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You've Been Arrested for DUI in Key West - What Happens Next?

If you are stopped for drunk driving on Duval Street, while traveling through Bahama Village, or in any other part of Key West, Florida, you need to know what to do next. The consequences of a DUI conviction in Florida are severe, including potential jail time, heavy fines, license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. That's why it's crucial to understand the process after a DUI arrest in Key West and take the necessary steps to protect your rights and future. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through what happens after a DUI arrest, the common mistakes to avoid, how a skilled Key West DUI defense lawyer can help, and how to find the right legal representation for your case.

The DUI Arrest and Booking Process

If you're pulled over in Key West on suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer will likely conduct a series of field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. If you fail these tests or refuse to take them, you'll be arrested and taken to the local police station or county jail for booking.

During the booking process, your personal information, mugshot, and fingerprints will be taken. You'll also be asked to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. In Florida, you're considered legally impaired if your BAC is 0.08% or higher.

It’s essential to record as much information as you can about the arrest and booking process. We encourage you to take notes on paper or your phone about the details of the stop, the field sobriety tests conducted, the officer’s behavior, and anything else you remember from the scene. These details may be essential parts of your DUI lawyer’s defense strategy.

Administrative License Suspension

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver’s license when you are arrested for drunk driving. The agency does not need to wait for you to enter a plea or be convicted before taking away your license.

We understand that this can cause you significant hardship. You may be unable to get to work, run necessary errands, or even drive home from your Key West vacation. 

You have the right to request an administrative hearing to challenge your license suspension, and a DUI defense lawyer can represent you at the hearing.

The Arraignment and Pre-Trial Process

At your arraignment in Monroe County Circuit Court, the judge will inform you of the charges against you and your constitutional rights. You'll have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You have the right to talk to a Key West DUI defense lawyer before entering a plea. 

After your arraignment, your case will proceed to the pre-trial phase, where your lawyer and the prosecution will exchange evidence and potentially negotiate a plea bargain. This is a crucial stage where a skilled Key West DUI defense lawyer can scrutinize the evidence against you, challenge the legality of the traffic stop and arrest procedures, and work to have charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

5 Mistakes to Avoid After a DUI Arrest in Key West

Facing drunk driving charges can be overwhelming. As you concentrate on taking the right steps to protect your rights, it is just as important to avoid common mistakes that could jeopardize your case.

  1. It is a mistake to talk to the police or provide statements without your Key West DUI defense lawyer present. Anything you say can be used against you, even if you believe you're being helpful.
  2. It is a mistake to plead guilty or accept a plea bargain without consulting a lawyer first. A DUI conviction carries severe consequences that can impact your life for years to come.
  3. It is a mistake to delay hiring a Key West DUI defense lawyer. The sooner you have legal representation, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.
  4. It is a mistake to miss any court dates or fail to comply with the conditions of your release. This could result in additional charges or a revocation of your bail.
  5. It is a mistake to post on social media. Do not discuss what you were doing on the night of your arrest, your arrest, or anything that happened after your arrest on any social media platform. Prosecutors may find anything that you post and use it against you.

How a Key West DUI Defense Lawyer May Help Avoid Mistakes and Protect Your Rights

Facing a DUI charge in Key West without legal representation is a risky proposition. A skilled Key West DUI defense lawyer can provide invaluable assistance throughout the legal process, including:

  • Protecting your rights and ensuring proper procedures were followed during your arrest and testing
  • Challenging the validity and accuracy of field sobriety tests, breathalyzer results, and other evidence against you
  • Investigating the circumstances surrounding your arrest for potential violations of your constitutional rights or other legal issues that could lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges
  • Negotiating with prosecutors to seek a favorable plea bargain, such as reduced charges or alternative sentencing options, if appropriate
  • Representing you at all court appearances, motions, and hearings, including a potential trial
  • Advising you on the best course of action based on the specific circumstances of your case and their extensive knowledge of Florida DUI laws and local court procedures

Finding the Right Key West DUI Defense Lawyer for You

Not all DUI defense lawyers are the same. When your freedom and future are on the line, you need an experienced, aggressive, and dedicated Key West DUI defense lawyer who will fight tirelessly for the best possible outcome in your case.

Here are some tips for finding the right Key West DUI defense lawyer:

  1. Look for an experienced DUI defense lawyer, not just a general criminal defense attorney. DUI laws are complex and constantly evolving, so you want someone with specific expertise in this area. Relatively few lawyers can ethically call themselves experts. However, Attorney Robert Malove is Florida Bar Board Certified as an “expert/specialist” in criminal trial law. Additionally, he is a founding member of the National College for DUI Defense. 
  2. Research their track record and client reviews. A reputable Key West DUI defense lawyer may have a history of successful case results and positive client testimonials. One of our clients was arrested for a 3rd DUI, which is a felony in Florida. He said, in part,

“For the next two years, through a myriad of legal twists and turns, you guided me every step of the way. That guidance and advice was always on the mark. Your knowledge of the law was exceptional and your legal efforts to protect my rights and help me with my case showed that you will go the extra mile to afford your client the best possible defense. As a result, when my case was decided and given my situation and the penalties I was facing which included up to 5 years of imprisonment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude when you finessed no jail time and an overall favorable outcome compared to what it could have been.

Not only have you been there as my legal counsel every step of the way, but your encouragement and confidence helped me turn my life around.”

We encourage you to read this client’s full review here.

  1. Schedule a consultation with a DUI defense lawyer. This will allow you to learn more about their communication style, knowledge, and overall approach to your case. The Law Offices of Robert David Malove offers free consultations.
  2. Ask about their fees and payment options upfront. DUI defense can be expensive, but a lawyer should offer transparent pricing. We are proud to offer flexible payment plans that allow our clients to access our services.
  3. Consider their location and availability. You'll want a Key West DUI defense lawyer familiar with the local courts and judges who is easily accessible throughout your case.