As a former prosecutor, and now a defense attorney, I deal with DUI cases on a daily basis. As an assistant state attorney, I evaluated all my case and knew that each case is different and that not every case was a good case for the State. Sometimes the state is faced with evidentiary issues such as a breath test machine that was malfunctioning, or a defendant with a low breath alcohol level. Other cases involved evidence that was tainted by police misconduct such as an officer making the initial traffic stop without probable cause, a bad DUI checkpoint, an officer who did not read the person Miranda warnings, or when an officer unlawfully stopped the person and detained him/her without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In case like these the state will look at the law and often reduce the charge rather than have the case dismissed by the court.
Another common way cases are reduced is by attacking the field sobriety exercises that a person is asked to perform on the side of the road. Many times a person does well on these tests, and passes them, but is still arrested for DUI. In these situations it is important that the attorney looks at the video and highlights how well his client performed to the prosecutor. When realizing that the person performed well on these tests, thereby showing that they were not impaired, rather than going to trial the state agrees to reduce the charge to a reckless driving. These tests are very difficult considering the circumstances you are asked to do them under, and almost impossible to pass for the average person. Therefore, when someone looks good when doing these tests on video, it is very tough for the state to prove that the person was DUI. Since the state has the burden of proof they often reduce the charge to avoid a not guilty verdict in front of a jury.
There are many advantages to having your DUI reduced down to a Reckless Driving. First a conviction for DUI will remain on your driving record for virtually the rest of your life, whereas a conviction for Reckless Driving may not. Furthermore, employers tend to look less favorably upon convictions for DUI than convictions for Reckless Driving. A DUI in Florida carries with it a mandatory adjudication, which means you cannot have your record sealed or expunged, whereas with a reckless driving if the court withholds adjudication you could possibly get your record expunged. Ultimately a Reckless driving looks much better than a DUI and does not carry the stigma or as harsh of a penalty that a DUI would carry. If your first DUI is reduced to Reckless Driving, and you are arrested for DUI a second time, you will still be considered a first time DUI offender.
An experienced DUI lawyer will understand the problems with the state's case and recognize your defenses immediate. When a client comes into my office, the first thing I do is interview him or her to find out exactly what happened on the night in question - how or why were you stopped by the police? Were you read your Miranda rights? What Field Sobriety Tests did the police ask you to perform, if any? These questions help me begin to build a defense and immediately work toward a reduction or dismissal of the charges against my client."
Ultimately, I am looking to poke holes in, or tear apart, the state's case by looking into the facts and circumstances that lead to the arrest. Obviously, my primary goal is to have the case dismissed, or thrown out altogether. However, my second goal is always to have the charges reduced to reckless driving. As a former state prosecutor, I know what circumstances tend to lead the state towards reducing the charges against you. The more holes I find in their case, the more bargaining power and leverage you have when negotiating.