Common Mistakes That Should Be Avoided

Interviewer:  What are some of the common mistakes that I should be aware of and avoid that will make my situation worse?

Ladan Law: One of the common mistakes that we see is in Florida your DUI goes in two separate directions at the same time. Number one is your driver’s license is suspended the minute the law enforcement officer takes the driver’s license out of your hand. When you’re arrested, your license is suspended. How long it is suspended depends on what you do next. By the time that we talk to a client, that decision’s already been made. For people who might be doing research on this, if you’ve blown into the Intoxilyzer machine and you blow above a .08, the driver’s license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles for six months. If you refuse to blow into the machine, that suspension could be a twelve month suspension. Now there is a way to challenge that suspension, but it has got a very narrow window and that window is ten days.

So a lot of the problems that I have are trying to undo somebody who has waited to talk to an criminal defense attorney past that ten-day window. Then I have to go to the DMV and petition that they even consider a challenge to that driver’s license suspension, which already exists. The number one mistake I see is waiting until two weeks or two and a half weeks or three weeks after you’ve gotten a DUI and the things start coming in the mail from the court and to say, “Oh, I had better talk to an attorney.” By that point you have missed a significant opportunity that may win your driver’s license back from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Interviewer:  To go back to the previous question, actually, in terms of writing down what happened do you think most people just tend to say, “I’ll just get the police report and that’ll accurately remind me of what happened.” Do you see that or do they figure, I don’t want to deal with it so I’ll just think about it later and that’s part of the reason not to write it down.

Ladan LawI’m a former prosecutor out of Orange County. In fact, I was a DUI prosecutor for a time. When I first got on that job, I thought, the law enforcement officers have written this in their report, they swore to it, it must be accurate. As I did that job for a while, it became evident to me that law enforcement officers are human beings. They make mistakes. They interpret things wrong and, nine times out of ten, in a DUI case, they have evaluated some innocuous thing that someone has done as a sign of impairment. I take issue with law enforcement officers’ reports all the time. Not only are there simple Scribner error mistakes in the date/time, which can win you a driver’s license back, there’s also a misinterpretation of information by the law enforcement officers because they’re looking at it from one perspective.

It is a good idea to have the other perspective and it needs to be just as complete as the law enforcement officer’s perspective to be persuasive. Sometimes, I can show a prosecutor, “Hey, listen this is the person’s recollection of the evening. It’s detailed. It’s complete. It flows. It makes sense,” and that casts some doubt in the prosecutor’s mind that that person was impaired if they can be so specific about their actions. It’s always a good idea to write a very specific and detailed report that addresses in an opposing way some of the notations from the law enforcement officer.

Interviewer:  Besides waiting too long and jeopardizing your situation with the DMV, are there any other common mistakes that you see that make people’s situations worse?

Ladan Law: Makes situations worse? Certainly driving. A lot of people are not familiar with the fact that if they drive without a temporary permit, once they’ve been caught with a DUI, that’s a separate offense. That’s a separate criminal offense. It is likely that they are going to be taken to jail and held there because they would have violated the bond conditions from the DUI. Over and over, we see people who don’t take that driver’s license suspension seriously, go out and drive without first securing a temporary permit, which we can do for them, and now they have compounded a problem that was manageable into a jail visit. That’s difficult for a lot of people to understand.

People should not underestimate the consequences of getting that DUI citation. Some people don’t even know a DUI citation is a criminal offense. They’re given a ticket. They go to jail. They’re released. They think this is something they can go down to the clerk’s office and handle. That’s not the case. At a very minimum, you need to take advantage of attorneys like us who will sit down with you free of charge, and explain this process A to Z.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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