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IF you are charged with
Should I Blow?
Car Accident? Three things most attorneys don't want you to know...
This is the question I am asked most often by my friends and acquaintances. In answering the age old question, 'To blow or not to blow", I will merely point out pros and cons and let you come to your own conclusion. Florida has an Implied Consent Law which states that by operating a vehicle, you are implying that you agree to submit to an alcohol breath test (amongst other things) if requested. If you refuse to blow, the State can and will revoke your drivers license for a period of twelve months, regardless of whether or not you are ultimately convicted of DUI. It is hard, but not impossible, to overturn this DMV administrative suspension. You can still get arrested for DUI even if you do not blow. If you blow and are later convicted of DUI, you will have your license revoked for 6 months.
So if you get pulled over and you know you have had too much to drink, shouldn't you just blow because you will likely get a DUI anyway by either failing or refusing to perform Field Sobriety Tests? Not necessarily, and here is why. A breathalyzer sample is additional evidence a prosecutor has to prove that you were driving under the influence. You really tie your attorney's hands here because it is hard, but once again not impossible, to show these test are unreliable. Think about it this way: Say you were an attorney and had a client you were trying to defend from a speeding ticket. Wouldn't it be easier to fight the claim that he was speeding if it was just the police officer's word, versus the police officer's word AND radar evidence showing exactly how fast he was going?
In that regard, if you were a lawyer for a DUI defendant you might be able to refute testimony from the police officer who stated on the police report that you had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. You might be able to refute the findings of the field sobriety test by challenging the credibility of the officer or the test themselves. However, if you have those two elements plus a B.A.C of .16 (for example), you are going to have a lot more difficult fight.
One last factor to consider in your determination of whether or not to blow. In Florida if you have a B.A.C. of .15 or higher, there are enhanced penalties, including the fine possibly being doubled! So, I know I said I would let you come to your own conclusion, but when in doubt "Say 'No', don't blow!"
1. They Are Not Cutting You A Break!
The law firm is most likely taking the maximum percentage under Florida Law. Florida Statute mandates a contingency fee must be capped at 33.3% before an answer is filed, and 40% after (up to 1 million). They are taking as much from you as they can. Call me at 727-742-3355 to see what percentage I take. You will be pleasantly surprised. My motto is that you, the client, deserve the vast majority of your claim.
2. Their Fee's are Not Included!
Not only are they getting 33.3% to 40% of what you get, they are also entitled to costs. I have seen personal injury lawyers bill $125.00 per hour for a "paralegal" time, when in reality I know the paralegal is only making $20.00 an hour. I have seen lawyers charge $1.00 per sheet for documents that are faxed. I am never going to nickle and dime you. I will only charge you a cost at the direct cost for me, AND MOST OF THE TIME, I AM GOING TO JUST EAT THOSE MINOR COSTS!
3. Busy Lawyers will Often Settle for Much Less Than You Deserve, Just So They are Done with the Case!
Settling a case can be easy money for a lawyer. Often, if they are busy, they will take less from the insurance company just to have one less file off their desk. I don't take the easy way out. I am willing to take your case to court. Sometime settling is in the best interest of a client, but I am going to do the best I can in negotiating to maximize your recovery, not just lazily take the first offer.
This is a very important decision, and what to do next can, and likely will, affect your future. Some people get too depressed after a DUI to think productively. You do not want to do that. Other people are unchanged by the arrest. You don't want to do that either. The first thing you want to do is contact an attorney and speak to them immediately. Most attorneys, including myself, will offer a free initial consultation. Also, you will want to do this soon as you only have ten days to challenge the DMV administrative suspension of your license. After speaking to a lawyer, abstain from drinking and consider starting to attend AA meetings. You might not feel you are an alcoholic, but regardless of how you feel, it shows the court you are taking the charge seriously and will typically help your case.
Enrolling in AA meetings could also facilitate an offer of a plea bargain from the State Attorney's office which will generally reduce the charge to something lesser, such as reckless driving, instead of DUI. We want to show the State that you are not a danger to their clients, the citizens of Florida. We need to ensure them that this is never going to happen again. There are many other components to getting the State to consider reduction of the charge to Reckless Driving, and that is why it is so important to hire an attorney for your DUI.
If you don't want a plea deal, you always have the right to take it to trial. Taking it to trial can be a roll of the dice, because you never know how jurors are going to respond. When taking your case to trial ,you want an attorney that is just as good in the court room as he is in negotiations outside the courtroom.
In summary, whether or not you choose John M. Hornbeck, P.A., make sure you hire an attorney!