permanent record that supports the decision of the case assigned prosecutor to reduce the charge. As Former State Prosecutor’s, we are well aware that a detail oriented written argument for reduction can be a highly effective tool for achieving the best possible outcome.