Criminal Defense Lawyer in Okaloosa County
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Answering Your Questions About DUI Charges in Okaloosa County & Surrounding Areas

DUI is one of the most common criminal violations committed in Florida. However, no matter how mundane a DUI case is, it doesn’t mean that the case shouldn’t be defended as vigorously as other criminal charges. DUI charges still carried harsh punishments that can derail your name and your future.

At Dewrell & Herndon, we believe that part of our job as your defense attorneys is to help you understand your rights in all stages of your case. Please take a moment to read the information about DUI and the criminal procedure we have provided for you below. This helpful reference lets you in on what you can expect in case you or a family member has been arrested for DUI and other criminal charges.

If you wish to speak to one of our Okaloosa County criminal defense lawyers, please don’t hesitate to contact (850) 629-7163 and schedule a free initial consultation.

  • What Is DUI?
    DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances. In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI if it can be proved that you were operating a vehicle while impaired or your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or above the legal limit.
  • What Are the Penalties for DUI?

    If convicted for DUI, the penalties are the same no matter how the offense is proven as stated in Florida Statutes Section 316.193:

    • Ten-Day Rule- After an arrest for the charge of DUI, if you refused to take any chemical testing such as breath, urine or blood test or if the results of your breath, blood or urine test were .08% BAC or above, you only have 10 days to request a hearing in order to dispute your driver’s license suspension. Our office can fill out the appropriate paperwork to challenge this administrative suspension.
    • Potential Penalties- If you are convicted of DUI, the penalties may include incarceration, hefty fines, probation, suspension of driver’s license, community service, and court-mandated drug and alcohol programs. Your vehicle may also be impounded and may require an ignition interlock device installed.
  • What Are the Stages of a Criminal Procedure?

    First Appearance

    This is held within 24 hours of your arrest in the jail you were taken. If you have not been released from jail on bond, there is no way for you to refuse to attend this hearing. During the hearing, the judge will let you know about your charges, review the charging Affidavit to ensure that there is probable cause to support your detention, discuss the appointment or hiring of a lawyer, and may consider releasing you on bond or ROR.


    The next court hearing is called the Arraignment. This is done regardless if you have been released or remained in jail. When arrested for DUI or other criminal traffic charges, you may also receive a court hearing date on your ticket. This hearing is also considered an Arraignment. You are required to appear at this hearing to enter a plea and advise the Court of your intentions regarding an attorney. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the Court will assign a Public Defender at the Arraignment. If you have not already retained an attorney and that attorney has not yet filed his or her appearance and plea of Not Guilty on your behalf, you are required to attend this hearing.

    Notice of Appearance

    If you decide to secure a DUI attorney in Okaloosa County, his/her first task is to file a Notice of Appearance for you. This document lets the Judge, the Prosecutor, and the Clerk's office know that you have legal representation. It also informs the prosecutor that any and all future correspondence should go through your attorney.

    To secure your right to a trial, it is important that your attorney file a written plea of Not Guilty. This plea, however, does not mean that the case is automatically up for trial. It only expresses your desire for a trial but of course, there is always a possibility that a settlement can be reached prior to trial.

    Your attorney should also file a "Demand for Discovery,” which will require the Prosecutor to provide certain information including the lists of evidence and witnesses as well as the police reports. This information is referred to as "Discovery."

    The Discovery Process

    As soon as the Prosecutor receives the Demand for Discovery from your attorney, he or she is required to provide a response. After receiving the discovery, your attorney will then have to carefully review the information and schedule a deposition of the Prosecutor’s witnesses if permitted. It is also possible for your attorney to get a hold of any audio or video footage that the Prosecutor may have.

    A deposition is when the sworn testimony of the witnesses are taken. During the deposition, the witnesses, prosecutor, your attorney, and a court reporter should all be present. However, depositions are usually conducted in felony cases and are limited when it comes to misdemeanor cases.

    Because you have the right to remain silent, the Prosecutor is not allowed to take your deposition. However, it is possible for the Prosecutor to depose any of your witnesses.

    Without the approval of the Judge, you are not allowed to be present during the deposition. You can only be informed about when the deposition is going to take place. Unless notified, there is no need for you to attend.

    Pretrial Conference

    Your Pretrial Conference is usually held several weeks after your Arraignment. This is when a Judge determines if it is possible that your case can be settled. In many cases, the judge will require that you attend the Pretrial Conference, so unless you have been excused, your presence is important.

    In case you decide to settle and change your plea during the Pretrial Conference, the Judge will most likely impose a sentence right then and there.


    If you wish to take your case to trial instead of settling, a substantial case preparation is needed. It is crucial that the case preparation includes the review of all evidence and witness testimony by your legal representation. It should be noted, however, that most criminal cases are usually resolved through negotiation and plea bargain, and a significant number of cases do not proceed to trial.

    Although most criminal charges give you the right to a trial by jury, there are also some criminal charges such as violation of probation that are only tried by a Judge. This means that the Judge is the only one who decides the appropriate sentence for your case. During a trial by jury, on the other hand, the Judge decides the questions of law while the jury decides whether you are guilty or innocent of the crime.

    *Disclaimer: This website has been designed to provide educational information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. Every case is unique and outcomes will vary depending upon the facts and legal issues of your case. Please do not make any decisions about any legal matter without consulting with an attorney first. There is no Attorney-Client relationship formed by any use of the information provided.

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