It’s not uncommon for individuals that’ve been arrested for driving under the influence to ask for a reduction to reckless driving, especially if they already understand the advantages.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to surmise if your case is a good candidate at the initial or secondary consultation with an attorney. For one, you haven’t been assigned a judge or state attorney who will oversee your case. We have not begun, let alone completed, the exhaustive discovery process.
We just don’t have the information needed to give you an answer.
However, an attorney will generally be able to tell you if you’re in good or bad position right out of the gate. You have a chance of getting your DUI charge reduced if:
Index for Quick Jump
- 0.1 1. You were respectful, compliant, and only talked in response to specific questions by the arresting officer.
- 0.2 2. You spoke coherently when you did speak.
- 0.3 3. You refused the breath test.
- 0.4 4. You were stopped for weaving, failure to maintain a single lane, or another traffic violation.
- 0.5 5. You have never been arrested for DUI before
- 1 A Reduction To A Reckless is a Good Thing
- 2 The Social Stigma of a DUI Conviction
1. You were respectful, compliant, and only talked in response to specific questions by the arresting officer.
DUI cases usually come with video evidence and these videos are reviewed by the prosecuting attorney. Especially in cases that are hard to call, the prosecutor is more likely to work with your DUI attorney if you are respectful and courteous to the officer during the recording.
It’s human nature to look for protagonists and antagonists, or good guys and bad guys. Don’t let the jury see you on video and define you as the ‘bad guy’.
2. You spoke coherently when you did speak.
The most difficult evidence to overcome in a Florida DUI case is typically slurred speech. It’s difficult to explain away slurred speech. As the common saying goes, loose lips sink ships and, in a DUI case, they can increase the chances of a conviction.
3. You refused the breath test.
This is NOT to say that you should refuse the breath test. Every case is different, and in certain cases, blowing into the breath machine can be helpful to your case (especially if your attorney gets the evidence from the breath test suppressed).
With that said, this article speaks in generalities, and all things being equal, failing to blow into the breath machine is one less piece of evidence for the state to seek a conviction.
4. You were stopped for weaving, failure to maintain a single lane, or another traffic violation.
Stops for non-criminal traffic citations are often questionable from a legal standpoint. A bad stop can mean a reduction or even dismissal of your criminal charge. Of course, accidents are bad. State attorneys are less likely to reduce your DUI charge when you’ve crashed into cars and/or walls.
5. You have never been arrested for DUI before
The state attorney will look at your criminal history, or lack thereof. This is big in cases that could go either way. If you’ve never committed a crime, the prosecutor could be slightly more lenient in your case.
Remember, every case is different, so it’s important to discuss your case with a DUI attorney.
First, the penalties for resolving your case to a reckless driving are much less severe than the mandatory penalties of a DUI conviction. A DUI is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. If you are convicted of drunk driving in Florida, you must:
- Pay a minimum of $1,000 in fines and court costs,
- Participate in DUI school,
- Have your car impounded for 10 days,
- Get your driver’s license suspended for 6-12 months and,
- If your breath test result was over 0.15 BAC, have the ignition interlock device installed on your car.
By must, we mean that the judge and state attorney is without a choice in giving you a better deal.
On the other hand, a reckless driving conviction is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by a max of 60 days in jail.
A reckless driving does not carry these mandatory conditions and everything is on the table and negotiable.
There is a bigger benefit to resolving your DUI matter with a reckless driving; you don’t have to tell current or future employers and loved ones that you have been convicted of a DUI. Whether it’s right or wrong, there is a social stigma attached to having a DUI conviction on your record. And many jobs, such as driver jobs, will not hire an employee with a DUI in his or her background. Accordingly, not being convicted of a DUI is preferable if at all possible.
Due to the complex nature of the laws pertaining to DUI cases, it’s always suggested that you consult with an attorney immediately following your arrest. This protects you and gets someone that will be completely dedicated to defending you before the state prosecutor gets their hands on your file.