NAPLES DUI LAW – Collier County DUI for Out-of-State Visitors

NAPLES DUI LAW- Collier County DUI for Out-of-State Visitors

Perhaps due to the seemingly never-ending strips of beaches and countless amusement parks, the State of Florida is one of the leading states when it comes to tourism.  It is also a seasonal home for a large number of “snowbirds.”  Unfortunately, every year many of these out-of-state visitors are snagged with DUI charges.  It is only then, that many find out just how severe the consequences of a Florida DUI can be.

Assuming there was no crash involving damage to persons or property, the criminal penalties for a first offense DUI charge, typically includes the following:

  • Mandatory adjudication of guilt.
  • Jail up to six (6) months (may be up to nine (9) months if BAL is .15 or greater)
  • Probation for up to twelve (12) months
  • Fine from $500 to $1000 (or from $1000 to $2000 if the blood alcohol level is .15 or greater or there was a minor in the vehicle)
  • License revocation for six (6) months to twelve (12) months
  • Fifty (50) hours of community service
  • DUI school
  • Substance abuse evaluation, followed by any recommended treatment.
  • Ten (10) day vehicle impound
  • Victim impact panel
  • If the person’s BAL (blood alcohol level) was a .15 or greater or there was a minor in the vehicle, an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle for up to six (6) months.

Some out-of-state visitors may be used to more lenient DUI penalties in their corresponding states.  One example is the State of New York, which provides a non-criminal version of the charge known as DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired).  Some may offer Early Intervention or Pre-trial Diversion; but this is simply not available for DUI charges in Collier County, Florida.  It’s needless to say, from the penalties mentioned above, that Florida is one of the toughest states on DUI.  So what exactly does a DUI arrest mean for someone who is from out-of-state?

Many out-of-state visitors are overwhelmed at the onset of arrest.  For some, it may ruin their vacation when they are left scrambling to come up with funds to bond out of jail, pay the tow company for the rental car that was towed away and to potentially hire an attorney.  Many will begin booking flights for all of their future court dates:  1) arraignment; 2) pre-trial conferences; and 3)  jury trial or status dates.

For some, the experience will leave them wishing never to set foot in the state again.  As unfortunate as this wish may be, it can sometimes be accomplished.  A Collier County DUI attorney will file several initial pleadings (court documents) on their client’s behalf.   One pleading called the “Waiver of Arraignment” effectively enters a plea of Not Guilty, thereby, waiving the need for the client to fly down and attend the arraignment.

In Collier County, the case will then be scheduled for a pre-trial conference several weeks in the future.  The pre-trial conference is essentially a status date for the judge to ensure that the case is progressing.  Basically, to make sure that the prosecutor and the defense attorney are conducting discovery such as scheduling and taking depositions, exchanging evidence, filing necessary motions, etc. . . .  Again these are also court dates where the client’s presence may not be required; therefore, the attorney will have the client sign another document called a “Waiver of Appearance at Pre-trial Conference.  These are additional plane tickets and/or missed work that can be avoided.

The majority of cases are resolved without the need for a jury trial.  Some cases may be dismissed and some may be resolved by way of a negotiated plea agreement.  The attorney can prepare a “Plea In Absentia” which memorializes all of the details of the plea agreement.  By signing this document, the client avoids the additional burden of having to appear in person to enter the plea.  Either way, this means that the out-of-state DUI client may avoid coming back to Florida altogether.

So what happens after the plea?  Depending on the charge to which the out-of-state client ultimately pleas, there will likely be certain conditions of probation that must be completed.  However, it would be unreasonable to force a DUI defendant to come to Naples, Florida (Collier County) for random meetings with probation officers or to complete certain conditions of probation locally such as the DUI school or community service hours.  The good news is there are alternatives for out-of-county or out-of-state defendants.  For example, a defense attorney might request for “mail-in probation” or to transfer probation to the client’s home state.  Also, there would be no benefit for the City of Naples or Collier County for the DUI defendant to complete community service hours in their home state.  For this reason, Collier County DUI attorneys will regularly file motions to request that the court allow their clients to “buy out” their community service hours.  Typically, these can be bought out at a rate of ten dollars per hour.

Moreover, what happens in Naples doesn’t necessarily stay in Naples.  Thanks to advances in technology, states are routinely compiling and maintaining records of both criminal and non-criminal driving offenses.  The vast majority of states participate in the exchange of this information via the National Driver Register.  A license suspension in one state may prevent someone from obtaining a license in another state.  There have been recent changes to Florida DUI laws as they pertain to administrative DUI license suspensions.  This makes it imperative to seek the most favorable outcome available for the particular facts of the case rather than departing the state in the hopes that the issue will simply go away.

While a Collier County DUI arrest can be stressful for out-of-state visitors, there are ways to make the process less burdensome.  To contact a Naples DUI Attorney, please call (239) 775-1004.  The Law Office of Verderamo & Escobar is located within Collier County at 2668 Airport Pulling Road South, Naples, Florida 34112.

Juan Escobar

Naples Criminal Defense Attorney

Comments are closed