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29 Jan
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  • January 29th, 2024

Pre-trial Options for DUI Charges in Florida

Facing a DUI charge can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. However, it is important to remember that you have legal options available to you, especially during the pre-trial phase. Understanding these options and the procedures involved can help alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety you may be feeling, particularly if it is your first offense. Let’s explore the pre-trial options for DUI charges in Florida.

Plea Bargaining: Exploring Negotiated Resolutions

One pre-trial option for DUI charges in Florida is plea bargaining. Plea bargaining involves negotiating with the prosecution to reach a mutually acceptable resolution without going to trial. In some cases, the prosecution may be willing to reduce the charges or potential penalties in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense. This option can be particularly helpful for first-time offenders who may be eligible for diversion programs or alternative sentencing.

Pre-trial Motions: Examining the Evidence

Another pre-trial option is to file pre-trial motions to challenge the evidence against you and seek potential dismissal or suppression of certain evidence. Your attorney can review the details of your case and determine if any legal grounds exist for filing motions such as:

  1. Motion to Suppress Evidence: This can be filed if your attorney believes that the police officers violated your constitutional rights during the arrest or search and seizure processes. If successful, certain evidence, such as the results of a breathalyzer test, may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  2. Motion to Dismiss: This motion can be filed if your attorney identifies any legal flaws or shortcomings in the prosecution’s case. If the court agrees with the motion, your charges may be dismissed entirely.
  3. Motion for Discovery: Your attorney can request the prosecution to disclose any evidence they intend to present against you. This includes police reports, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation. This motion helps ensure you have a complete understanding of the case against you.

First-Time Offender Programs: Diversionary Alternatives

Florida offers first-time offender programs, also known as diversionary programs, as an alternative to traditional sentencing for DUI charges. These programs are designed to provide an opportunity for rehabilitation and education rather than solely emphasizing punishment. The eligibility criteria and program requirements may vary, but they generally include completing alcohol or drug treatment, attending educational classes, and performing community service. Upon successful completion, the charges may be reduced or dismissed.

Pre-trial Conference: An Opportunity for Negotiation

A pre-trial conference is a mandatory court meeting that occurs before the trial. This is an opportunity for the defense and prosecution to discuss the case, exchange information, and explore potential resolutions. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and advocate for the best possible outcome. The judge may also encourage a resolution during the pre-trial conference, allowing you to avoid a lengthy trial process.

Entering a Plea: Considering Your Options

Before proceeding to trial, you will be asked to enter a plea, typically during the pre-trial phase. You have three plea options:

  1. Guilty Plea: By pleading guilty, you accept responsibility for the charges against you and waive your right to trial.
  2. Not Guilty Plea: By pleading not guilty, you dispute the charges and assert your right to a trial where the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  3. Nolo Contendere (No Contest) Plea: A plea of no contest means that you are not admitting guilt but do not contest the charges. It has the same legal effect as a guilty plea but may be strategically used to avoid admitting liability in civil cases that may arise from the DUI incident.

It is crucial to discuss these options with your attorney, who can evaluate your specific circumstances and provide professional advice on the best course of action.


Navigating the pre-trial phase of a DUI charge in Florida can be complex, but understanding the available options can empower you to make informed decisions. Plea bargaining, pre-trial motions, first-time offender programs, pre-trial conferences, and entering a plea all play a role in shaping the outcome of your case. Remember, consulting with an experienced attorney is essential to ensure your rights are protected, and your best interests are represented throughout the process.

Need an Attorney in Orlando, FL?

Guy H. Gilbert Law Office. has more than 27 years of experience handling criminal defense matters. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, then went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida. Guy has a thorough understanding of state and federal criminal law and is able to translate complex legal issues into easy-to-understand language. Working as a general criminal and DUI lawyer on behalf of clients in greater Orlando, he strives to provide the best legal representation in every case. Contact him today to learn more about what he can do for you!