Van Riper | Nies Attorneys                         561-962-3130
Palm Beach DUI Defense

DUI Process

We work for justice...

Van Riper Nies Law relies on open communication and an aggressive defense to bring justice to our clients.

Our lawyers are known for the personal attention we give to our clients and for leaving no stone unturned in our fight for our clients' rights.  Wouldn't it be comforting to know that you hired an attorney that genuinely cares about you and your family, and will work hard to make sure that you, or your loved one's legal and constitutional rights are being fought for?

The DUI process, especially for those who have never been arrested can be a terrifying and stressful experience. If you have been stopped for DUI and are facing possible criminal charges, it is important to us that you have a genuine understanding of the DUI process. Our attorneys pride ourselves on the individual attention we give to our clients and work hard to make the process as easy as possible under the circumstances by explaining to our clients the process following an arrest for a DUI.

We have summarized the DUI process below into a brief timeline. For more information, call us day or night for a free consultation where we will answer every question you have to help put your mind at ease.

·         The traffic stop is usually the first stage in a DUI case. Oftentimes, the stop is made following a traffic violation, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, or after a motor vehicle crash. The law enforcement officer, if he or she suspects that you have been driving drunk, will conduct a field sobriety test, which are a series of tests ranging from the well-known “finger to nose” test or walking a straight line. If you have had anything to drink you should politely refuse to perform these tests as they are usually designed for failure. If the law enforcement officer believes you have failed the tests, he or she will read your Miranda rights and place you under arrest.

·         Following the arrest, the driver is taken to the station where the breathalyzer test is administered. If the driver is injured, he or she may be taken to a hospital facility where a blood test may be administered. Usually, the DUI stop, field sobriety test and breathalyzer test are filmed.  Your attorney will usually order the video of the arrest and tests. At the station, after the tests are completed, the driver will be “booked” meaning that he or she will be questioned, photographed (mug shot), and fingerprinted before being taken to a cell. Here the driver will have the opportunity to call a friend or relative or a bail bond company to make bail arrangements.

·       The first step of the process is an arraignment. You will want to contact an attorney so that he can file a notice of appearance and waive your appearance at the arraignment.  Here, it is best that you request a trial so that your attorney can look at all the evidence and determine if any of the evidence can be thrown out.

·         The next step is called a pretrial conference and the discovery period. Here, evidence is collected, exchanged and disputed. Here, the defendant’s attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor face-to-face to have the charges reduced to reckless driving or even careless driving. At a pretrial conference, the defendant’s attorney will go over with the prosecutor the weaknesses of the State’s case and may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a reckless driving or even careless driving.  The DUI defense attorney will conduct discovery and file motions with the court to request the judge to exclude evidence by way of a motion to suppress. For example, a motion to suppress evidence obtained from an illegal stop or the admissibility of the breathalyzer test. The attorney may also file a motion to dismiss the entire case.  Other motions a proactive attorney may file are motion to modify or reduce bail, motion to preserve evidence, motion to reduce the charges and motion to examine the law enforcement agency’s evidence and file and most important, motions.

·         The next step is the trial by jury. Here, the State will be required to prove their case against you and convince all six members of the jury that the defendant is guilty of the DUI crime.  The six jurors will listen to all of the evidence against the defendant and arguments of the prosecutor and the defense attorney before deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime. The vote of the jurors must be unanimous. If the vote is not unanimous, it is called a “hung jury” and a new trial, with new jurors, will be set.If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, he or she walks out of the courtroom a free man or woman. If found guilty, the next step will be sentencing, which is usually done right there at the end of the jury trial. 

We are experienced trial attorneys known for leaving no stone unturned in the defense of their clients.  We work hard to ensure that our clients legal and constitutional rights are upheld to protect their freedom. We prepare every case as if it is going to trial. Prosecutors know this and respect us for it.

For a free consultation and for more information about our DUI Defense practice, please call 561-962-3130, complete the form below or email us at

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 DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances). s. 316.193, F.S.

Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven.

Fine Schedule s. 316.193(2)(a)-(b), F.S.

  • First Conviction: Not less than $500, or more than $1,000. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000.
  • Second Conviction: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $2,000, or more than $4,000.
  • Third Conviction More than 10 years from second: Not less than $2,000, or more than $5,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $4,000.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not less than $2,000.

Community Service - s. 316.193 (6)(a), F.S.

First Conviction: Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.

Probation - s. 316.193 (5)(6), F.S.

First conviction, total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year.

Imprisonment- s. 316.193 (2)(a) 2, 4(b), (6)(j), F.S.

At court's discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment.

  • First Conviction: Not more than 6 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months.
  • Second Conviction: Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
  • Third Conviction: If third conviction within 10 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. If third conviction more than 10 years, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not more than 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as habitual/violent offender.

Impoundment of Immobilization of Vehicle - s. 316.193 (6), F.S.

Unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation: First conviction = 10 days; second conviction within 5 years = 30 days; third conviction within 10 years = 90 days. Impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration. The court may dismiss the order of impoundment of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant if they are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.

Conditions for Release of Persons Arrested for DUI-s. 316.193 (9), F.S.

  • The person is no longer under the influence and;
  • The person's normal faculties are no longer impaired
  • The person's blood/breath alcohol level is lower than 0.05; or
  • Eight hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.

DUI Misdemeanor Conviction: (Accident Involving Property Damage or Personal Injury)-s. 316.193 (3), F.S.

Any person who causes property damage or personal injury to another while driving under the influence is guilty of a First Degree Misdemeanor (not more than $1,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment).

DUI Felony Conviction: (Repeat Offenders or Accidents Involving Serious Bodily Injury)-s. 316.193 (2),(3) F.S.

  • Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment).
  • Any person who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is guilty of a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment) or if habitual/violent felony offender as provided in s. 775.084, F.S.

Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide-s. 316.193 (3), F.S.

  • DUI/Manslaughter: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
  • DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of DUI Manslaughter who knew/should have known accident occurred; and failed to give information or render aid is guilty of a First Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).
  • Vehicular Homicide: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
  • Vehicular Homicide/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of vehicular homicide who left the scene of an accident is guilty of a First Degree Felony (nor more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).

Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI-s. 322.271, F.S. and s. 322.28,F.S.

A. First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year.

B. Second Conviction Within 5 Years: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year. Other 2nd offenders same as "A" above.

C. Third Conviction Within 10 Years of the second conviction: minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligable for a hardship reinstatement after two years.

D. Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred) and Murder with Motor Vehicle: Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement.

E. DUI Manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. If no prior DUI related convictions, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years.

F. Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: Minimum 3-year revocation. DUI Serious Bodily Injury having prior DUI conviction is same as "B-D" above.


Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) - Alcohol-Related Convictions/Disqualifications-s. 322.61, F.S.

  • Persons convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .04 or above: driving a motor vehicle while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or refusing to submit to a test to determine the alcohol concentration while driving a commercial motor vehicle, driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, or driving a commercial motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a period of 1 year. This is in addition to any provisions of s. 316.193 for DUI convictions.
  • Second or subsequent conviction of any of the above offenses arising out of separate incidents will result in a permanent disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

There are no provisions for persons disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle to obtain a hardship (business or employment) license to operate a commercial motor vehicle





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