Tampa DUI Attorney – Tampa DUI Lawyer
The DUI Process in Hillsborough County
Watch this FREE video explaining the DUI Process in Tampa, Florida as explained by experienced DUI attorney Stephen Higgins.
Procedurally, DUI charge in Tampa, Florida is very complex, primarily because there are two (2) elements, or charges, pending against you – (1) an adminstrative suspension of your driver’s license and (2) a criminal case.
Also, timing requirements that must be met, paperwork that must be filed with the Hillsborough County Clerk and mandatory court appearances that must be attended at one of two courthouses in Tampa, Florida. In your busy lifestyle, these requirements can become overbearing, time consuming and frustrating. We recognize that a DUI charge is overwhelming for you – between researching the potential consequences of the charge and finding the best legal representation. This is where we excel. Once retained as your lawyer for your Tampa DUI, we take care of everything for you – we file all the paperwork with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), acquire a temporary driving permit for you and file all the paperwork with the Tampa, Florida state attorney’s office.
Challenging the SUSPENSION of Your Driver’s License
Once arrested, your privilege to drive in Tampa, Florida is suspended and in almost every case, the arresting officer took your license. After you are released from jail, you are provided a TAMPA DUI citation, which, unless otherwise ineligible, shall serve as your driver’s license for ten (10) days (if you refer to your DUI citation, you will notice the ticket specifically states on the front side, “Unless otherwise ineligible, this citation shall serve as your driver’s license until midnight of the 10th day following your arrest.”) In other words, for 10 days after your arrest – you can still drive! Be sure to carry the DUI citation with you as if it were your license.
Within the 10 days following your arrest, it is imperative that we file paperwork with the DHSMV to challenge the suspension of your license. Once the paperwork work is filed, we are able to preserve our right to challenge your license and, more importantly, acquire a temporary driving permit for you. The temporary driving permit will allow you to drive for Business Purposes Only, i.e. to “maintain your livelihood,’ to and from work, chruch, school and doctor’s appointments. It is VERY important to contact our office immediately to make certain the proper paperwork is filed so you don’t automatically lose your license for up to 18 months.
Challenging the CRIMINAL Case
Once released from jail, you are told you need to make court date with the Hillsborough County Clerk within 10 days, yet another requirement we will take care of for you. To meet this requirement, we will file a Notice of Appearance with the Clerk and the State Attorney’s Office notifying them that we represent you on the DUI charge.
For a misdemeanor charge of DUI, your case is assigned to a Division acccording to the first letter of your last name. Each Division has a different Judge and a different set of State Attorneys. In some cases, depending on the location of your DUI arrest, you case may be assigned to the Plant City Courthouse. Cases in Plant City are currently heard before the Honorable Artemus McNeil and a separate division of the State Attorney’s Office.
The first court date scheduled in your case is call the Arraignment. This is an initial hearing during which the Judge informs you of your rights, your charges and the penalties you may face. Typically, your appearance at the Arraignment is required. However, once retained, we will satisfy your appearance at the Arraignment by filing a Plea of Not Guilty to the DUI charge, a Waiver of Appearance and Demand for Discovery. In other words, your appearance will not be required and the court will automatically provide us with a second court date, referred to as a Disposition.
The second court date is called your Disposition. As your lawyers, we appear on your behalf making your appearance unnecessary. On Disposition date, we speak to the State Attorney who is in charge of your case. Typically, we are much more familiar with your case than they are, and it is our job to bring your file to the forefront of their considerations. We want to explain your case to the State, advise them of ‘holes’ they may have in proving that you were DUI and express an interest in resolving the case without a trial. On the first Disposition date, after we have spoken with the State Attorney, we appear in front of the Judge and request that the case be continued to a SECOND disposition date. The Judge will generally grant our request, knowing that the State Attorney needs some time to review your case.
Over the course of the next few months, there will be a sequence of Disposition dates, each time we appear on your behalf, speak to the State Attorney, ask them to review evidence and consider making a good offer to resolve the case. While it may be frustrating for you that the case is pending for three to four months, it is often to your advantage that your case is continued several times because it allows us to prepare for a potential motion and consistently negotiate with the State Attorney regarding your case.
Arrested for a Tampa, Florida DUI? Contact our law offices immediately.
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