If you’ve been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in the State of Florida, you may be wondering what your legal options are. If you cannot afford to hire a private criminal defense lawyer to defend your case, you have the constitutional right to the legal aid of a government-provided public defender.
Public defenders can range in ability and experience. Whether or not they will be able to beat your DUI charges will depend on the strength of the case against you, how the evidence was collected, and their capacity for fighting the prosecution.
At The Law Place, we offer a free consultation with a qualified DUI attorney to discuss your options and the strengths of your case. Our team has a combined experience of 75 years, and all of our lawyers work together on every case. We can guarantee a thorough and efficient strategy that considers all possible avenues for your defense. A public defender works alone. We don’t.
Schedule your free consultation with The Law Place today. Let us do the heavy lifting for you. Call us now on (941) 444-4444
What Is a Public Defender?
A public defender is an attorney appointed by the county, state, or federal government to represent individuals charged under criminal law who are unable to pay for an attorney themselves. The judge will ask if the defendant would like to apply for an attorney and typically won’t ask if an attorney is already present.
A public defense attorney is paid for by the government except for a $50 application fee applied during the defendant’s arraignment hearing. The court-appointed attorney is usually able to hire investigators, interpreters, and expert witnesses at the government’s expense if it is determined necessary for the client’s defense.
In most cases, someone charged with a DUI in Florida who requests a public defender does not have the right to choose their attorney. Whomever the court appoints in your defense is who you’re stuck with, except in rare circumstances such as a conflict of interest.
What Is a DUI?
A DUI is a criminal charge associated with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Throughout the state of Florida, the term DUI may be used interchangeably with that of DWI (driving while intoxicated). The legal limit for drinking and driving is a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08.
Motorists are subject to field sobriety tests under Florida’s implied consent law, listed by Florida Statute 316.1932. All holders of a driver’s license give their consent to be tested for DUI when they receive their permits from the DMV. Refusal to perform these tests results in an automatic license suspension for up to one year, barring extenuating circumstances.
The consequences of a DUI are severe. First offenders can face a maximum of nine months in jail, and second offenders up to one year. Some other penalties include community service, substance abuse counseling, and fines in the thousands of dollars.
Drinking and driving is a serious offense, but our law firm understands that even the best of us make mistakes. Contact us today to find out your options.
Should I Use a Public Defender for a DUI?
If you have the option for a public defender and cannot afford the legal advice of a private attorney, you should use the court-appointed lawyer. However, if you can afford private counsel, carefully consider the risks you could be taking by using a public defender. Your DUI defense will be almost entirely in their hands.
Once the court appoints your attorney, you will usually not be able to request a change except in rare circumstances. You could be getting a veteran lawyer with years of experience in Florida DUI law, or you could receive an attorney fresh out of law school with no experience whatsoever.
Public defenders are at the whim of their bosses in the Public Defender’s Office. They could be given dozens of cases to plow through, and you might just appear as the case docket number to them. You may receive the attention you deserve, but with Florida being one of the top DUI arrest states in the country, it is very unlikely.
You take a gamble by agreeing to a public defender, but if you can’t afford to hire a defense attorney, it is definitely in your best interest to apply for state-appointed counsel. A DUI is no joke, even for misdemeanors or first-time offenses. It is important to get the legal counsel you deserve, or else the consequences could be severe.
Can You Beat a DUI Without a Lawyer?
There are some rare instances in which you can beat a DUI case without a lawyer, but it is extremely unlikely. You have the constitutional ability to waive your right to a private attorney or public defender. If you have sufficient knowledge of Florida DUI law, you may be able to adequately fight your case on your own behalf without the aid of legal counsel.
Cases in which defendants represent themselves are known as a pro se legal defense. Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), guarantees this right under the 6th Amendment.
However, even if you are an attorney, it is always best to enlist the aid of a qualified criminal defense attorney. They have the time and resources at their disposal to prepare your defense. If you have a public defender, they still have time to devote to your case. It’s the job of a private lawyer or court-appointed counsel to defend your case to the best of their ability, freeing you up to live your life in the meantime.
How Do You Beat a DUI Case?
You can contest your DUI charges in a number of ways. The best way is to attack the legitimacy of the evidence presented against you, and the traffic stop that led to the arrest in the first place.
Your lawyer will address the following in the course of your defense in an effort to get your case dismissed:
- Illegal stop, search, or seizure – Police may have stopped you illegally or without probable cause.
- Results of field sobriety tests – Improper conduct or collection of these tests may invalidate their results.
- Results of blood alcohol tests – If blood was taken without your consent, the resulting BAC measurements could be thrown out.
- Police observations – Police are required to record their observations during the course of any arrest. Their legitimacy can be contested if the evidence supports otherwise.
Good public defenders can contest your charges. Their ability to do so will rest in their aptitude as a defense attorney, and you may get stuck with someone with little to no experience. A private DUI defense attorney may be better able to adequately examine and argue the evidence against you.
Is It Worth Fighting a DUI?
Whether your case is worth fighting or not should be determined by the strength of the evidence against you. You and your lawyer should come to the decision to enter a not-guilty plea together by examining the full breadth of the prosecutor’s case.
If your lawyer has found that the evidence in your case is lacking or has been illegally obtained, you should definitely fight your DUI. It is in your best interest to get a DUI thrown out if possible. Otherwise, you will have a criminal charge on your public record for 75 years. This can be accessed by your current or potential employers and may be used against you in the unfortunate circumstance of another criminal charge.
It may turn out that the evidence in your case is rock solid. Your tests were done properly, and your traffic stop and arrest were made legally. In this case, your attorney may advise you to plead guilty to the DUI charges. Especially if this is your first DUI, the judge may be more lenient in your sentencing than if you chose to fight the case and lost.
You should go over all of your options with your attorney. Whether that be a public defender or a private lawyer, they should always have your best interests at heart when preparing for your DUI case. Although public defenders may not
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Public Defender?
The absolute minimum cost of a public defender provided by the government is the $50 application fee. Once your case has been determined, the associated costs of your defense will be levied against your individual income and purchasing power. For this reason, the cost of public counsel can vary greatly, but it will almost always be less than the cost of hiring a private attorney.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Private DUI Attorney?
The cost of a DUI attorney can vary. Typically, the attorney’s fees will be based on their relative experience and reputation.
First-Offense DUI Lawyer Cost (Approximate)
- Novice – $1,500 to $2,000. These DUI attorneys are the least experienced and have spent very little time in court. This lawyer may have a marginal reputation as they do not have the experience to garner one. They may spend a minimal amount of time on your DUI charge.
- Experienced – $2,500 to $3,500. These DUI attorneys have experience in court and a good reputation among their former clients. They will spend adequate time on your case and will provide a good defense.
- AAA – $4,000 to $7,500. This DUI lawyer has extensive experience in court and an exceptional reputation. They will spend the most time on your case and guarantee the best legal aid on the market.
Felony DUI Lawyer Cost (Approximate)
- Novice – $2,000 to $3,000.
- Experienced – $3,500 to $4,500.
- AAA – $5,000 to $10,000.
The best legal aid doesn’t come cheap, but it will guarantee an exceptional strategy for your defense. Consider your options wisely. Tell us the details of your DUI case at The Law Place today to find out our fee structure in regard to the specific needs of your case.
Consult The Law Place DUI Attorneys Today
Are you facing a DUI in the State of Florida? Are you afraid of the consequences and unsure of how to defend yourself? Public defenders might not have the time for you, but we do.
Consult with a qualified drunk driving attorney at The Law Place today. Our team has the combined experience of over 75 years and works together on every case, ensuring you the best legal defense on the market. We offer a free consultation with an attorney from our firm, so you know all the options available to you. The Law Place’s fee structure will be explained to you fully, so there are no surprise costs associated with our defense. All you have to do is tell us the circumstances of your arrest, and we will handle the rest.
Contact The Law Place and schedule a free consultation today. Our lines are open 24/7, and our representatives are always waiting for your call.
Call us now on (941) 444-4444.