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Stages of a DUI Investigation Explained



Stage 1: The Traffic Stop and Arrest

Facing a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge in Florida can be an overwhelming experience, and it all starts with the traffic stop and arrest. This is the first critical stage in a DUI investigation, setting the tone for everything that follows. Law enforcement officers will pull over a driver if they suspect impairment due to alcohol or drugs. This initial interaction is crucial, as it can significantly impact the outcome of the case.

During the traffic stop, officers will observe the driver’s behavior, looking for signs of intoxication such as erratic driving, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol. They may also ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests, which assess balance, coordination, and the ability to follow instructions. In some cases, a breathalyzer test may be administered to measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If the officer believes there is sufficient evidence of impairment, the driver will be placed under arrest for DUI.

DUI Sobriety Test

Having an experienced DUI attorney at this stage can make a significant difference. They can review the circumstances of the traffic stop to ensure it was conducted legally and that your rights were respected. If there were any violations, they can challenge the evidence obtained during the stop, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case.

One of the key aspects an attorney will examine is whether the officer had a valid reason to stop your vehicle. Florida law requires that police have a reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law or a traffic regulation. If your attorney identifies that the stop was made without proper cause, they can file a motion to suppress evidence. This motion can result in critical pieces of evidence, such as field sobriety tests or the results of a breathalyzer test, being deemed inadmissible in court, thereby weakening the prosecution’s case against you.

What is reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop? Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that requires law enforcement officers to have a factual basis and a rational inference that a person is involved in criminal activity before making a traffic stop.

It’s also important to note that the way field sobriety tests are conducted can be scrutinized. These tests are subjective and can be influenced by various factors such as nervousness, medical conditions, or even the testing environment. An experienced DUI attorney can challenge the validity of these tests by pointing out inconsistencies or improper administration, which can further weaken the prosecution’s case.

Moreover, the accuracy of breathalyzer tests can be called into question. Factors like improper calibration, maintenance issues, or operator error can lead to inaccurate results. An attorney can review the maintenance records of the breathalyzer device and the training records of the officer who administered the test to identify any potential issues.

In some cases, additional tests such as blood or urine tests may be conducted. These tests are generally more accurate than breathalyzers but can still be challenged on various grounds. For instance, the chain of custody for the samples must be meticulously documented. Any lapses in this documentation can be used to argue that the evidence is unreliable.

At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and are committed to providing expert legal representation at every stage of the process. Our team will meticulously review every detail of your case, from the initial traffic stop to the administration of sobriety tests, to ensure that your rights are protected. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, contact us today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation.

For more information on related topics, you can read about Defending Unlawful DUI Stops or explore Prolonged Detention Dismissals.

Stage 2: Booking and Bail

After the initial traffic stop and arrest, the next stage in a DUI investigation is booking and bail. This phase is crucial as it determines whether the arrested individual will remain in custody or be released while awaiting trial. Understanding this stage can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that comes with a DUI charge.

Once you are arrested for a DUI, you will be taken to the police station for booking. This process involves recording your personal information, taking fingerprints, and photographing you for a mugshot. The booking process can be time-consuming and emotionally taxing, but it is a standard procedure that everyone must go through.

What happens during booking? Booking is the process where law enforcement records personal information, takes fingerprints, and photographs the arrested individual.

The severity of the DUI charge and your prior criminal record play a significant role in determining your eligibility for bail. Bail is a financial arrangement that allows you to be released from custody while ensuring that you will appear in court for your trial. The amount of bail can vary widely based on several factors, including the nature of the offense and your criminal history.

Client Celebrating Release

Securing Release

Securing your release on bail can be a complex process, but having an experienced DUI attorney can make a significant difference. Your attorney can advocate for reasonable bail conditions and guide you through the process of posting bail. They can also review the circumstances of your arrest and booking to identify any potential issues that may have violated your rights. For example, if you were denied access to an attorney or subjected to unfair treatment during booking, your attorney can bring these issues to the court’s attention.

One of the key roles of an attorney at this stage is to argue for a lower bail amount. They can present evidence of your ties to the community, such as employment, family, and residence, to demonstrate that you are not a flight risk. This can be particularly important if the bail amount set by the court is excessively high.

Your attorney can also explore alternative options to traditional bail, such as a release on your own recognizance (ROR). An ROR allows you to be released without posting bail, based on the trust that you will appear for all court proceedings. This option is typically available to individuals with a minimal criminal record and strong community ties.

In some cases, your attorney may suggest using a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman can post bail on your behalf for a fee, usually a percentage of the total bail amount. While this option can be more expensive in the long run, it can provide immediate relief if you are unable to post bail yourself.

It’s important to note that the booking and bail process can also have a lasting impact on your case. Any statements you make during booking can potentially be used against you in court. Therefore, it is crucial to remain calm and refrain from discussing the details of your case until you have consulted with your attorney.

At Leppard Law, we understand the stress and uncertainty that comes with a DUI charge. Our experienced attorneys are here to guide you through every stage of the process, from booking and bail to trial and beyond. We are committed to protecting your rights and securing the best possible outcome for your case. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, contact us today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation.

For more information on related topics, you can read about DUI Investigations or explore Prolonged Detention Dismissals.

Stage 3: Administrative License Suspension

When you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has the authority to suspend your driver’s license immediately. This administrative license suspension can occur even before your criminal case is resolved, making it a critical issue to address promptly. Losing your driving privileges can significantly disrupt your daily life, affecting your ability to work, run errands, and fulfill family responsibilities.

The administrative license suspension process begins the moment you are arrested for a DUI. Typically, the arresting officer will issue a notice of suspension and take your driver’s license. You will then be given a temporary permit to drive for a limited period, usually 10 days, during which you must request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension.

What is an administrative license suspension? An administrative license suspension is a process where the DHSMV suspends your driver’s license immediately following a DUI arrest, even before your criminal case is resolved.

Challenging the Suspension

Challenging an administrative license suspension involves requesting a formal review hearing with the DHSMV. This hearing is your opportunity to present evidence and arguments to potentially prevent or reduce the suspension of your license. It is crucial to act quickly, as you have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request this hearing.

At the administrative hearing, your attorney can play a vital role in representing your interests. They will scrutinize the evidence presented by the arresting officer, such as the results of breathalyzer tests and field sobriety tests, to identify any weaknesses or inconsistencies. They can also question the legality of the traffic stop and the procedures followed during your arrest. If any procedural errors or violations of your rights are found, your attorney can argue for the suspension to be overturned.

There are several grounds on which your attorney can challenge the suspension, including:

  • Reasonable suspicion: Questioning whether the officer had a valid reason to stop your vehicle in the first place. Understanding reasonable suspicion is key to this argument.
  • Probable cause: Contesting whether there was sufficient evidence to justify your arrest for DUI. Learn more about probable cause in DUI arrests.
  • Accuracy of tests: Challenging the reliability of the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests administered during your arrest. Issues such as improper calibration or operator error can affect the validity of these tests. Explore the evidence needed for a DUI arrest.

If the administrative suspension is upheld, your attorney can still help you explore options to mitigate the impact on your life. One such option is obtaining a hardship license, which allows you to drive for essential purposes, such as work, school, and medical appointments. The process for securing a hardship license involves demonstrating your need and compliance with certain conditions, such as enrolling in a DUI education program.

For many individuals, the administrative license suspension is one of the most immediate and disruptive consequences of a DUI arrest. The ability to drive is essential for maintaining employment and fulfilling daily responsibilities. Having an experienced DUI attorney by your side can make a significant difference in navigating this challenging stage and protecting your driving privileges.

At Leppard Law, we understand the critical importance of retaining your driving privileges and are dedicated to providing skilled representation at administrative hearings. Our attorneys have extensive experience in challenging license suspensions and securing favorable outcomes for our clients. If you are facing a DUI charge and the potential loss of your driver’s license, contact us today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation.

For more information on related topics, you can read about strategies to beat your DUI case or explore challenging the legality of a DUI stop.


Stage 4: Arraignment and Charges

The arraignment is a pivotal stage in the DUI investigation process where you are formally charged with DUI and required to enter a plea. This stage is crucial as it sets the direction for the rest of your case. You have three plea options: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Each plea comes with its own set of consequences, and the decision you make here can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

What is an arraignment? An arraignment is a court proceeding where the defendant is formally charged with a crime and enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Entering a Plea

Deciding on the appropriate plea can be a daunting task. An experienced DUI attorney can guide you through this critical decision-making process. They will explain the potential consequences of each plea option and help you make an informed choice based on your specific circumstances. Pleading not guilty allows your attorney to start building a robust defense strategy, which is crucial for a favorable outcome.

Here’s a breakdown of the plea options:

  • Guilty: Admitting to the charges, which usually leads to sentencing without a trial.
  • Not Guilty: Denying the charges, which initiates the defense process and leads to a trial.
  • No Contest: Not admitting guilt but accepting the court’s punishment, often used to avoid civil liability.

At Leppard Law, our attorneys are skilled in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They can provide a realistic assessment of your chances at trial and the potential benefits of negotiating a plea deal. This informed guidance is invaluable in navigating the complexities of the legal system.

Criminal Lawyer Documents

Building a Defense Strategy

Once you plead not guilty, your attorney will begin the crucial task of building your defense. This involves gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and scrutinizing the prosecution’s case for any weaknesses or inconsistencies. Key areas of focus include:

  • Challenging the traffic stop: If the initial stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence gathered may be inadmissible in court.
  • Questioning the accuracy of tests: Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests can be flawed. Issues like improper calibration and operator error can lead to inaccurate results.
  • Scrutinizing officer’s conduct: Any deviations from standard procedures or inconsistencies in the officer’s report can be used to challenge the prosecution’s case.

Pretrial Motions and Negotiations

Before the trial, your attorney will file various pretrial motions to challenge the evidence against you. These motions can include:

  • Motion to Suppress: Arguing that certain evidence should be excluded due to procedural errors or violations of your rights.
  • Motion in Limine: Requesting that certain evidence be deemed inadmissible before the trial begins.
  • Discovery Motions: Compelling the prosecution to provide evidence that could be favorable to your defense.

Your attorney will also engage in negotiations with the prosecution to explore potential plea bargains or alternative sentencing options. These negotiations are crucial as they can result in reduced charges or penalties, significantly minimizing the impact of a DUI conviction on your life. For more insights, you can read about how to beat your DUI case.

Having a dedicated DUI attorney by your side during the arraignment and throughout the legal process is essential. They provide expert legal advice, ensure your rights are protected, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and are committed to providing top-notch legal representation.

If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, don’t navigate this challenging journey alone. Contact Leppard Law today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you every step of the way.

For more information on related topics, you can explore handling a DUI stop or challenging the legality of a DUI stop.


Infographic depicting the words Stages of a DUI Investigation Explained


What are the stages of a DUI investigation in Florida?

In Florida, the stages of a DUI investigation include the traffic stop and arrest, booking and bail, administrative license suspension, arraignment and charges, pretrial motions and negotiations, trial, sentencing, and appeals if necessary.

Can I challenge the legality of a DUI stop in Florida?

Yes, you can challenge the legality of a DUI stop in Florida by questioning whether the officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the stop. An experienced DUI attorney can help you file a motion to suppress evidence if the stop was illegal.

What happens during the arraignment in a DUI case?

During the arraignment in a DUI case, you are formally charged with DUI and required to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This stage is crucial as it sets the direction for the rest of your case.

How can an attorney help during the administrative license suspension stage?

An attorney can help during the administrative license suspension stage by representing you at the administrative hearing, presenting evidence and arguments to potentially prevent or reduce the suspension of your license. They can challenge the suspension and seek a favorable outcome that allows you to retain your driving privileges.


Explore additional areas of practice that our firm specializes in to provide comprehensive legal support.

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DUI Without Driving Evidence for DUI Arrest
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BOLO Tips in DUI Cases Handling DUI Stops
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Top-Rated DUI Lawyers Serving Florida

Choosing the appropriate legal representation is crucial when pursuing a claim. A seasoned, committed DUI attorney ensures you’re equipped to make informed choices at each phase of the process.

  • John Vallillo: As a stalwart in the Florida legal scene, John Vallillo has earned his stripes through a consistent record of case dismissals and proactive defense. His background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney enriches his strategic defense planning with invaluable insights.
  • Joe Easton: Renowned for crafting winning defenses, Joe Easton’s approach to legal advocacy in Florida combines thorough preparation with aggressive representation. His notable recognitions and ratings stand testament to his exceptional service and client-focused approach.
  • Joel Leppard: Joel Leppard infuses every DUI case with a level of personal commitment and innovative thinking that sets him apart. His leadership has not only grown Leppard Law into a top-rated criminal defense law firm but also ensured that clients receive empathetic, effective legal care.

Discover What Our Clients Are Saying

At the forefront of our DUI practice is a deep-seated commitment to client satisfaction. Each case is handled with utmost care, as echoed in the appreciative feedback from those we represent. Stellar reviews are what make us consistently one of Central Florida’s top-rated DUI law firms. You can read more 5-star reviews here.

Contact Our Top-Rated DUI Attorneys Today

At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities and stress that accompany a DUI charge. Our commitment to you goes beyond just legal representation; we treat our clients like family. When you choose us, you gain a partner who will stand by you, fight for your rights, and strive for the best possible outcome for your case.

But don’t just take our word for it. Our firm has been consistently recognized for excellence:

Award Granting Organization Year
SuperLawyers “Rising Star” SuperLawyers 2019 – 2020
Awesome Attorneys Orlando Orlando Family Magazine 2019-2023
Best DUI Lawyers in Orlando Expertise 2024
Top 10 DUI Attorneys near Orlando, FL Thumbtack 2024
Martindale Hubbell “Client Champion Platinum” Martindale Hubbell 2018-2024

Facing a DUI charge can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you or a loved one are dealing with a DUI charge, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Experience the difference of having a dedicated and experienced legal team on your side.

Leppard Law: DUI Attorneys

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We are honored to be recognized among the best DUI lawyers in Florida, and we are ready to put our expertise to work for you. Don’t wait—one call to our top-rated criminal defense attorneys can make all the difference. Let us provide the support and legal expertise you deserve.

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Legally Reviewed by Joe Easton

Expert Florida DUI Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article reflects the firm’s 60 years of combined criminal defense expertise. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your DUI case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

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