Treatment of first-time DUI charges will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular case and the individual’s record. With a first time drunk driving offense, the prosecutors may be more lenient and willing to strike a deal or come to a resolution that is reasonable. When someone has prior DUIs, however, prosecutors look at the new case differently and often treat it more severely.
With that said, the facts of the particular cases are important and an experienced DUI attorney should investigate the various aspects of the offense, such as the results of breath or blood tests. A Ft. Lauderdale first-offense DUI lawyer could provide a thorough and effective defense to these charges and work hard to obtain a positive outcome in their client’s case. En Español.
Court Treatment of First Time DUI Offenses
Prosecutors treat a case differently when a person has a blood alcohol level just barely over the legal limit versus two or more times the legal limit. They will want to know all aspects of a case, such as the following:
- Was there was an accident involved?
- Was anybody injured?
- How did the individual react and respond to law enforcement?
- Were they cooperative?
- Was there a video recording involved?
The case might be one that the prosecutor feels they would have difficulties proving in front of a jury. They look at the strengths and the weaknesses of their case, aggravating circumstances, and mitigating factors. A Ft. Lauderdale lawyer could help present their client’s best case to the court after receiving DUI charges for the first time. Somebody with a clean record without any prior drunk driving charges may be treated somewhat differently as compared to somebody who comes back into the system for the second or third time.
Court Hearings for First Drunk Driving Offenses
First time DUI charges are almost always heard in state court. There are situations where the charge is a federal DUI but those are rarer. The overwhelming majority of DUI cases are heard in state courts, either in the county or circuit court. County courts litigate misdemeanors. Circuit courts litigate felonies. The majority of first-time DUIs are misdemeanors, as long as it did not result in any bodily injury. A lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale could help someone with their first DUI offense regardless of whether it is heard in city or circuit court.
Judge and Jury Expectations for DUIs
Most judges feel the penalties for a first-time offense for DUI are substantial. The legislature set minimum mandatory penalties and sentencing for first-time drunk driving offenders. The penalties are lengthy, and a great deal is required of someone who is sentenced for a first DUI offense.
Judges can get frustrated because their hands are tied due to the minimum mandatory sentencing requirements. Even if a judge feels the penalties are too harsh and the person has no prior record, they cannot go below what the legislature set. However, plea bargaining can occur when a person resolves their case without a trial. Prosecutors tend to be a bit more lenient than if the case goes to trial and they are making an argument to the Judge regarding what they feel the sentence should be. When someone goes to trial and wins, there is no penalty as a result of the jury returning a verdict of not guilty. A person on a trial utilizes a lot of the court’s time and resources. Witnesses must come in and a jury must be impaneled.
The system is set up so that there is an encouragement to try to resolve cases without taking up too much time because the court does not have the time or resources to have every case go to trial. With first time DUI charges, short of any aggravating circumstances, there may be a certain level of sympathy or compassion for someone who is going into the system for the first time.
Aggravating Factors for Driving Under the Influence
State laws account for aggravating factors for first offense DUIs. The legal limit in the state of Florida is 0.08. A blood alcohol level above 0.15 triggers additional mandatory penalties. Even for a first offense, an ignition interlock device installation may into play with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or above. The legislature recognizes that not all first DUI offenses should be treated equally so there are statutory thresholds for higher breathalyzer readings.
Other aggravating factors or circumstances could include other charges received at the same time. Those include whether the person has a valid driver’s license, any open containers of alcohol in the car, if there were any minors in the car, or if any drugs or other illegal contraband were found in the vehicle. A lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale could determine if there are any aggravating factors in first-offense DUI case and present the solid defense based on these facts.
Contact a Ft. Lauderdale First-Offense DUI Attorney
If you are facing drinking while driving charges for the first time, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Fortunately, the skilled attorneys at Leifert & Leifert are here to help. Our Ft. Lauderdale first-offense DUI lawyer could prepare a case in your defense and work to minimize the penalties you may be facing. For more information about how we could help you, call today.