The DUI Court Process in Palm Beach County FL
The DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL has more steps than you might initially expect. While criminal cases on TV often move at a breakneck pace, these crime shows tend to distort reality– the process is usually slower and far more detail-oriented.
It’s much easier to make strategic, informed decisions when you have a clear understanding of what to expect during your DUI case. As former prosecutors, our FL DUI attorneys can tell you exactly what to expect during the court process and how to work towards the most favorable outcome.
Keep reading for a breakdown and answers to your most pressing questions about the DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL. When you’re ready to discuss the specifics of your case, contact Simko Law Group at (561) 951-1264 for your free case evaluation.
1. Arrest and Booking
Most DUI arrests in Florida start with a traffic stop or a sobriety checkpoint. In FL, law enforcement officials are legally allowed to set up at a chosen location and screen for impaired drivers.
No matter how you’re stopped, you’ll be arrested if the officer has probable cause to believe you’re driving while under the influence. At the police station, you’ll be asked to provide a sample—typically breath or urine—to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Next, details such as your personal info, fingerprints, and photos are recorded. This is known as the booking process.
2. First Appearance and Bail
Per Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.130, you’re entitled to an appearance before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. During this appearance, the judge will confirm whether there’s enough evidence against you to reasonably support the charges.
After notifying you of the charges and making this determination, the judge will set bail, which is the monetary amount required to secure your release until the trial. The bail amount depends on many factors like what you’re accused of, your past criminal record, and whether releasing you is a risk to the community.
3. Release or Detention
If you or someone you know can afford to have you released on bail, you may do so. The judge may also release you on a “personal recognizance bond,” meaning you’re trusted to show up in court without paying anything as collateral.
But release isn’t an option in every DUI case.
One potential step in the DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL is detention until trial. In this scenario, you’ll remain in custody until your trial. The judge is within their legal rights to do this if, for example, they believe you pose a danger to the public or have evidence to think your bail money would come from illegal activities.
Your arraignment is the formal hearing during which a judge notifies you of the official charges against you. You’ll have to plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty.
Opting for the latter will take you to the next step, while pleading guilty or no contest means you’ll proceed straight to sentencing.
5. Pretrial Conference
During the pretrial conference, your Florida DUI lawyer and the prosecutor can discuss various details of the case. These are typically related to things like the schedule and general protocols.
At this stage, your attorney can start negotiating with the prosecution to discuss potential plea agreements. They may also bring up potential issues such as violations of your rights, whether your arrest was conducted legally, and details of how your BAC was tested.
Depending on how the negotiations go, your attorney will discuss any offers and the pros and cons of each.
6. Discovery, Investigation, Filing Motions, and Negotiation
In Florida criminal cases, the prosecution is required to provide you and your attorney with relevant evidence. So, you’ll be aware of witnesses, reports, statements, testimony, forensic evidence, and anything else relevant to your case.
Then, both sides can do further investigation to create their strategies for the trial. This often includes filing motions to have certain pieces of evidence excluded, especially if they weren’t procured according to legal requirements.
More negotiation is also common as both sides get a clearer picture of the evidence.
Amidst all of this, you’ll likely have to attend pre-trial hearings as scheduled by the judge. The purpose of these is to check in and ensure the case is still progressing promptly.
7. Trial Prep or Plea Agreement
The next step is either preparing for trial or accepting a plea agreement.
If you’ll be accepting a plea deal, your lawyer will review the terms with you. You’ll both appear in court to formally enter your plea of guilty or no contest. Once the judge confirms that you understand your rights and the terms of the agreement, they’ll sentence you or set a date for the sentencing.
To prepare for trial, your attorney will organize and sort through all the evidence. They’ll also conduct any additional investigation such as securing witnesses, and file the final pre-trial motions.
During the trial, both the prosecution and your attorney will argue their sides, present evidence, and talk with witnesses. The DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL places the burden of proof on the prosecution. This means it’s their goal to prove each element of your DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you’re found innocent, you can put the charges behind you and move forward with your life. If you’re found guilty, you’ll proceed to sentencing.
If you’re found guilty, you’ll be sentenced. The judge must decide your sentence based on numerous factors listed in Florida Statute 316.193, such as:
- Your BAC at the time of the arrest
- Whether a minor was in the vehicle
- Any injuries or property damage that occurred
- Prior offenses, both DUI and any other criminal convictions
Your potential penalties include thousands of dollars in fines, license suspension, and up to five years in jail—or potentially even 15 years if you’re also being charged with manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
You may be able to appeal the outcome of your case. The DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL gives you 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal after a DUI conviction.
But it’s important to know you can’t file an appeal simply because you’re unhappy with the outcome. An appeal is only valid if you believe prejudicial or legal errors occurred throughout your case. If the court agrees, they may reverse your conviction or order a completely new trial.
There’s also the possibility of the court confirming your original conviction and sentence, though. Working with a qualified Palm Beach County DUI attorney is the best way to understand your options.
FAQS About the DUI Court Process in Palm Beach County FL
Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI in Florida?
Yes, per Florida Statute 322.2615, you lose your license immediately after a DUI in Florida. This is true in any of the following situations:
- You’re under 21 and your BAC registers at or above .02%
- You’re over 21 and your BAC registers at or above .08%
- You refuse to submit to a chemical test, whether blood, breath, or urine
However, you may be eligible for a 10-day temporary hardship license. This option is built into the DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL, and you can potentially get an additional 42 hours of driving privileges in the right conditions. Speaking with an attentive, qualified FL DUI attorney is the best way to understand which path is ideal for your situation.
How do you get a DUI dismissed in Florida?
While there’s no step-by-step guaranteed way to get a DUI dismissed in Florida, here are some examples of how this might be achieved:
- There’s insufficient or inadmissible evidence in your case, making it difficult to prove your guilt
- Your attorney can demonstrate errors in the chemical test you were given
- Your rights were violated at some point during the legal process
- You’re a first-time DUI offender with no previous criminal record
- You and your attorney negotiate for you to attend a state-approved diversion or intervention program
When one or more of the above conditions are met, it may be possible for a skilled FL DUI attorney to get your DUI dismissed.
How can I find a qualified DUI attorney in Palm Beach County to represent me?
You can find a qualified DUI attorney in Palm Beach County to represent you by considering the following factors:
- Are they experienced with defending DUI cases in Florida and the specific elements of your case?
- Did they seem attentive, focused, and proactive when you spoke to them about your case, or were they distracted and distant?
- Are they comfortable taking your case to trial if that’s the best option, and do they have successful experience in criminal trials?
Ask yourself these questions after your first conversation with each Palm Beach County DUI attorney you speak with. Ultimately, you need someone who is both knowledgeable and willing to fight fiercely on your behalf.
Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer to Help You Through the DUI Court Process In Palm Beach County
At Simko Law Group, this is exactly what we strive to offer. We pride ourselves on standing by your side every step of the way and giving you the attention you deserve. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Florida, or you have more questions about the DUI court process in Palm Beach County FL, call Palm Beach County DUI Attorney Andrew Simko from Simko Law Group today at (561) 951-1264.