Recently, we sat down with Tampa DUI Attorney Anthony Rickman to discuss how a person accused of DUI could get his or her DUI reduced down to a lesser charge of Reckless Driving with the help of an experienced DUI attorney. As a former state prosecutor turned DUI defense attorney who has handled hundreds - if not thousands - of DUI cases, Anthony Rickman knows the situations and circumstances that tend to lead to reductions in charges from DUI to Reckless Driving. As a defense attorney and partner at the law firm of Taracks Gomez and Rickman, Mr. Rickman says he is able to use what he learned and perfected as a prosecutor against the state to receive reductions from DUI to reckless driving for his clients. When evaluating cases for his clients he focuses on the issues that he saw as a problem with the case as a prosecutor, and turns those into advantages for his clients facing allegations of DUI. These issues include primarily the legality of the initial traffic stop, how the person did on the field sobriety tests, and whether the breath test was working properly.
"As a former prosecutor, and now a defense attorney, I deal with DUI cases on a daily basis", Mr. Rickman began. "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." When asked what he meant by a good case, Anthony Rickman explained "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 justification" In cases like those, he stated "the state will look at the law and often reduce the charge."
Mr. Rickman went on to explain that 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. He explained that "many times a person does well on these tests, and passes them, but is still arrested for DUI." In these situations Mr. Rickman 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. He explained that 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," Mr. Rickman says, "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. This is true in hiring as well as in retaining employees - oftentimes people are fired when convicted for DUI; the same is not typically true for Reckless Driving. This is especially important for anyone who works with automobiles or is in a field that involves trust or security clearances - doctors, bankers/financial consultants, accountants, military personnel, nurses, firefighters, students, state or federal government employees, business managers - the list goes on and on. All of these fields are subject to heightened scrutiny based upon the levels of trust and personal attention they involve. Because a conviction for DUI can stay on your record for 75 years, it can harm any future career plans you may have.
"A DUI 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. This is important because the penalties for DUI increase dramatically for each subsequent DUI you are convicted of." Mr. Rickman went on to explain that, unfortunately, many people end up being charged with DUI a second time, which makes it even more important to obtain a favorable result the first time around.
So the big question is, How Do I Get My DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving?
"An experienced Tampa 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, Mr. Rickman says, "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." Because of this, Mr. Rickman says, it is imperative that you have a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer.
"My firm has three former state prosecutors on staff who has personally handled thousands of DUI cases on both the state and defense side. We know the law, have tried numerous DUI cases before juries, argued thousands of motions before judges and have the tools necessary to help fight the State's case against you. Call us today if you have been arrested for DUI - a consultation with one of our Tampa DUI lawyers is always free."
Mr. Rickman can be reached at the law offices of Taracks Gomez & Rickman at 813-281-2897.
Taracks Gomez & Rickman - The Advocate For You.