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Preliminary Motions in Florida DUI Cases

Sept. 14, 2017

In Florida, driving under the influence is a situation that must be handled at the administrative and judicial levels. The penalties, punishment and proceedings related to driving while intoxicated are outlined in Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes, which happens to be very lengthy and intricate. When drunk driving charges are filed against a driver, the case will not be handled as a traffic citation. It will conform to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and the procedures outlined by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Not many DUI cases reach the trial stage. Many drivers are so eager to get on with their lives after a DUI arrest that they end up pleading guilty after their arraignments, particularly if they are not adequately represented by counsel. Even if prosecutors present strong evidence of intoxication, drivers should not rush to enter guilty pleas in DUI cases unless their situation has been evaluated by a law firm. The problem with entering a plea in haste is that doing so eliminates the opportunity of filing effective pre-trial motions.

Preliminary motions in DUI trial can be used as constructive defense strategies to improve the outcome of the case. These motions can raise certain legal arguments and can also put prosecutors on notice as to how evidence will be challenged in court. For example, the breath test devices used by law enforcement agencies to determine blood alcohol content levels can be questioned on the basis of their maintenance and calibration.

Aside from questioning the validity of BAC results, other pretrial motions that can be introduce may challenge the conduct of the police officers and their intentions. Motions to dismiss will argue that drunk driving charges should not have been filed in the first place. Other motions may seek to strike testimony or evidence from the trial.

Source: FindLaw, “DUI Pre-Trial Motions“, Sept 13, 2017